After losing his Aljunied seat in the last General Elections (GE), former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo has pretty much stayed out of the limelight. I always thought that was unfortunate because Mr. Yeo was one of the more popular government ministers in the Singapore government.
Mr. Yeo is now back in the stoplight though the People’s Action Party (PAP) probably wished he wasn’t. Last week, Mr. Yeo publicly acknowledged that many Singaporeans had lost faith in the PAP government and that Singaporeans have to set aside political differences and work together as a nation. Most Singaporeans including the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) secretary-general Dr. Chee Soon Juan take his statement to mean the ruling PAP and the opposition parties.
If that is the case, then I find the statement to be incredibly strange.
Mr. Yeo’s statement urged politicians from both the ruling and opposition parties to work together with people's interest at heart. However, there are less than 10 opposition Members of Parliament right now. That’s nowhere near enough for the opposition to affect policy in any meaningful way. Why this call to work together when everyone knows the PAP ruled the roost? It just makes no sense.
To me, his statement would only make sense if it is meant for members of the PAP only. The evidence has been piling up for a while now. Outside the loss of Aljunied GRC in the GE, many Singaporeans voted for Dr. Tan Cheng Bock (who is a PAP veteran) instead of the PAP-back Dr. Tony Tan in the Presidential Elections last year.
To me, Mr. Yeo’s statement does not seem like an off-the-cuff remark. After his defeat in the GE, Mr. Yeo said that he will help the PAP to reform itself for the Singapore public. Dr. Tan Cheng Bock went even further after his defeat in the Presidential Elections, publicly stating that there was a spilt in the PAP, and that the grassroots were not happy with the PAP leadership.
You put two and two together and it seems to me that Mr. Yeo’s statement reflect that of a frustrated man. Any reform Mr. Yeo seems to want has failed and the spilt within the PAP stated by Dr. Tan Cheng Bock is still there. Time will tell if the spilt will hurt the PAP in the next GE.