As soon as Catherine Lim puts pen to paper, she gets the PAP and its supporters all hot and bothered. Her open letter to PM Lee, published in the South China Morning Post, raised the concern that trust in the government was lacking.
First, Singapore’s consul general in KH (Where SCMP is based), Jacky Foo, wrote a letter to the SCMP to insist that Catherine Lim was wrong, citing a study done that showed trust in the government was high, although he failed to mention that the same study showed that trust in individual politicians was pretty low.
Then a certain (or should I say uncertain) Eugene Tan did some statistical gymnastics on the ST Forum page to try and prove that the PAP is highly trusted.
Now Dr Janil Puthucheary has volunteered to wade into the fray on PM’s behalf (PM being wise enough not to get involved so far) with yet another letter. While Dr Puthucheary did make a good point about how trust may fluctuate over the short term, and how good government is a long-term endeavour, he wasn’t able to control himself (unlike the previous two fellows) and decided to add some of his own personal attacks into the piece, saying that Ms Lim “could not be trusted to be consistent” and insinuating that she was one of the “jaundiced commentators on the sidelines”.
The second, especially, reeks of then-PM Goh’s “join politics or shut up about it” rant back when Ms Lim decided to pen him a letter.
Dr Puthucheary, who has been saving babies for about 13 years now (although this is irrelevant), Jacky Foo and the mysterious Eugene Tan all seem to have forgotten that many others have made exactly the same observation, with nobody in government taking umbrage.
Dr Puthucheary has come down excessively hard on a moderate and reasonable critic, and this does his party and government no favours at a time when (I assert baldly) trust is diminished and the G needs to appear reasonable and inclusive. I’m sure Dr Puthucheary will also consider me another jaundiced commentator on the sidelines. But, by definition, all commentators are on the sidelines, and it’s so easy to look down on the commentators and fans when you get picked for Singapore’s “first 87”.
It really makes his reference about getting feedback from Singaporeans look like lip service if he cannot listen to Ms Lim without getting all worked up.