Disaster Hits SPP
Some months ago, I speculated that SPP’s performance in parliament was a sign that the party was on the brink of disaster as Lina Chiam was not NCMP material. Recent events demonstrated that disaster has struck Chiam See Tong’s SPP. The decline of the hero of Potong Pasir and the unraveling of his legacy was quickly becoming clear for all to witness.
Arising from diverging expectations of SPP’s leadership, renewal and direction ahead, SPP’s anchor members Wilfred Leung and Benjamin Pwee decided to part from the party. Four other key members, Ting Sze Jiang, Mohamad Hamim Aliyas, Juliana Juwahir and Mr David Tan also chose to leave SPP in the mass resignation. Jimmy Lee is the only young blood left in SPP.
The Chiams at first chose not to respond directly to the circumstances of the exodus of key members of SPP. However, they eventually stated that business is as usual and SPP would continue to focus on renewal and infusion of new passionate members with the right aptitude. The inference is that those who left are not the right stuff for SPP. The infighting plot thickens, urged on by the PAP-inclined agenda in ST’s coverage of political news. Now, the validity of the new SPP CEC is being questioned. The technicalities were whether Sin Kek Tong can be elected into the CEC if he did not consent to be nominated in the first place.
The Chiams see SPP as their party and SPP is the personification of Chiam’s post-1990s political career. He created it when he was ousted from SDP in 1996. SDP was also a party he created in 1980, after his iconic VW signature election bids as an independent in 1976 and 1979. Hence, Chiam’s fear of proteges and being backstabbed again. His anxiety of his seat ursurped again from his own party are not entirely unjustified considering his ugly episodes with SDP and Chee Soon Juan in the 1990s.
In retrospect, this was the explanation he left a comparatively inexperienced and unqualified Lina Chiam to claim Potong Pasir in 2011 while he took the brood of new talents close with him to storm Bishan-Toa Payoh. If he failed in capturing that GRC, he made sure that none of his young talents had a chance to succeed in Potong Pasir, knowing that Wilfred Leung or Benjamin Pwee probably stood a better chance than Lina Chiam at Potong Pasir. He rather chanced that sheer loyalty and his legacy would carry his wife into parliament as a MP. She did enter parliament, but as a NCMP as Potong Pasir was lost.
With the latest debacle on SPP, Lina Chiam’s uninspiring performance in parliament still, and Chiam’s declining health, the end is nigh for SPP’s golden age. Personality politics and the sustainability of Chiam as a political cult icon can only go so far in keeping SPP afloat.