As the news of the sudden resignation of Member of Parliament Michael Palmer still vibrate through
Singapore, one thing is clear. The
People’s Action Party (PAP) was caught with its pants down.
The reason I say this is not because of the affair of Michael Palmer but because of the reaction of the PAP to the scandal. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has already faced calls from the opposition to call a by-election in Punggol East and is refusing to state when the by-election would be called. That tells me the PAP was caught unaware by the scandal because if I was in the PAP, I will call the by-election immediately.
There are 2 reasons for this. First, Palmer won the seat in 2011 by winning 54.5% of the votes. Frankly, Punggol is an area the PAP should not have any problem winning in. Second, I don’t think the opposition is united enough to field just one candidate for the seat. In 2011, both the Workers' Party (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Alliance both fielded candidates. There’s no reason for anyone to think a multi-corner fight won’t happen again. Think about it, the Reform Party has Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the Singapore People's Party has Lina Chiam, the Singapore Democratic Party has Chee Soon Juan, the WP has…? They just don’t have anyone available with the star power needed to take the seat from the PAP. In fact, the longer the PAP delayed, the more time they would give to the opposition to get their house in order.
So if I’m a PAP member, I will give the opposition exactly what they want. Hold the by-elections immediately and watch as the opposition field more than one candidate. For the PAP, this is the best available route to go. The fact that they have not done tells me that they were caught unaware by the Palmer resignation.