Hougang By-Election: PAP’s Scorched Earth
At the end of the road tomorrow, the Hougang voter is left with these choices. The PAP. The PAP ended off their campaigning with their focus on an opportunity for a fresh start in Hougang for residents there. The WP. The WP ended their rally with the message that the PAP used HDB upgrading to penalise Hougang voters for choosing opposition, and even those who voted PAP were penalised as a whole.
The choice is easy for us who are not in Hougang if you see what positive impact the lost of a GRC had on the PAP. The choice is probably easier for those in Hougang. Those in Hougang have pride, resilience and 21 years of opposition steadfastness. WP is a good opposition party and have tried to take the high road, with a balanced and reasonable direction. Naturally they have its problems, but not the supposed leadership problems or the character flaws of its candidates past and current – Yaw Shin Leong or Png Eng Huat, that the media and PAP droned about.
WP’s recent problems seeped from its recent parliament debates. Not because of the quality in the case of Gerald Giam and the salary debate, or that they dared not speak up, but because some of its MPs plagiarised content for speeches, whatever their hasty excuses afterwards that consent was given. That is a rot within WP, unimportant to many perhaps but to me coming from Pritam Singh and Chen Show Mao who are highly educated, it was theft, intellectual theft. Nevertheless, neither of these two are standing for elections in Hougang so it is moot for now.
For tomorrow, those in Hougang are not going to vote for PAP, not going to give a PAP a chance just yet. They are instead made to remember by clever WP that they have been penalised by the PAP, for excercising their democratic right to vote for a party other than the PAP. That to me, someone from outside Hougang, stings and stinks. We can be sure those in Hougang feel even more strongly about PAP. Low Thia Khiang provoked it exceptionally well, where is the “justice and equality” in that “political discrimination”? The swing voters, those who voted for PAP and then WP in the last election would be taunted to maintain their new found loyalty. Those who voted PAP ever since, are encouraged to strike back with an X next to the Hammer as their loyalties were misplaced since the PAP was retributive and not into reconciliation.
When the election commenced, Desmond Choo looked good. A surprise win was even possible in the wake of the Yaw Shing Leong incident and WP’s shaky contributions in parliament, although the chances of a win were small still. At least it was not impossible.
However, as the campaign progressed, the PAP and the media tended to focus on unwarranted character attacks and this rallied public sentiment against them. PAP did not seem to bother selling well what they can do better for Hougang than WP could. Instead, they showed that they were not really that interested in winning Hougang since knew that they would lose anyway, but perversely wanted a scorched earth policy of damaging WP’s reputation and promise of further penalties to Hougang as much as they could, in preparation for 2016. The market Hougang lost would certainly not be rebuilt and upgrading might be delayed somehow. Strategically it is a double-edged sword for the PAP. While resorting to vindictive stabs in the back and cuts in the shadows at WP, the PAP was doing damage to it’s own reputation as well.
From a small chance that PAP could win or at least get 45% of the votes at best, the PAP’s bullying ways would inspire Hougang to resist even more. I think PAP would indeed be fortunate if they can maintain their votes at 35%.