There was a publicity overdrive on PM Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally as it was obvious he was anxious that his Sermon on the Mount would reach as wide an audience as possible. As it turned out it was nothing more than a captive audience comprising mainly PAP minister, MPs, grassroots leaders, PAP supporters and a sprinkling of students, who listened in awesome attention to his so called exquisite oratory.
The Workers’ Party MPs very wisely gave the Rally a miss as it would have put them in an untenable position having to endorse the electioneering effort and excessive extolment of the late Lee Kuan Yew which they anticipated would be a feature of the Rally speech. They instead organised a dinner for their supporters to celebrate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee. Other opposition parties had also organised separate social events on that day.
The attendees at the Rally were a captive audience and PM Lee was at his best in mesmerizing his audience with his absorbing narrative on what social and political problems Singapore was facing and the Government’s efforts in overcoming them. He was seen to be in his element when he delivered his speech with such finesse that he had the audience applauding from time to time whenever he made a significant point.
It would have been a consummation of his oratory if he had refrained from extolling ad nauseam the so-called virtues of his late father Lee Kuan Yew and turning the Rally into an electioneering stunt calling for the election of the PAP team in the general election.
Of course the attendees by their very nature would be the PAP’s loyal electors. But how widely this will percolate down to the electorate will be a million-dollar question.
The PAP has the distinct advantage in its early announcement of its candidates for the general election and the fawning write-ups by a subservient press. The opposition has not disclosed its complete line-ups but the Workers’ Party will be defending its incumbent constituencies. So everything seems to be ready except the announcement of an election date by PM Lee which is thought to be likely in early September (update: September 11). The biggest PAP casualty so far seems to be the Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew who is portrayed as resigning to take the rap (引 咎辞聀）for the SMRT breakdowns. Ministers Lim Swee Say and Vivian Balakhrishnan who were given commendable mention by PM Lee in his Rally speech may have their work cut out in defending their seats because of their poor esteem with the electors.
PM Lee has said in his Rally speech that the coming general election is a critical one and that the PAP is going all out to win the election. He thinks the ground is favourable to the PAP for the general election to be called. This hustings may turn out to be a watershed election.
— Yoong Siew Wah / Singapore Recalcitrant
* Mr. Yoong Siew Wah was the director of Singapore’s Internal Security Department from 1971 to 1974. Before that, he was the director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Mr Yoong is now retired and blogs at singaporerecalcitrant.blogspot.com.