“We are professionals” – and out you go

“Well, everybody has a car, we have two — my wife drives one, I drive one. We are both professionals, we need to travel.”

The above was said by the PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon in an interview with the media during the Punggol East by-election. What caught my attention was not the fact that he revealed he and his wife drove a car each – something which many online have criticised him for. What threw me was his remark – “We are both professionals, we need to travel” – and the way he said it, with a smirk on his face.

“We are professionals…”

“We need to travel.”

And the earth parted.

It reminded me of this episode back in 2006: the Wee Shu Min affair.


The PAP doesn’t seem to have learnt its lessons from GE 2011, the presidential elections and the Hougang by-election.

It parachuted in a colorectal surgeon whom it then touted as a “son of Punggol”, had him clear a clogged drain (right in front of the media, apparently), with fake plastic smiles and all. These were as artificial as his “hi-fives” photos which he posted on his Facebook page. Someone should have told him what happened to the presidential candidate who ran his campaign going around hi-fiving everyone – and ended losing his deposit.


It would seem that the PAP has not gotten rid of its addiction to the elitist thoughts among its leadership – that credentials matter more than anything else. Koh’s entry into Punggol East is also said to have created unhappiness among the PAP’s own grassroots’ ranks there. That someone who had not walked the ward is deemed more worthy and preferred over those who did, and to add to the insult, Koh only joined the PAP 3 weeks prior to the by-election itself.

And Koh’s own words – in that one sentence – betrayed all the media and PAP spin which they lavished on him, even on the last day of campaigning and on Cooling Off Day, with a front page splash of the PAP sec gen himself bringing out his guns.

But in the end it was all to no avail.

The people rejected the fake persona the PAP tried to sell them.

It is a mindset change which the PAP needs to learn and take to heart. But it would seem that this is quite an impossible task – given how its new MPs from GE 2011 (even those who have become ministers) seem to also be falling into the same elitist and dismissive-of-others mode.

But change in the PAP, or “reform” – as George Yeo put it – is almost impossible to fathom, given how 2 years after the momentous events of GE 2011, the PAP still seems a laggard in this.

When the Prime Minister, in a party conference several weeks back, declares that his government will only “calibrate a bit to the left, a bit to the right”, you know things have not and won’t change much.

The PAP would do well to ask itself if this is how it wants to proceed – with piecemeal and little tweaks here and there; or if it would have the courage to make the deeper changes which is needed for it to remain relevant.

And for this, the questions must first be asked of its leadership – whether the PAP leadership is capable of keeping the party relevant, and whether they have the right person at the top for the job.




Cartoon from: My Sketchbook.



  1. I wonder if it is right at the top which needs to change.
    Unless, you mean they ALL need a Brain transplant…
    Sad to see a once good party go so bad.

  2. Well written, Andrew. I can only share that PAP has forgotten those who worked hard back in the 60’s, then with little opportunity to go to school, but supported PAP to be successful. Today’s PAP thinks only of paper qualifications and look down on ordinary people, not to mention those who supported them in the 60’s. PAP thinks these folks are now a burden to the society despite the hugh reserve, and depriving them from the hardearned CPF savings. PAP has to stop belittling the opposition parties and their candidates.

  3. Andrew. The last photo with Geogie pledging to transform the party, where is he now? Last heard, working as an expat for a foreign coy in Hongkong? How
    Is he going to keep his promise being so far away? So, how did PAPa lost its
    way before the last GE. Care to share your views?

  4. L.Lian out-gunned the 2 secretary-generals and sent them off with heavy political bruises. She also sent the eminent doc packing to go back to his rectum practice. It is not about high-powered characters, or highly qualified qualifications or credentials, or boasting of one’s past experiences, background or abilities as it will not help to win votes. Voters generally dislike cockiness, arrogance, ego and conceit. When will the politicians and would-be politicians learn how to run their election campaign with a campaign manager or political strategist to win every vote, to make every vote counts?

  5. When the coast is clear, and soon, many would-be politicians will join the political arena as the stake in governing is high. Not just in millions but in billions and billions. Tempting for many to put their hands on it. What is $14,500 as a bet to put the hands on to govern the billions when the returns is very great?

  6. Half-time 2-0. What will be PAP’s counter measures to stop the flood from becoming a deluge? Is the PAP Govt listening and listening well? If not, what is holding them back?

    I repeatedly post over the months: I hope the present Cabinet will embrace the social values of the founding of the PAP and the original mission statement of the HDB to be guided by it to stay relevant in governing, and able to govern effectively and efficiently.

    It is better to lose some of the battles than lose the war.

    But will the Govt truly listen or have the nagging concern of : letting lose the bird will fly, or holding it too tight, the bird will die?

    Are there any valid phobia or dilemma, or paranoid concerns? An illusion that could be the cause to lose the war. After the dust of the PE BE has settled, quietened down and all return to business as normal, Singaporeans will watch on 25th Feb for the 2013 Budget and what will be in it for them? Is the Govt ready to be decisive?

    In this year’s Budget, I hope the Govt will listen again. I hope the Govt will set up:

    the Transport Rebate Fund;
    the Counter Inflation Fund;
    the WorkFare Income Supplement Fund; and
    the Payroll Fund.

    When GST rate is raised in the next few years, the funds should be for the setting up of a Medical Assistance Fund. This is possible when the GST rate is raised from 7 to 10% gradually as the 3% will generate some $4bn for setting up this fund possible.

    I wrote a few pieces on the above. Those interested might wish to check it out.

    Please google tankoktim @ blog.com under Government or Govt’s Budget categories.

    The Govt did listen. Once in 2011 when the Govt implemented the S$1bn Community Silver Trust in the 2011 Budget. How many MPs and would-be politicians know what this Trust is for? I wrote this in my blog.com in 2011: “My letter to the media & Govt on the new S$1b Community Silver Trust”.

    The Govt listened again, and that was last year. The Govt set up the GST Voucher Fund in the 2012 Budget. I wrote a piece in my blog.com as GST is an issue I follow closely. I wrote: “Have a separate ‘GST-Rebate Fund’?” I hope the Govt will listen again in this year’s Budget, which will be announced in Parliament on 25 Feb 2013.

    LTA has announced $700m to build covered walkways, etc. to all the MRT stations. Not a small amount to provide all these facilities.

    If the Govt listens again to present the 2013 Budget, I hope the Govt will set aside $700m for the 4 funds below as initial seed money:

    1] the Transport Rebate Fund;.

    2]the Counter Inflation Fund;.

    3]the WorkFare Income Supplement Fund; and.

    4]the Payroll Fund.

    • social funds are all good but not everything can be solved with money.. ..

      we need more social solutions….
      1) eg. unpegging hdb prices to market and instead peg to pink ic holders. (if you have a pink ic, u get a flat at cost. dats it.)

      2) easing education pressures – provide a super broad base of education, including degrees for everything from hair styling to cooking or whatever… stop streaming and allow children to choose their own paths by INTEREST….

      how many of you know of friends who studied engineering all their lives only to later join a bank? or study IT and become an accountant? or ended up in sales??? its a waste of time of the individual and country’s resources to train the person in a field only to join another field in the workforce! this has to do with the imbalance of reward system in the industries… instead allow ppl to pursue their dreams and make the rewards system more fair… an income of a hair stylist should not deviate too wide from a office professional.. this way, every child knows you can succeed in every profession.. and not just the pri> sec > jc> university route..

  7. We all know what the judgement in court will be for the challenge on the constitution. With this by-election, we will never see another by-election till there is a change of power. However, someone pointed out that although the PM did not call for a by-election in GRCs when one member was lost and that it was not required under the constitution, he apparently can call a by-election if that happens in an opposition held GRC. Before 2016 we will be seeing even more gerrymandering and I believe perhaps a complete overhaul of the GRC scheme now that it has dawned on them that the sword can cut both ways.

  8. It is obvious to many outsiders what PAP needs to do going forward. PAP must take bold steps to address many worsening problems in Singapore. The baby steps (e.g. how many property cooling measures do you need?!!!) they take are showing their indecisions and lack of visions. Why don’t they implement Minimum Wage now instead of other small trickling steps? Why don’t they put a stop to population growth and perhaps Reverse the influx of foreigners instead of slowing the growth from 5% to 4% to 3%…? Why don’t they free up the money in CPF for seniors to use in any medical care instead of squeezing them for that extra out-of-pocket money? Why don’t they just nationalize MRT instead of pumping money into a badly run private corporation?

    Until PAP starts to make bold moves to improve people’s lives, the voters will be looking to alternate parties who promote visions of a better Singapore.

  9. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account
    it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we communicate?

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