Friday, August 26, 2011

Watershed elections and government renewal 1984-1997

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was a strong eugenics believer. In his 1983 National Day Rally speech, he lamented that declining birth rates and large number of graduate women remaining single or not marrying their intellectual equal could shrink the Singapore's talent pool. The PAP government proceeded to launch the "Graduate Mother Scheme" to entice graduate women with incentives to get married and give birth to more babies. These could have caused a big dip in PAP's support for GE 1984. Its vote share plunged to 65%, the biggest fall and the lowest for PAP since independence. It was termed as a watershed at that time.

For this GE, PM Lee's son Lee Hsien Loong made his debut, while PAP stalwarts Goh Keng Swee and Ong Pang Boon stepped down. WP retained its sole Anson seat of leader J. B. Jeyaretnam while SDP made its first in-road into Parliament with the victory of Chiam See Tong, who would hold onto the seat for 27 years.

(Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye and Lee Kuan Yew)

A new Non-Constituency Member of Parliament scheme (NCMP) was introduced whereby between three and six seats would be offered to unsuccessful opposition candidates with the best scores and who garner at least 15% of the votes. Opposition parties dismissed the scheme for misleading voters into thinking that they could have opposition MPs without voting for them. WP's M. P. D. Nair was eligible for NCMP but declined. The offer was then made to SUF's Tan Chee Kien, who did the same.

I remembered Tan Chee Kien quite well and had good conversation with him back in my student years. He graduated from Nanyang University and was a Student Liaison Officer in Singapore Polytechnic. He was supportive of student activities. Because of his personal belief, he quitted the job in 1980 and eventually became a member of SUF (Singapore United Front). Eligible voters: 1,495,389 in 79 constituencies. Voters in 30 walkover constituencies: 550,765 (36.8%). Total voters in 49 contested constituencies: 944,624 (63.2%). WP contested in 15 constituencies and won 1. BS contested 4 seats and lost all. SDP contested 4 seats and won 1. PAP 64.8%. WP 41.9%. BS 38.2%. SDP: 46.1%.

(Tan Chee Kian. Student Liaison Officer turned business man. He contested under SUF and later NSP)

GRCs were introduced in GE 1988 to ensure ethnic minority representation in Parliament based on PAP’s theory. This was the last time Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew led the PAP in a GE. Another two stalwarts, former Deputy PM Toh Chin Chye and Senior Minister S. Rajaratnam, retired for PAP's renewal process. Singapore was divided into 13 GRC and 42 single member constituencies (SMC). Two seats were vacated in 1986 - Anson of WP chief J. B. Jeyaretnam and Geylang West of PAP Teh Chang Wan. Jeyaretnam disqualified as MP for improper party accounts and Teh Chang Wan committed suicide while on investigations for corruption. WP absorbed BS and SUF to become the largest opposition party and also allied with PKMS as one common unit.

Former solicitor-general and Law Society president, Francis Seow, standing under the WP ticket in Eunos GRC with veteran politician Lee Siew Choh. Francis Seow came under fire from the PAP leadership for his alleged dubious financial circumstances. Nevertheless, the strong WP team caught PAP's attention and Dr Tay Eng Soon, a popular PAP stalwart, was switched to face the team. In the end, PAP won the GRC by narrow margin (50.9%). With SDP's sole victory, two NCMP seats were offered to Lee and Seow. Seow fled the country to avoid arrest and was disqualified from the post. Lee Siew Choh took up the offer and became Singapore's first NCMP. This also marked his return to Parliament after 25 years since his last stint as a PAP and BS legislator. Eligible voters in 81 constituencies: 1,669,013. Voters in 11 walkover constituencies: 219,175 (13.1%). Total voters in 70 constituencies: 1,449,838 (86.9%). WP contested in 32 constituencies and lost all. SDP contested 18 seats and won 1. PAP 63.2%. WP 38.5%. SDP: 39.5%.

('Of the five younger Cabinet ministers - Ong Teng Cheong, Goh Chok Tong, Dhanabalan, Tony Tan and Lim Chee Onn - whom have you the most confidence in?' Mr Lee asked some members of the already disbanded task force in a confidential letter in April 1981. Ong Teng Cheong is on the left and Lim Chee Onn is third from left.)

In November 1990, the Nominated MP scheme was implemented to introduce non-partisan voices into the parliament. GE 1991 was Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's maiden leading of PAP into an election after Lee Kuan Yew stepped down as PM and PAP's secretary-general in 1990. PM Goh called a snap election merely three years after the last GE to court a fresh mandate, setting Parliament's shortest term ever. The nation was regrouped into 15 GRC and 21 SMC. However, PAP lost an unprecedented four seats, the biggest number since GE 1963, and its vote share fell for the third consecutive time. SDP won two more seats in addition to the seat retained successfully by leader Chiam See Tong. In fact eight out of nine SDP candidates came in among the top ten opposition candidates. WP made its second in-road into the legislature with the victory of its organising secretary Low Thia Khiang, who would years later become WP secretary-general and leader. At a press conference, PM Goh attributed the loss to his "open and consultative style of government" and pledged to re-assess his style.

(Low Thia Khiang. Elected as Hougang MP in 1991. 20 years alter, he decided to walk out from Hougang and formed an 'A' team contested in Aljunied GRC in 2011. The team garnered about 56% vote share)

Since the introduction of the NCMP scheme in 1984, this was the first GE with no NCMP seats offered as the four opposition seats exceeded the minimum of three NCMP seats allotted. Therefore, the narrow defeat of WP's Eunos GRC team, helmed by Lee Siew Choh again, did not see to his return as NCMP. He retired from politics in 1993. The maximum of six Nominated MPs were appointed for this term, up from two NMPs previously. Eligible voters in 81 constituencies: 1,692,384. Voters in 41 walkover constituencies: 844,668 (49.9%). Total voters in 40 constituencies: 847,716 (50.1%). WP contested in 13 constituencies and won 1. SDP contested 9 seats and won 3. PAP 61%. WP 41.1%. SDP: 48.6%.

The first and only by-election in a GRC was called by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in his own Marine Parade GRC in 1992 for two purposes. He hoped to secure another fresh, stronger mandate after last year's GE saw PAP lose an unprecedented four seats under his leadership. He also wanted to introduce Teo Chee Hean into the parliament. SDP unveiled its newly-acquired "trump card" - National University of Singapore lecturer Chee Soon Juan, who would subsequently become SDP's leader.

PAP won that By-Election in 1992 with 48,965 votes (72.9%) against SDP, NSP and SJP. It is interesting to note that for 1991 General Election, PAP won Marine Parade GRC with 51,685 votes (77.2%) against SJP. The vote share had dipped for the by-election.

(Chee Soon Juan, a NUS lecturer who was under attacked by the PAP heavy weight. c.1992)

GE 1997 was another opportunity for Goh Chok Tong to score a better mandate after PAP's considerably poorer showing in GE 1991. Singapore was regrouped again into 15 GRC and 9 SMC. Two seats in PAP-held Eunos and Toa Payoh GRCs were vacated after the death of Dr Tay Eng Soon and inauguration of former Deputy PM Ong Teng Cheong as Singapore's fifth and first elected President respectively. Eunos GRC, which twice saw narrow wins against WP, was dispersed into neighbouring constituencies. The main opposition SDP was facing serious internal conflict. SDP MP and former leader Chiam See Tong won a defamation lawsuit against his party's central executive committee, including its new leader Chee Soon Juan and one of its MPs, chairman Ling How Doong. Prior to nomination day, Chiam resigned from SDP and crossed over to its splinter party, SPP.

Two opposition candidates who came under heaviest fire from PAP were Chee Soon Juan and Tang Liang Hong. Tang was standing on the WP ticket with its secretary-general J. B. Jeyaretnam in Cheng San GRC. Tang was accused by PAP of being an anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist. After the GE, Tang fled Singapore after numerous lawsuits were filed against him by top PAP leaders, including PM Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, DPMs Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Tony Tan and several PAP MPs.

(Lawyer Tang Liang Hong during GE rally. 1997)

With the "HDB upgrading" carrot dangled as a pricy stake for voters, PAP reversed its electoral decline for the first time in four GEs and recaptured two SDP seats out of the four it had lost the last round. With Chiam hopped to SPP, SDP had no representation in Parliament since 1984. Low Thia Khiang, now WP assistant secretary-general, and Jeyaretnam as a NCMP, returned to the legislature. It was Jeyaretnam’s first return to parliament since his last presence in 1986.

In June 1997, when NMPs were re-appointed, the number was increased from six to nine. Eligible voters in 83 constituencies: 1,881,011. Voters in 47 walkover constituencies: 1,115,679 (59.3%). Total voters in 36 contested constituencies: 765,332 (40.7%). WP contested in 14 constituencies and won 1. SDP contested 12 seats and lost all. SPP contested in 3 seats and won 1. PAP 65%. WP 37.6%. SDP: 33.1%. SPP 27.2%.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Into the election years of nation building 1968-1981

Unlike the last GE in 1968, vibrant contests made its return and PAP was challenged in nearly all seats in GE 1972. BS changed tack from its boycott strategy and attempted to make a comeback. BS’s Lee Siew Choh contested in Rochor but lost to PAP’s Toh Chin Chye again. This time lost by a larger margin of more than 1000 votes. WP was rejuvenated by former district judge J. B. Jeyaretnam while its former leader David Marshall, who had contemplated to stand as an independent candidate, was out of the running due to a stingray wound.

(Dr Toh Chin Chye visited Rochor Constituency. c. 1960s)

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew anticipated 45 seats as a good-enough victory given the stiff competition. However, PAP returned to power by capturing all seats. Singaporeans did not see the need for political diversity, which they believed would lead to power struggle that would impede effective governance during the nation building years. Eligible voters in 65 seats: 908,382. Voters in 8 walkover constituencies: 95,456 (10.5%). Total voters in 57 contested constituencies: 812,926 (89.5%). WP and BS contested 27 and 10 seats respectively and lost all. PAP: 70.4%. WP 24.5%, BS 26.6%.

(阵线报published by BS, 1970)

GE 1976 was the electoral debut of both Goh Chok Tong and Chiam See Tong. Goh became Singapore's next Prime Minister 1990-2004. Chiam, standing as independent candidate, later became Singapore's longest-serving opposition MP (1984-2011. 27 years). PAP government produced credible records but had become authoritarian after being in power for a long time and denied Singaporeans democratic choices by changing laws to its favour and employing hardball tactics. Some opposition parties began to adopt a stand more in sync with the people's sentiments that no matter how good PAP was, a few opposition MPs in Parliament could serve as a check and balance on the PAP government. Eligible voters from 69 constituencies: 1,095,817. Voters in 16 walkover constituencies: 238,520 (21.8%). Total voters in 53 contested constituencies: 857,297 (78.2%). WP and BS contested 22 and 6 seats respectively and lost all. PAP 74.1%. WP 27.9%. BS 27.1%.

(Goh Chok Tong won his first election in Marine Parade. 1976)

(Chiam See Tong. The longest serving opposition MP from 1984 to 2011. He first contested in 1976)

Almost half the number of seats was uncontested in GE 1980 and PAP was one seat away to forming the government on nomination day. This was also the debut of the newly-founded SDP (Chiam See Tong). The school streaming system and former PAP Minister Phey Yew Kok's fraud of trade union funds were the main issues of this GE. Phey jumped bail and disappeared forever. PAP achieved another clean sweep of all Parliament seats with the party's second-highest vote share. Eligible voters in 75 constituencies: 1,290,426. Voters in 37 walkover constituencies: 605,285 (46.9%). Total voters in 38 contested constituencies: 685,141 (53.1%). WP and BS contested 8 and 4 seats respectively and lost all. PAP 77.7%. WP 29.2%. BS 27%.

PAP MP Devan Nair was nominated as the third President of Singapore and vacated the Anson seat for a by-election in 1981. WP leader J. B. Jeyaretnam's victory marked the end of PAP's 15-year monopoly since BS boycott of Parliament in 1966. It also marked WP's return to the legislature since 20 years ago in 1961 and in the same seat David Marshall clinched.

(Devan Nair. Once a leftist in 1950s. He became Singapore President in 1981)

(J. B. Jeyaretnam won Anson by-election in 1981)

Friday, August 12, 2011

The many “firsts” in Singapore general elections in the turbulent years 1955-1968

Almost unthinkable before 7 May 2011 (GE 2011), that possibility became real on 19 May, 12 days after the polling day, as the key state man himself left the meeting room and called it a day. The day marked the last Cabinet meeting that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, 87, would attend. It was nearly 52 years after he chaired his first cabinet meeting with strong will and determination to break away from the British government.

(The last cabinet meeting 10 days after GE 2011 for MM Lee in his near 52 years political career. 2011) 

(The new cabinet sworn in on 21 May 2011)

Lee Kuan Yew was painfully aware that the Japanese as well as the British, as foreigners, had no right to govern his people. He therefore resolved to make Singapore independent and free from foreign rule. He described the impact of the Japanese occupation on his future:

I did not enter politics. The Japanese brought politics to me. … The Japanese occupying forces were blind and brutal and made me, and a whole generation like me, in Singapore and Malaya, work for freedom— freedom from servitude and foreign domination. We decided that from then on our lives should be ours to decide, that we should not be the pawn and playthings of foreign powers.

-- Alex Josey, ‘Lee Kuan Yew’, 1968

Singapore was a British colony since 1819. After World War II, a strong wave of independence swept across the globe. British knew that it could no longer hold the crown of Malaya and progressively relieved the power back to the locals. The first legislative assembly election for Singapore was held in 1955 and defined an entire new era of Singapore. Locals would share executive power with the colonial authorities and there would be a Chief Minister among elected legislators. This first national election had 25 seats. Lee Kuan Yew was the elected candidate for Tanjong Pagar. This made him the longest serving member in the parliament. Total voters: 300,199. PAP fielded 4 candidates and won 3.

(Lee Kuan Yew, elected MP for Tanjong Pagar who visited 鹤山会馆,Neil Road. c.1955)

After 1955, legislators led by the Labour Front (LF) government continued to push for more autonomy. With the successful negotiation between the British and Singapore lawmakers, Singapore was granted full self-government in 1958.

The legislative assembly election 1959 was a fully-elected legislature in new self-governance Singapore. Appointed seats were abolished. All seats were for election and compulsory voting. Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock, who succeeded David Marshall after the latter resigned in 1957, used extreme measures to suppress the leftists, causing the ground to turn against him. PAP won a landslide victory to form a new government. Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew became the first Prime Minister of Singapore. Total voters: 586,098. PAP contested in all 51 seats and won 43. 54.1% of total votes’ shares.

(Swearing in of Lee Kuan Yew in 1959. Drawn by Lai Kui Fang and unveiled in 1992) 

The death of PAP Assembly Member Baharuddin Mohammed Ariff precipitated the by-election in 1961. The victory of former LF Chief Minister David Marshall, now Workers’ Party (WP) chief, symbolised WP's first presence in the legislature.

(David Marshall (1908-1995). The former Chief Minister from Labour Front. He founded Workers' Party in 1957)

The legislative assembly election 1963 held five days after Singapore's merger with Malaysia. It was probably the most hard-fought election in PAP history. Before that, the PAP government launched Operation Coldstore on 2 February 1963 and detained more than 100 Barisan Sosialis (BS) members, including several key BS leaders such as Lim Chin Siong, Fong Swee Suan, Dominic Puthucheary, Lim Hock Siew and Poh Soo Kai. BS Leader Lee Siew Chor contested PAP's Toh Chin Chye in Rochor Constituency and lost by a thin margin of 89 votes. It is still the "thinnest" record up to today.

(Singapore celebrated merger with Malaysia, 16 September 1963)

(2 years later, Lee Kuan Yew announced Singapore as a independent republic, 9 August 1965)

Sole WP Assembly Member David Marshall resigned from the party he founded and became the only independent. Thereafter, the PAP government passed a law stipulating that legislators who resign or are expelled from the parties they were elected under would lose their seats. This law had almost thrown out Chiam See Tong in 1996 when he was expelled by SDP that he founded. Total voters: 617,650. PAP contested in all 51 seats and won 37. BS contested in 46 seats and won 13. WP contested in 3 seats and lost all. PAP: 46.9%. BS: 37.1%.

On 16 September 1963, Singapore, together with Sabah and Sarawak, joined the Federation of Malaysia. PAP contested 9 seats in the 1964 Malaysia GE. Although only Devan Nair (became Singapore President in 1981) won the election in Bangsar Constituency, it aggregated the friction between the Singapore state's leaders and Malaysia's UMNO-led governing Alliance coalition.

(PAP rally in Kuala Lumpur, 1964)

Within two short turbulent years, escalating differences between the local PAP administration and the Federation government arrived at an irreconcilable stage. On 9 August 1965, the Singapore state was expelled from Malaysia to become an independent Republic. The Legislative Assembly was renamed Parliament. Since then, PAP continues to win every GE, each time returned power with an overwhelming majority.

(BS was formed in 1961. The eventual leaders on the eve of international labour day. 1960)

(BS walked out from the Parliament. 1966)

Following the resignations of 11 BS MPs and departure of two BS MPs from Singapore to escape the Internal Security Department in 1966, the legislature was left with only PAP MPs. BS boycotted the first Singapore parliament GE 1968 and several opposition parties supported its call. This proved to be a costly mistake as reflected by leader Lee Siew Choh in the later years.

(Lee Siew Choh. Costly mistakes for walked out from parliament in 1966 and boycotted GE 1968)

The results of GE1968 set three precedents - the least number of seats contested in a GE, the first time PAP was returned to power on nomination day and the first time it won all seats to return a pure one-party legislature. Eligible voters: 759,367 from 58 constituencies. Voters in 51 walkover constituencies: 674,484 (88.8%). Total voters in 7 contested constituencies: 84,883 (11.2%). WP fielded 2 candidates and lost all. PAP: 86.7%. WP: 13.2%.

Friday, August 05, 2011

At the verge of Singapore history - GE2011

GE 2011 is a significant milestone in Singapore’s political arena. Workers’ Party won an unbreakable GRC (Aljunied) and sent PAP to an emotional ground. George Yeo served in various capacities as a Cabinet Minister in MITA, Health, MTI and MFA for 23 years and was being seen as unorthodox to PAP through his various speeches. He was a wise man and full of wisdom. However, this was not enough to protect him from being booted out by the Aljunied voters.

(George Yeo packing up in his foreign affair office - facebook 2011)

One week after GE, both MM and SM decided to quit the cabinet, citing that GE2011 was a watershed for Singapore, and they have to let the younger generation to take charge. I have great respect for MM Lee who brought us to a state where we could stand up for Singapore with strong pride. Similarly, I have great respect for SM Goh who opened up the society with his consultative approach. However, I also embrace a political system that should be fully taken charged by the PM without strong burden from the legacy.

(MM Lee and SM Goh decided to quit the cabinet one week after polling day of GE 2011)

Why did George Yeo and his formidable team lose in Aljunied GRC? George Yeo gave his post-mortem analysis:

“Mr Low Thia Khiang himself said that they won Aljunied not because the Aljunied team did not do a good job, but because the voters wanted WP to be their voice in Parliament.

Mr Low's analysis is fair and I agree with him. This desire for a strong WP voice in parliament was a political tide which came in through Aljunied which we were unable to withstand despite our very best efforts. Right from the start, the Workers party made Aljunied a national battleground.”

Lim Hwee Hua (second minister for finance and transport in George Yeo’s team) admitted she was surprised that the PAP team garnered only 46 per cent of votes, an almost 10 percentage-point drop from 2006:

“We spent the last five years working hard, trying to understand... what the problems were, what the deficiencies were and to address those... It is a surprise for us that the resentment and unhappiness is so deep.”

In a separate interview by The New Paper, she was quoted as saying that she felt upset that her ‘15 long years of service’ in Aljunied GRC didn’t seem to count much as residents had no qualms sending her packing home.

Lee Kuan Yew still believed that respect of the old glories would turn into votes for PAP after 50 years of self-governance. Hence, he was possibly inferring that voters were irrational. He gave his first assessment one day after GE that the younger generation “does not remember from whence we came…That is to be expected. But I do and those amongst you who are older than 50 will remember.”

Emotion is part of the GE games in the whole world. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged the electorate to “calm down, and detach yourself, think carefully before you vote prior to the election.

A day after PM apologized for the mistakes that the government had made during a lunchtime rally, he spoke to the media: "We considered carefully and I thought this was a suitable message to Singaporeans at this stage of the campaign, to focus minds on the key issues.

"One set of key issues is the policies, housing, healthcare and so on. The other set is the politics of it and the emotional connection, which is very important, between the government and the people. So I thought the lunchtime rally at Boat Quay is a good occasion to address these points."

Initially this apology appeared to be artificial because it only surfaced when PAP sensed that the mass had been drifting away from PAP during the election campaign. However, I appreciated the sincerity of PM Lee after he announced his new cabinets within ten days after the election although the net effect has yet to be seen. He showed the exit signs to Wong Kan Seng, Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim who should be accounted for the lapses in homeland security, housing and transport policies.

(The last cabinet meeting held 10 days after polling day to thank the outgoing ministers. 2011)

PAP's systematic use of fear as a strategy to silence critics was so successful that it had become a permanent feature of the Singapore political landscape. But the climate of GE 2011 was far from fearful. Lee Kuan Yew chose to use the same tactic on Aljunied GRC, threatened the voters and humiliated the opposition:

"If you are in Aljunied, ask yourself: do you want one MP, one non-constituency MP, one celebrity, two unknowns, to look after you? Or, have two ministers, one Speaker of Parliament, one very good ground worker (Ong Ye Kung) and Cynthia Phua to look after the place?

"What will happen to your property values and your own comfort, the drains and mosquitoes and so on in the five years? You have this celebrity, he has been away 30 years, he comes back, how does he connect with us?

"It may well happen. If they win, in which case, the people of Aljunied live with the results. The only way people learn is when they have to pay a price."

Lee Kuan Yew openly declared that losing Aljunied would not be a major setback. “If Aljunied decides to go that way, well Aljunied has five years to live and repent.”

Goh Chok Tong was the only cabinet minister supported George Yeo strongly at all cost: "If one GRC is lost, as Minister Mentor (Lee Kuan Yew) said, we can accept the result. I agree with that. Sooner or later we are going to lose one. But my view if we lose Aljunied, that is a different matter……What mistake has he made? You can take a minister and criticise him for not delivering on perhaps housing and transport. Like Wong Kan Seng you can say he let Mas Selamat escape. George Yeo, what has he done to deserve this?"

Between Goh Chok Tong and Lee Kuan Yew, they have at least one strategy in common. Goh Chok Tong adopted the same “price-tag” approach to discredit the opposition. In less than a week after proclaiming that he would not comment on candidates outside his GRC, he made a U-turn and launched a sarcastic criticism of his former principal private secretary (PPS) Tan Jee Say:

“He was an able, hardworking PPS, but I did not think he would make it as a Permanent Secretary.”

PM was quick to sense that the fear factor did not work well in connecting with people anymore and he had his personal fear arising from such fear tactic as well. He feared that such threatening approach would generate a negative impact on PAP nationwide. He also felt that the impact generated from Lee Kuan Yew was likely to be far greater than Goh Chok Tong. Hence, he responded immediately to distant himself by declaring that Lee (KY) and Lee (HL) were different entities. Each of them entitled to their own view. However, his father’s view was not his view.

In the days leading up to the election, the emergence of a large group of internet savvy’s Singaporeans articulated their minds fearlessly in the social media. They even showed open, bold support for the opposition. Their confidence seemed infectious, spreading quickly among the people.

In the space of just a few years, the various opposition parties had clearly undergone a remarkable transformation, producing candidates to match any PAP team in their professional credentials. In the nine-day campaigning period, they had drilled into people’s heart and soul and improved their respective public standing. Indeed, the Workers' Party had risen to be a star so much so that the PAP had to do last-minute scrambling to come up with new campaign strategies. After the election, PAP has to do soul searching and acknowledge that the party was inflexible with outdated style of connection with the mass. They have to engage citizens in policy making and treated citizens with better care from now on. Most importantly, I wish to see the new government managing the country with heart and respecting the dignity of our citizens, not a profit making's Singapore Inc.

(A shrink of new cabinet from 21 down to 15 ministers. 2011)

As George Yeo put it, the need for the PAP to review the way it governs was an issue. He raised it on the last day of the nine-day campaign. With Singaporeans feeling “considerable resentment” towards the ruling party and its policies, it needed to listen harder, and to take into account people's unease over the pace of change driven by globalization.

“From time to time, it's important to shake the box, because whatever system you set up after a while becomes so predictable that it doesn't capture all the feedback that it needs to have….So a certain shaking of the box is required from time to time — and this is such a time.”

He acknowledged that he was “often a minority voice” in the “broad church” (the PAP). And he used the word PAP has to “transform”, not “reform”.

(The WP team for Aljunied GRC. 2011)

In deed George Yeo was unfortunate that he was positioned in Aljunied right at the crest of the tide. With his departure from the cabinet scene, MM and SM also issued a joint statement to leave the cabinet. In their short statement, the words "young" and "younger" have been used 6 times. It sent a strong signal that between MM, SM and the nation, generation gap and out-dated style of connection co-existed. They chose to retire from the cabinet scene would allow the PM to fully take charge.

We have studied the new political situation and thought how it can affect the future. We have made our contributions to the development of Singapore. The time has come for a younger generation to carry Singapore forward in a more difficult and complex situation. The Prime Minister and his team of younger leaders should have a fresh clean slate. A younger generation, besides having a non-corrupt and meritocratic government and a high standard of living, wants to be more engaged in the decisions which affect them. After a watershed general election, we have decided to leave the cabinet and have a completely younger team of ministers to connect to and engage with this young generation in shaping the future of our Singapore.

But the younger team must always have in mind the interests of the older generation. This generation who has contributed to Singapore must be well-looked after.

GE2011 also brought some burning questions at the verge of modern Singapore history, such as:

- Did Singapore really provide equal opportunities to each Singaporeans? How had it been done?

- How did government relate to men on the street? More dialogue sessions = better communication?

- Should Singapore Inc. be abolished? What are the replacements?

- How to rewind the time by 50 years to inject heartware and humanware into PAP politics?

-Why should SM system exist? (Both MM and SM had decided to embrace the young by quitting the cabinet).

-Where is PAP heading towards in the next 5 years? (Based on all the ministerial announcements, it seems that embracing the power of the people will be the direction for policy making in order to win back the hearts of Singaporeans).

-On a minor scale (Marine Parade GRC), what were the impact of Ling versus Ling and new social media on the election outcome? (Goh Chok Tong claimed that Ling versus Ling had an impact on votes. But the Ling’s impact alone should not be so great to drag the Marine Parade GRC votes’ shares to below national average.)

(Ling versus Ling - PAP Ting Pui Ling and NSP Nicole Seah Xue Ling. 2011)

-How would WP and opposition parties capitalize on the current tide? (One week after GE, Sylvia Lim resigned from her Tamasek Polytechnic lecturer post and sought for flexible job so that she could devote more time to Aljunied GRC. She refused to be a full time MP, probably a full time MP would set too high a standard for the future WP candidates to step forward).

-Why should GRC exist?

After note (17 October 2012):
Hong Kong South China Morning Post (南华早报) published an interview with George Yeo on 13 October 2012, Pg B4. In addition to the post of vice-chairman of Kerry Group which publishes the South China Morning Post, he is also the new chairman of Kerry Logistics, a unit of Hong Kong-listed Kerry Properties.

When asked why did he give up his political career and become a businessman, George Yeo replied,

I was in politics for 23 years until I lost in the last election. The opposition leader who beat me, when he was interviewed, said, "We won not because my opponents (meaning me and my team) did not do a good job, but because people wanted us in Parliament." I thought if there was not something that I could change, because it was not something about me, maybe it was time to open a new chapter of my life.