Singaporean opposition politician for People’s Voice Party (PVP) Kok Ming Cheang has warned of the grooming style of the People’s Action Party (PAP) when elections come around. Singling out potential PAP candidates Gan Siow Huang and Desmond Tan, Mr Kok warned that once in Parliament, they will no longer be the “smiling faces” they are projected to be.
Mr Kok on Tuesday (June 16) took to Facebook to share a political pattern he has found with regard to the nation’s ruling party, the PAP. Citing a parliamentary debate he had just watched between Workers’ Party leader Pritam Singh and Minister of State Chee Hong Tat, Mr Kok said “It wasn’t soothing to the ears,” as Mr Chee’s manner of responding to Mr Pritam was “the same as he had responded to WP’s questions in Parliament in the past.”
As he reflected on the beginning of Mr Chee’s political career, Mr Kok found a disconnect between Mr Chee’s happy countenance when his identity as a political candidate was first revealed and the change that seemed to happen after he was elected into Parliament. “I recalled his nice smile when he was first revealed by the media. What a change Parliament has done to him,” wrote Mr Kok, stressing that it is the same with other PAP politicians. “Before they entered Parliament and after being in Parliament seem to make them changed significantly, not just their looks but also their mannerism(s) and how they respond to questions. They even learned to speak badly behind our backs.”
Now that Singapore’s General Elections are nearing, Mr Kok sees the same pattern with how the PAP grooms its potential candidates. “Another new batch of political trainees are being put forth to Singaporeans in the media to gain their votes. All are looking good, well groomed with a welcoming smile,” he said, before singling out Gan Siow Huang and Desmond Tan, who are both “stepping down from their senior positions in public sector or SAF, to go into politics.”
Calling the method “almost a guarantee” for PAP candidates to win seats in Parliament “to carry on the PAP style of governance,” Mr Kok contrasted the strategy with those used in other countries, where leaders “are selected through tough electoral contest, and simply not identified and chosen by a ruling party.”
Furthermore, Mr Kok questioned if the PAP’s strategy is the the source of the nation’s “weak leadership,” and the “tame” character of Parliament, as he argued that there seems to be a lack of challenge and criticism when it comes to government proposals.
Given this, Mr Kok pushed for Singaporeans to look for authenticity in candidates, saying, “We Singaporeans ought to be more discerning and not be easily swayed by the smiling faces of PAP candidates during the General Election…for sure, we won’t see their smiling faces after they enter Parliament.”