Tan Jee Say Caught between the Old PAP and SDP Feud


“He was an able, hardworking PPS. But I did not think that he could make it as the permanent secretary, so he resigned from the public service to go to the private sector in order to advance himself.”

“Now he’s in the opposition, which is alright. But to join the SDP, that’s not wise. That’s not wise. He should have gone and asked Chiam See Tong whether it was a good idea to join the SDP.”

SM Goh Chok Tong stated that SDP’s Tan Jee Say did not have the quality to become a Permanent Secretary. Tan naturally defended himself by saying he has no interest in being a Permanent Secretary in the first place. This questioning of Tan is particularly because he joined SDP and not NSP or SPP, since we did not hear of the other scholars or former civil servants in these parties being undermined such.

Obviously, if you asked SDP, they would say Tan left for better opportunities. Conversely, the PAP version is that he could not cut it and that was why he left. Similarly digressing a bit, an ex-civil servant who joined the opposition would be complimented by the shallow public while an ex-civil servant who joined the PAP would be lambasted. Double standards are an unfortunate shameful fact of politics.

SDP is the PAP’s enemy number one for good and bad reasons, despite SDP’s recent attempts at rebranding in terms of its public face while the core driving force remained the same i.e Dr Chee. That Tan is in SDP is the reason why SM Goh made a supposed personal attack on Tan, firing up the anti-PAP voters again as it was another form of “gutter politics” and cheap shots that SM Goh himself said should be avoided. SDP should look into the mirror and get off their high horse as after the gay MP issue had reportedly died off, SDP candidates like James Gomez in the rallies kept using the phrase “gutter politics” of the PAP or other SDP candidates on stage kept saying the name Vivian Balakrishnan to stoke the crowd to erupt in loud “boos” and jeering. The PAP did not have the monopoly of cheap shots in campaigning. Both SDP and PAP are equally slimy, just different in their ways.

Anyway, whether Tan was a meant for higher civil service appointments or not if he wanted it in the first place, that is a non-issue because it is an issue largely not related to the election. What matters instead is Tan’s National Regeneration Plan which has anti-casino streaks in its roots perhaps because of Tan’s Christian leanings, and whether his thesis is a good alternative to the PAP government’s economic vision. That is the substance of the matter e.g. whether Tan’s claims of reducing class sizes, building more schools and employing more teachers is one “noble” (in his own words) alternative to employing casino staff perpetuating gambling and their related vices. Smart, and ironic, to use the same religious crowd that the PAP wanted to move against the SDP because of their “gay agenda”.  Now this crowd is told that the PAP lost its moral compass with the “casino agenda” and leading Singapore into moral decay.

Can we get back to the debate please.

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