The latest developments in the AIM saga have thrown up quite a few lessons for politicians in Singapore in the “new normal”. Take heed, you future (and existing) PAP MPs and learn lessons for your political survival.
LESSON 1: Play nice with the free press.
Gone are the days when state media could hang a shroud of silence over any abuse or screw-up. When Alex Au first broke this story, state media held off reporting for over a week before the pressure online finally forced their hand. The “new normal” for Singaporeans is the online press – a 4th estate that isn’t in your pocket and who don’t fawn over you. Your PAP Internet Brigades don’t qualify, sorry. So if you want to be a real representative of the people, engage.
Not all of us want to bite your head off (but some of us do, so choose wisely). Give real media interviews, learn to engage, be forthcoming, transparent… oh, wait, you don’t have to do any of that because…
LESSON 2: He who has the gold (or parliamentary dominance) makes the rules.
Who else can call for a non-independent “review” and call it “transparency”? Who else can sell public property to a private entity owned by a political party and still have followed all the regulations? When your party holds all the cards, there is no need to worry. You have absolute power, and might makes right, so…
LESSON 3: Shut up and stop trying to prove you are right.
With regards to issues of public outrage, PAP MPs who say anything generally come off looking like idiots. First, Teo Ho Pin makes statements that bring to light further dubious elements about the transaction. Second, Grace Fu, in trying to draw attention away from the issue, incorrectly accused the WP of terminating the contract first. Third, Baey Yam Keng claims during a Facebook session that Town Councils are private institutions run by political parties, not public servants, opening up an even bigger can of worms.
Now not all of these have been established as factually wrong or idiotic, but when you start TELLING people about how much power you have over their lives, you will just make them upset. But silence is a hard discipline for those who suddenly come into great power, so…
LESSON 4: Learn from Khaw.
Having suffered a setback for initially defending the NParks purchase during the Brompton Bike saga, dissing WP for Yaw, and telling us that our flats are still the same size after all these years, Khaw Boon Wan has shown why the PAP places such faith in a man who told your grandmother to go and die in JB.
He’s smiling because he learned his lesson. As Chairman of the PAP that owns AIM and as Minister of the MHA that has authority over TCs, Khaw has said absolutely zilch about the AIM saga, which leads me to believe that he will go very far indeed as a politician.