Singaporeans and those watching Singapore politics are being treated to a merry parade of shenanigans since the start of the year, all related to the state of WP dominance in Hougang.
WP-Bashing Media and the Opening Move
TRE, which gives a bad name to Internet voices with its brand of trash journalism from its anti-WP Wayang Party days to its anti-PAP TR days, started the ball rolling with its rumours about Yaw Shin Leong's extra-marital affairs. Yaw defiantly remained reticent. The newspapers, nation building as always, dragged on coverage of the affair for weeks and focused on Yaw Shin Leong's personal indiscretion and spun it as a question of political integrity, giving PAP the advantage as always. Shenanigan #1.
WP's Losing Silence and Winning Gambit
The Hougang MP's personal crisis exposed WP's management crisis. WP had atrocious public relations management and initially also chose to remain silent, pretending the matter did not exist, a classic PAP style to stick its head in the sand. WP backed their Hougang MP, as they should until eventually, as news of Yaw Shin Leong's other extra-marital affairs popped up, the WP leaders realised that their Hougang MP was a political liability, and expelled him. Plunging Hougang into a by-election state in a political gambit which they were likely to win. Something like what the PAP did in the Marine Parade in 1992 where the by-election was just peacock posturing. Shenanigan #2.
PAP's Delay Tactic
The PAP obviously was fixed good as they preferred that Yaw Shin Leong remained as the MP and would be crippled with public doubts of his integrity. However, Low Thia Khiang and his fellow stewards of WP brilliantly sacrificed their knight and his hooks. WP knew that in any by-election in the post-GE mood where the PAP still has not solved the people's problems despite the pre-GE promises, and that Hougang is a WP stronghold since 1991, WP would win the by-election. PAP thus wanted to delay holding the by-election as long as they could to wear out the Aljunied GRC WP MPs who are taking turns to oversee Hougang as it is without an MP. The PAP planned that as Hougang turned into a neglected slum, the margin of PAP's loss in the coming Hougang by-election would be smaller than the loss in GE 2011. Shenanigan #3.
Seeing a chance to stir the controversy, M Ravi, the mad lawyer which even SDP has smartly kept a distance from in recent years, managed to "persuade" a presumably uneducated cleaner and Hougang resident, Vellama D/O Marie Muthu, to file a court application that the PM should convene a by-election within 3 months of Yaw Shin Leong's disqualification as a Hougang MP. Without a doubt, Vellama was probably Ravi's pawn to sting the PAP about the delay in a Hougang by-election. She is a cleaner who earns $300 a month, has 2 children and an alcoholic husband - an unlikely profile of a keen observer of politics who would file a court application. Ravi could have tried hard to pick a better stand-in. Maybe nobody else wanted to be associated with him. Shenanigan #4.
More Tomfoolery to Come
The parade of shenanigans is not over yet and we can expect more entertainment soon enough. From internet voices like TRE or TOC, from WP or PAP, from another party, the possibilities of tomfoolery are almost endless. I expect one other shenanigan would Tan Jee Say really taking part in the Hougang by-election when the beginning of the end game comes.