Dirty politics, dirty governance

There could be many reasons why Teo Ho Pin keeps playing his cards this way with regards to the AIM saga. Perhaps his hand is guided by a higher power, perhaps he has a twisted sense of propriety, perhaps he really does think that the PAP is a law unto itself (and indeed it might be, for now). The more he defends the legitimacy of the AIM fiasco, the more “logically” ridiculous he sounds, like the NRA in the wake of Sandy Hook. It only makes sense in his own head. Good thing his party makes the rules.

It’s dumb, but I’ll just keep at it and everyone will see the point eventually.

In the end it’s all bad for Singapore. Propriety and legality aside, and ignoring all the outstanding questions, the termination of AHTC by AIM was clearly political (the termination clause was ridiculous and inconsistent, since other TCs had their boundaries shifted and had management changes as well). PAP’s improper control of apolitical entities and resources such as the PA, NTUC, Elections Department, SPH, Mediacorp, AIM and who knows how many other organisations has blurred the lines between politics and governance. PAP’s dirty politics has now become a case of dirty governance. The people pay the price so that the PAP can “fix” the opposition.

While making efforts to defeat your political opponents may be completely acceptable, the dirty politics of character assassination, gerrymandering, bankrupting and sabotage are engaged in at the expense of the nation and the people. This is exacerbated when public resources are used to do the dirty work, sullying the “clean government” we are proud of. In the long run, it also comes at the expense of the party.

The PAP is the school bully – it makes up its own rules to give itself an advantage and rules the roost more by force than by right. Had it not “legally” cheated in so many ways, nobody would have doubted the legitimacy of their political victory, but their right to rule is in doubt now – how much of a margin would the PAP really have won by without resorting to underhanded tactics? They are our legal authority, but are they our moral authority? Does the party’s actions square with this nation’s vaunted Confucian virtues of 仁 (Humaneness), 義 (Righteousness), 禮 (Propriety), 智(Knowledge), and 信 (Integrity)? Does it stand up to our individual measures of morality?

When a bully finally runs into someone who is willing and able to fight back, the facade collapses. It will take more than a shallow apology for the PAP to survive the eventual fallout of years of bullying. It seems that the mainstream media has already been neutralised by moderate alternative media, not to mention the more rabid online press. There is a record number of opposition MPs in parliament today, and none of them seems to be falling for the lawsuit trap. If the PAP is losing its grip on its rule by force, can it turn around fast enough to retain a measure of legitimacy?


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