Character assassination and the man at the top

Straits Times, 23 May 2012

If something happens in a company – bad things – regularly, you would question the leadership of that company.

Character assassination attempts by the People’s Action Party (PAP) during elections is a common feature in Singapore politics. It comes from way back when Lee Kuan Yew was the man with the hatchet. All and sundry were hacked down mercilessly. How mercilessly? Some were jailed. Some were sued. Some were bankrupted. Others ran away to exile themselves from the blunt blades.

Here in the 21st century, the PAP is at it again – even when Lee Snr is no longer in charge of the slaughterhouse.

In the last 3 general elections, character assassination attempts by the PAP of its opponents during elections have taken place. The latest bid to tarnish the character of the Workers’ Party’s Png Eng Huat is in character – of the PAP. It seems such behaviour had been hard-wired into its DNA. 

While we condemn DPM Teo Chee Hean for his lame grasp at the straws to save a sinking ship in Hougang [as far as the PAP is concerned], we would do well too to question the man at the top – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

How is it that even under his charge, for 3 consecutive elections, that such wielding of the hatchet still happens?

One would say that perhaps he has learnt well from his father, Senior Lee. Or one might say that these are acts of desperation, during the heat of elections. But isn’t it precisely because things were said at the heat of election that the PAP had been so unforgiving? So, why should such mercy be accorded to them now?

But here’s the real question: Do we want our politics to remain such, to have the ruling party, aided by a still-subservient media, to go on a rampage to destroy those it sees as unworthy?

PM Lee claimed that the stepping down of his father from Cabinet, and with the changing of ministers in the Cabinet, that Singapore had entered an “epochal” change and a new era.

Going by how politics is still being played by the PAP, we are instead firmly stuck in the old era, in harmful inertia. It does our country no good at all.

Thus, if we care about how our politics are played out and how politicians are people to be respected, then we must question the man in charge of the ruling party, the man at the helm of the Government.

Why is he allowing such dirty tactics from his men?

There is no excuse or room to shirk responsibility for to do so would simply mean that he is inept, and should be removed.

Singaporeans hope that the PAP will truly learn not to take the easy way out, dragging the media along with it, in its bids to win the hearts and minds of the public.

To assail a person’s character, integrity and reputation is vicious and shows the deep-seated vindictiveness of the person doing it, in spite of claims to the contrary. As Low Thia Khiang once famously said, “Ti Oo Mak!” – “Heaven Got Eyes”, meaning that the heavens will be fair and will right the wrongs visited on others.

Using such distasteful tactics is a race to the very bottom, to the pit of stinking rotting foul mess.

If PM Lee feels such behaviour is acceptable, then that would be alarming as he is in charge of our society, and in charge of a government which sets the tone for our nation.

If such attempts at character assassination happens again in the next GE, then as duty-bound, loyal and patriotic Singaporeans, it is our responsibility to boot out such vile behaviour – and those who take pride in the practise of it – and not let our nation degenerate to such level.

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