Friday, June 10, 2011

Internal Politics and Knifing

Fascinating to see political parties indulging in internal politics. During the GE, the parties were fencing with each other. Mostly gentlemanly except for the innuendos of gay agenda of a party by a minister and attacks on a bimbo politician who brandished a Kate Spade bag in a private photo. After the GE, the biting and scratching were not at other parties, but within parties. In particular, WP, NSP and PAP.

WP Tension

The tension within the Workers' Party was evident when Eric Tan who contested in the East Coast GRC, resigned after he was not offered the NCMP position. That coveted appointment, foot-in-the-door into parliament to showcase to voters in the next GE was given to Gerald Giam instead. Why Eric Tan, a veteran of the 2006 GE where he also stood in East Coast GRC, was not selected were for strategic reasons. Gerald Giam should be given the exposure in parliament as he has more years ahead of him. Disagree or agree, Eric Tan quit the party not 3 months later but immediately once the decision was public. The longer he delayed his resignation, the less he linked it with the NCMP chair passed to a younger inexperience candidate, and the less the damage to WP. Some called him petty and that he placed personal interests before party interests, the euphemism for "selfish". Not many emphatised with him and the fact that he was older, was around since the GE 2006 and thus had more experience to share in parliament compared to Gerald Giam.

The WP wanted to pander to the younger voters and Gerald Giam it was. Eric Tan's sense of betrayal was expected but the extent he was disappointed was unexpected. Would Eric Tan soon defect to another party to further show his resentment? Another party like WP which did well in the GE despite not winning any wards?

NSP Intrigue

Another post-GE internal politics fallout is based on rumours, but there is no smoke without fire as they say. NSP members, among them Gilbert Goh and Goh Meng Seng, supposedly met Joseph Ong who is an associate of the disreputable Temasek Review. Goh Meng Seng denied there was a meeting while someone else refuted the NSP secretary-general's denials. This someone called himself "NSP Insider" and added that Joseph Ong wanted to pay for the legal fees of NSP Nicole Seah to sue Shin Min, for reasons unknown. However Goh Meng Seng was against it.

The backstabbing here in NSP is that there might have been a meeting that Goh Meng Seng disallowed but Gilbert Goh and others had a Faustian deal with Joseph Ong behind the NSP leader's back. It was a symptom of a larger problem of a breakdown in party cohesion. NSP is not disciplined like the WP and some factions in NSP probably were unhappy with NSP's lacklustre performance in the GE and the way NSP was heading from now.

PAP Factions

With regards to where a political party is heading from now, and forgetting its proletariat roots, can be seen in the infighting in the PAP camp in the run-up to the presidential election. Tan Cheng Bock jumped into the race, to the surprise of his former comrades. Lim Boon Heng pulled the rug from under Tan Cheng Bock's feet by not giving him a clean bill of health as he doubted the former Ayer Rajah strongman's credentials. Fearing that popular Tan Cheng Bock would become like Ong Teng Cheong in asking uncomfortable questions in parliament, the PAP looked like they had to drag out Tony Tan from retirement to run for office as a counterweight to Tan Cheng Bock. Rather that retired Tan over the other retired Tan.

Just when political shadow boxing within the PAP cannot become any more complicated, George Yeo who earlier said after he was humiliated in Aljunied GRC that he did not have the temperament to be president, hinted that he might give it a shot too. The PAP would not have supported George Yeo as his about-turn on running for president made the PAP looked like they wanted a puppet president too obviously and without finesse. Abdullah Tarmugi was probably the original puppet for the PAP but Tan Cheng Bock and George Yeo ruined the opening game for the PAP. This public display of internal politics only means one thing - they know that Lee Kuan Yew is losing his hold over the party. His eventual demise might actually spark off a breakaway PAP faction as speculated.