In a rather confusing Facebook post, defeated People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate in Aljunied GRC Victor Lye Thiam Fatt warned the people about “those who are truly politicians” while asserting that PAP activists should first and foremost be “political leaders”.

Aljunied GRC is held by the Workers’ Party (WP). Even though the opposition party won the ward in the 2011 and 2015 General Elections, some of the PAP candidates who faced off with the WP and lost have been installed in the ward as grassroots advisers. One such individual is Mr Lye.

Revealing that he made these same remarks at a meeting for PAP activists in the North-East district – a meeting that was attended by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Indranee Rajah – Mr Lye recounted that he told the activists that they need to be “ordinary and down-to-earth” and do not need to be spoken to as “office holders or heavyweights.”

In his post that was riddled with the phrase ‘therefore and thereby,’ Mr Lye said: “On Thursday night, shared with our NE District PAP activists about being ordinary and down-to-earth, people for our people. In that itself, we do not need to spoken of as office holders or heavyweights. Therefore and thereby, we know we are worthy to our people.”

Noting that PAP activists “walk among our people, even when we are not in Parliament” and “care for our seniors, our young and those with needs,” Mr Lye painted his job as a non-elected PAP representative as one that is unenviable. He said:

“To highlight issues and alternative ideas knowing in our hearts that many would NOT want to walk in our shoes. Therefore and thereby, we are sure where our hearts are.
We don’t fight when the next GE comes. We have been volunteering for our people every day since our last. We do it for our people, even if they did not vote for us. They’re our people, our Singaporeans.”

Mr Lye then advised: “Let us not be divided by those who are truly politicians. We need to be community and political leaders first and foremost.”

Alluding to tensions in other nations, Mr Lye ended his post by saying: “Therefore and thereby, Singapore has remained special and unique in the world. What say you to those who want us to be like other countries. Just look around and see. We have stayed faithful to our people, and in Aljunied. Does it count?”

While Mr Lye painted his work as a non-elected PAP branch chairman as something that is perhaps looked down upon, he did not mention the benefits he and his colleagues receive by being appointed grassroots advisers in the opposition-held ward.

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WP secretary-general and Aljunied GRC MP, Pritam Singh, recently said that these grassroots advisers have the power to disburse the S$40 million that is made available to all town councils for community upgrading projects and have the authority to approve or reject community improvement projects the WP proposes.

Decrying how unfair the practice of installing defeated PAP candidates as grassroots advisers in opposition wards is, Mr Singh that this practice makes defeated ruling party members “relevant for residents” and allows them to “campaign for votes well before the General Elections” since their appointments as grassroots leaders gives them the authority to dispense “large sums of taxpayer dollars.”

Curiously, none of the opposition parties that have been defeated in other wards have had the opportunity to place their representatives and branch chairmen to run grassroots activities in the wards they hope to contest, in between election terms.

Mr Lye’s post, meanwhile, has drawn sharp criticism online. Reddit user zoltar11 said: “It’s bizarre to see a politician warning us about ‘those who are truly politicians’. It’s almost as if he is trying to say that despite being a politician, he is not ‘truly a politician’! Nice try, but a long-time card carrying member of the ruling party and former election candidate is no political outsider.”

Pointing to former WP Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Yee Jenn Jong’s response to the “simplistic view that the opposition are the bad guys,” the netizen further said:

“The narrative that voting for the incumbent government is being a good citizen who wants Singapore to prosper is problematic because it oversimplifies politics into good versus evil. One side exclusively cares for the people whereas the other side only consists of troublemakers and traitors.
“Obviously this is not true. There are people in both the ruling party and the opposition who spend their precious weekends doing grassroots work and helping those in need. Many of these people on both sides serve out of good intentions and do make meaningful contributions to the lives of others.
“Instead of oversimplifying the differences and voting out of a misguided desire for unity, it would be more logical if people actually looked at the parties and the individuals contesting. While the situation in some democracies like the USA is bad, this had more to do with the polarizing culture war than the mere existence of alternative voices in the legislature. It’s ridiculous to use ‘becoming like other countries’ as a boogeyman to scare voters away from considering other parties.
“Even if 1,2,5 or 10 more opposition MPs were voted in, the government will not collapse or lose its super majority. Things will go on as usual, but with more questions and interesting discussions in parliament. Singapore will continue to prosper.”

u/zoltar11 added: “Therefore and thereby…. Therefore and thereby…. Therefore and thereby, greater political competition and diversity in parliament are bad things that could make us like other countries. That is apparently the point he is making. He seems to believe that only one political party can do the things he has mentioned. His post implies that he thinks it’s a binary choice – PAP that cares for seniors, the young and those with needs against ‘those who are truly politicians’.”

Others said that they were confused by what Mr Lye was trying to say and that Mr Lye may be “itching” to become an MP:

lazerspewpew86: Too bad this guy isn’t in my GRC, it would give me real physical pleasure to vote against him.
NotSiaoOn: Huh? What is he trying to say?
lizhien: I’ll respect him more if he continues being the fireman. He’s itching for that MP title for far too long.
Athedi: That’s an amazing word salad that manages to say absolutely nothing.

Earlier, several netizens poked fun at Lye, opining that he is simply praising himself, after he shared an exchange he had with a young resident at the opposition ward.

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Revealing that the resident had asked him how much he was paid for doing community service as he made his rounds in Aljunied GRC, Lye wrote:

“The answer is “not a cent”. I told him we as volunteers even spend our own money doing community work. He was surprised, but appreciated the truth. Seems he was told something different by others. He then asked me when I started volunteering. The answer is “since 1999″ when I wanted to help those who lost jobs in the Asian Financial Crisis.”

Lye then shared that another resident asked him why the PAP Aljunied GRC team did not receive Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats, even though they “lost by the smallest margin”:

“Later, another resident asked if the best losers in the elections are paid for their unelected seats in Parliament.
“I answered, “yes”. Then, he laughed, “but actually, you guys in Aljunied GRC lost by the smallest margin (of less than one percent). Yet, opposition losers gets paid and sit in Parliament while you still walk the ground with no pay and no Parliament seat? Better you join opposition! Le siow ah!”
“I decided to let him have the last laugh while I focused on resolving problems faced by a resident. Another day in Aljunied GRC…”

Asserting that this is just a “wayang” or an act, netizens opined that Lye appears “proud and arrogant” and that he may just be gunning for the high salaries elected politicians are paid here.

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