By Andrew Loh
The backlash against the People’s Action Party (PAP) leaders’ personal attacks against Dr Chee Soon Juan has been swift and shrill.
In fact, the negative reaction has been so stunning that even its own candidate, Murali Pillai, has “attempted to distance himself from the war of words in which his party seniors are engaged in with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
It is also a sign that Mr Murali himself, an experienced lawyer with a top law firm here, has lost control of his own election campaign in Bukit Batok – and how his campaign would become a sham if the vileness of his leaders’ character assassination methods continued.
It seems there are two sides to Mr Murali’s campaign: one, DPM Tharman pledging to fight a clean campaign; and two, an unclean campaign being waged against the SDP by his party leaders.
Did ministers like Grace Fu and Halimah Yacob and the secretary general himself not receive the memo from Mr Tharman about keeping it clean?
Or are Tharman’s words worthless?
Whatever it is, the PAP candidate himself apparently finds the character assasination such a vile thing that he has attempted to distance himself from it.
‘According to the TODAY newspaper on Sunday:
“Asked about the SDP’s rebuttal that the ruling party was engaging in “character assassination”, Mr Murali said he would like to focus on his own agenda.”
Mr Murali, wisely, side-stepped the issue completely, perhaps knowing that getting drawn into it will only lower himself to the pits of mediocrity, and raise further questions about the control he has over his own campaign.
But Mr Murali cannot, in fact, distance himself from his own campaign, even if he “attempts” to. How could he? It would be disowning his own candidacy which is ludicrous – unless he announces he won’t go further in the by-election and forfeits the parliamentary seat.
But here is the thing: at every election – every single one – the PAP does nothing but to character assassinate their opponents.
It. Is. Extremely. Tiresome.
I suspect the reason why the PAP candidates are unable to debate on issues and policies is because the substantive content of policies are created and researched by civil servants, and not these candidates/MPs.
Thus, the modus operandi for the PAP is always – always – to smear, to insult, to cast aspersions on others.
If Murali truly wants a clean fight, he would tell his PAP ministers to stop the filth that’s coming out of their mouths – and do as his PAP colleague, Sitoh Yihpin, did in 2011.
Sitoh, after failing to win Potong Pasir twice, finally decided he would go it alone, and to fight a gentleman’s fight.
I recall his campaign was quite toned down, with hardly any minister showing up to support him during the elections, if my memory serves me.
He introduced himself as the PAP candidate at a walkway or some like, without the frills. Unlike all of his colleagues, there was no minister to accompany him.
He was alone.
I was struck by this at the time.
And Sitoh won – after the third try – even though his party had its worst showing in years, losing a GRC for the first time, and with its votes the lowest since independence.
I don’t recall Sitoh employed smears on Mr Chiam during the campaign.
And therefore, not a few opposition supporters I know have respect for Sitoh.
And in his first speech in Parliament, he spoke with conviction, reminding the PAP not to take the people for granted.
It was one of the best speeches from a PAP MP.
What personally impressed me is how he did not gloat about his victory. And I am glad to see he remains on good terms with Mr Chiam.
So, Murali should take after Sitoh Yihpin – battle it alone. Tell his bosses to shut up. To stop the incessant dirty character assassination.
Murali, now more than ever, needs to be his own man, and to be seen to be one.
Now to “attempt” to “distance” himself from his leaders only speaks of irresponsibility, and yes, cowardice.
He should own his campaign, and all that his teammates do.
He should therefore publicly repudiate the vile methods of his party leaders, and show himself to be his own man.
For what sort of MP would he be if he can’t even control how his own campaign is run?
Or is this how he actually wants his campaign to be run – by running down others with personal attacks and smears?
You are the candidate running for public office. Surely you would have the biggest say in how your campaign is run. And if you cannot run your own campaign, how are you going to run a town council?
You can’t hide behind others, and then simply “attempt” to “distance” yourself and pretend like nothing has happened.
To do so would truly show the kind of character you possess.
Is Murali his own man, or is he an owned man?
He claims he will speak up in Parliament. Well, here is a perfect opportunity to prove it.
At the moment, however, he is – to steal the words of Alex Au – as limp as a flag on a windless day, an impotent eunuch allowing his election campaign to be hijacked and turned into a smear campaign.
How is this being your own man?
Republished with permission from Andrew Loh’s website.