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The Mother of all Conventions




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By: Augustine Low

It was as if the frenetic in-your-face style of President Donald Trump had rubbed off on him. The United States trip fresh off his back, PM Lee Hsien Loong delivered a hodge podge of a speech at the PAP Convention which raised the eyebrows of Singaporeans, drew the ire of Malaysians and maybe, just maybe even provoked a response form the Lightning God.

To Singaporeans, he as much as declared that taxes will be raised sooner than later. No ifs, no buts. And then with uncommon courage and conviction, he reminded Singaporeans they could always trust the PAP to do the right thing, even the painful thing.

We are probably going to hear a lot of that word – TRUST – in the months ahead. The question PM Lee asked, as he usually does when it comes to trust: Have we delivered on our promises? There is a great deal of subjectivity in this, maybe more yes than no. There are two other questions he should ask, going forward: Have we always been accountable and transparent? Have we always put people first and not party first? I suspect the answers to those two latter questions would be more complicated for him.

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PM then touched on MRT woes for the first time. Problems must be solved! (we know that). Lessons must be learned!! (we already know). Khaw Boon Wan has the PAP vote of confidence!!! (no surprise there). So it was all neither here nor there, but perhaps it was better than total silence.

Then he spoke about Pedra Branca and Malaysian politics all in the same breath, and we know what has transpired since. Folks across the Causeway have protested and condemned it in the strongest terms, calling it “an irresponsible accusation that can damage the good relations between Malaysia and Singapore.” Who knows what will happen next?

And to cap off an eventful event, the Lightning God struck – an MRT train on the East-West Line was struck by lightning and stalled near Bedok station a little past 4pm the next day. Perhaps mere coincidence and a stroke of bad luck.

Nevertheless the PAP logo is a blue circle with a blue lightning bolt. What it portends we shall have to leave to the imaginative readers of William Shakespeare or Catherine Lim who wrote “Or Else, the Lightning God & Other Stories.”

Augustine Low is a former journalist and managing director of a public relations agency.

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