Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hougang By-Eelection & Impact of Sajeeev & Dr Poh III

As political observer, this week seems to be very exciting with all the perfect dramatic twists unfolding right before the Hougang By-election.

While we were anticipating an "unexciting" fight in Hougang by-election, WP former Nee Soon GRC Indian candidate Sajeev made an announcement I do not know Mr Sajeev well but I have heard murmurs of discontent from the Malay and Indian WP members prior to Fazli's (Malay candidate of East Coast GRC in GE2011) resignation a couple of months ago. The issue is bigger than mere appointment of cadre membership. The Malays and Indians felt that they were unfairly treated and would have expected that being candidates of the party, they should become one of the major stakeholders of the party as cadres.

For the record, back in 2006, right after GE2006, all WP candidates who aren't cadres were made cadres immediately. The rationale is that if the party is confident enough to offer them as candidates during the General Elections, they should be entrusted as the core stakeholders of the party as cadres. NSP applied this rationale in post-GE2011 as well: all candidates who were not cadres were appointed as one shortly after the GE.

The issue of cadre membership is a sensitive and tricky one. Only cadre members are allowed to vote during the Ordinary Party Congress (OPC) to elect the CEC members every two years. Thus cadres must be trusted and tested members so to ensure that they will not end up with infighting later on. However, most of the time the appointment of cadre membership in most of the parties in Singapore is opaque and the powers lie on the CEC, particularly the SG or Chairman/President only. This will result in the possibility of entrenchment and monopoly of power in the long run.

I could empathize with Fazli's and Sajeev's feelings. Imagine as a candidate, you were not appointed as cadre while some members working in the background got appointed as one, how would you feel? I have even heard of members going around declaring that candidates are not as important as election agents and members playing supporting roles! This is pretty absurd to me, especially to think that Malay and Indian candidates are critical assets of the party.

No matter how many Chinese candidates you have, without sufficient Malay and Indian candidates, you won't be able to field all the Chinese candidates in GRCs at all. Ironically, from the accounts provided by Sajeev, it seems that WP has totally neglected in grooming its slates of Malays and Indians!

Sajeev's press statement has also revealed that Sylvia has made a very unfair remarks about Indian members would leave the party once appointed as cadre. There is no basis in this assertion, if it is really made by Sylvia. There were Chinese cadre members leaving the party as well. WP and Sylvia have made a statement in response to claim that it is absurd to accuse WP as racist. However Sylvia didn't deny categorically that she has made such remarks before.

I think that it is important to bear in mind that whether an organization is racially biased or not depends on the perception it projected upon others, especially those people from the minority races. If there are WP members feeling that they have been unfairly treated due to their race, it is ringing a dangerous alarm bell within.

Although most people would question the motive and timing of Sajeev's resignation but looking from another perspective, he has provided more insights and information on WP during the time when the voters need to help them assess each contesting parties fully.

Will his resignation and revelation of WP's inner working affect the outcome of this by-election? I don't think it will make a big impact on the results of this by-election. It would at most put a 2% to 3% dent on WP's overall result. However, this incident may have a longer term implications. WP may find itself harder to recruit better quality Malay and Indian candidates to fulfill their ambitions in next GE to contest more GRCs and crossing over to Tampines and Marine Parade.

Dr Poh Lee Guan's latest involvement in this Hougang by-election is pretty intriguing. According to WP's statement, they are not aware of Dr Poh's intention to contest in Hougang, WP will only nominate Png Eng Huat and Dr Poh is still a WP member. It basically means that Dr Poh has submitted his form of application for political donation certificate was not endorsed by WP.

Initially, some WP supporters were saying that Dr Poh is the backup candidate for WP but apparently this is not the case. WP didn't plan for it that way. Maybe Dr Poh was hoping that if there is anything happening to Png Eng Huat prior to nomination, he would take the opportunity to become his replacement as WP candidate. But the chances of this happening is very slim.

Beside, once this news is out about Dr Poh being granted the necessary certificate to contest, WP would not hesitate to take disciplinary actions against him (i.e. expulsion from the party). Thus the likelihood of Dr Poh contesting is very high.

It is no mystery that relationship between Dr Poh and the top WP leadership has been down in the doldrums for many years since GE2006. He was slowly sidelined and eventually edged out of the CEC in the OPC held in GE2010.

Dr Poh was once the political star in WP back in the early 2000s. He was fondly known as "Ah Poh" around Hougang and was very active in Hougang grassroot activities. He was once appointed as the Town Councillor of Hougang. All these changed after there was an argument over election strategy for GE2006.

Among the present slate of potential candidates WP has, Dr Poh has the highest visibility and personal recognition in Hougang beside Mr Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim. If WP is looking for a matured candidate for Hougang, Dr Poh would naturally be the most appropriate choice. However, Png Eng Huat was chosen instead.

It would be natural for Dr Poh to feel disappointed by such decision. I am a little bit surprised that Dr Poh would go all out to contest in Hougang by-election against WP's will. He is not that kind of person who would take such a big risk. Nevertheless, I could fully understand his position if he really turns up at the nomination centre.

The impact of Dr Poh's decision to contest in Hougang By-election would be multidimensional. He will not merely be the key "third force" absorbing the swing votes from WP, his presence will also entrench doubts on WP's effectiveness in management. Due to his relatively higher personal profile in Hougang, he may suck up more votes from WP's core support rather than PAP's side. I will not be surprised if he could garner more than 12.5% of valid votes to keep his deposit in this by-election.

Taking into account of these new developments, my estimate of vote swing against WP may have to be readjusted downwards. I am expecting a higher number of spoil votes with a vote swing of 10% to 13% against WP. It will still win the elections even if its votes drop to below 50% but that would have very much wider implications on LTK's leadership.

Goh Meng Seng


Anonymous said...

Please do not call yourself a political observer. You have not reach that stage yet, long long way to go. A more appropriate term to describe yourself in politics is "Shit-Stirrer".

Anonymous said...

I second that..thank god you did not win

Anonymous said...

So the PAP is right - if they had not placed racial mix requirements into a GRC composition. Something like this will take place and there is a need for every party to engage the whole community at large.

Anonymous said...

With all these observations/speculations/stories of WP, now let's look forward. So what are the actions and plans of actions you propose? That's all that matters for the future political climate of Singapore?

Anonymous said...

Political observer? Sound like a politics quitter. You quit WP after losing election in 2006, you quit NSP after losing election in 2011. It is time you quit completely from politics and stop making baseless thoughts of yours.

Please get over it that SL was made NCMP in 2006 and not you. Time to put that WP hatre of yours down and move on, will you. Otherwise you are no difference from Sajeev.

Anonymous said...

GMS you always write gossip story to badmouth WP and Poh did not contest and just a backup so what say you. Stop writing rubbish and don't make yourself a clown

Admin said...

According to TNP, Dr Poh told them that he is going to contest in Hougang but at the very last minute, he just chicken out. I really don't know what went through his mind.

His contest would have helped WP to absorb those vote swing, preventing PAP from capitalizing from it.

Goh Meng Seng

Cynical Investor said...

I'd like to nail the allegation that GSM quit WP in 2006 because he was not made the NMP. I don't hhink like that esp as SL was the team leader. What I understand from a very reliable source that bears no love for Low and Sylvia no not GMS himself)is that GMS quit because he was told that there the WP would not guarantee him a place in Team Aljunied at the next GE. Given his efforts, can't blame him for deciding to "move on". I may criticise GMS in my blog, but he is not a chow kar.

Anonymous said...

Hi Meng Seng, i have a feeling WP will lost Hougang this time round. Being a hougang resident and a minority. WP shd be responsible of their actions. My whole family and me has decide to swing. :)

Mr Abu

Anonymous said...

GMS the pot calling the kettle black. Your performance in last GE including a couple of exposures in CNA was a complete disaster that the host of CNA has to "rubbish" you. YOu need to improve on your presentation skills as well, whether on national TV or at Hong Lim Park. Frankly, you stammered and appeared lost in thoughts while struggling to get your point across. National TV don't have so much time waiting for you to think and the host had to move on with other speaker guests. So please don't criticise others because you hate him. Criticise intelligently and fairly.