Ivan Lim has proven the case for the opposition

As mentioned in my last posting, there’s very little to say about Singapore’s General Elections. The result is a forgone conclusion and it’s a question of how badly the opposition parties get drubbed. As I’ve argued constantly, while the PAP governments have made mistakes, they’ve not done enough to lose elections. If you look at the results of the last few elections, the results have been pretty much the same. The ruling party enters this contest with the crucial advantage of a brand reputation for competence in governing.

Furthermore, the ruling party has used its advantages of incumbency. It called the election not long after giving out money to help people with the economic damages of Covid-19 and at a time when rules limiting the size of gatherings are in force, thus hobbling the opposition parties’ chances of holding large rallies. This is in addition to famously redrawing electoral boundaries in its favour. Despite its obvious advantages going into the fight, the ruling party famously does not leave things to chance. You can think of Singapore’s General Election as a fight between a gorilla that ties the arms of the chihuahua before stepping into the boxing ring with the chihuahua.

Change must be coming faster to Singapore’s political scene than anyone imagined. The ruling party has a single stroke, proceeded to give the opposition a gift that shreds one of its most crucial tenants – namely the reputation for competence. This has been done before a single shot has been fired in the proverbial war.

Mr. Ivan Lim, who had planned to stand for election as a candidate for the ruling party has just announced that he is no longer standing for election because of pressure from the online crowd. The story can be found at: [LINK]

If you read the story of Mr. Lim’s withdrawal, you’ll realise that it’s a sign of Singapore politics being more normal. Candidates who run for political office most democracies have to be prepared for every detail of their private lives to be scrutinized and the unwritten understanding is that when a candidate runs for office and gains office and all the power and perks that go with the said office, that they sacrifice the right of privacy.

At the most basic level, you could say Mr. Lim failed that hurdle of not being able to withstand public scrutiny and that the ruling party had failed to realise that the times had changed. While can rely on favourable coverage from the mainstream media, this the age of social media, which allows alternative voices to speak loudly.

This is the kindest thing that one can say about the ruling party and its former candidate. Further discussion would suggest that the ruling party’s machinery has major issues.

Mr. Lim was selected as a candidate because he checked the usual boxes of having the right credentials – namely former military officer and senior executive at a large local company linked to the government. However, within a matter of days of announcing his candidacy, one of the men who served under Mr. Lim posted something about Mr. Lim being an elitist and arrogant shit and which lead to other people posting things about him at his work place. The posting can be seen below:

More seriously, this led to allegations that Mr. Lim was involved in a bribery scandal over a project that his company was involved in, in Brazil. A report of the allegation can be found at: [LINK]

Despite an online petition, Mr. Lim at first promised to fight the election and was even supported by the Minister for the Environment, Mr. Masagos Zulkifi. Mr. Lim’s defense of the allegations and Mr. Masagos’s reaction can be found here and here.

All of this could be a mistake that was corrected if this was any other party. However, this is not the case. Our ruling party has built its entire reputation around its competence and getting the best people possible. More importantly, Singapore’s government has stressed to the world that it is a vigorous champion of honest government. Our message to anyone planning to invest in Singapore is that while we may be a little pricier, we are transparent and you will never pay a bribe or be shaken down by officials.

Lee Kuan Yew was very clear about this point. He paid ministers well but insisted on the highest standards of integrity in public office. Any government official caught with his or her hands in the proverbial cookie jar was always humiliated in public.

So, the fundamental question here is, how did Mr. Lim even get selected to become a potential MP? The PAP has always made it a point to stress that it gets people of not just high levels of competence but character and basic integrity.

Leaving aside Mr. Lim’s alleged elitst attitudes, there was an allegation floating around the internet that he may have had a connection to a major bribery scandal that was reported in the international media. How is it such that this most careful of political parties did not pick it up? It’s not like they didn’t have the resources to check on him.

Mr. Lim was a “tainted” candidate and the most charitable conclusion is that there was a fault in the vetting process. The next best thing you can say is that someone in the ruling party didn’t think it was important that there was such an allegation attached to Mr. Lim or that they could cover it up.

Mr. Lim has just proven to the electorate that Singapore needs a stronger opposition presence in parliament to ensure that the highest standards of competence and integrity that Lee Kuan Yew’s initial PAP governments told us to demand are maintained.


Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.




14 Responses to “Ivan Lim has proven the case for the opposition”

  • Backfire:

    When you enter politics you immediately become public property. In the past they had good time screening political opponents because the machinery is at their disposal.

    Remember at one time Rajaratnam said at a rally tht his political opponent is a bicycle thief.

    Now with social media, all their dirt could be dug out. So its payback time and get a taste o your own medicine.

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  • Priority:

    The common man just wish for a better life than now.With a decent job so that they can take care of their family needs.
    They just wish the best and honest person will be elected to fight for them.
    One that will have integrity and empathy for them .
    One that will truly walk with them at their time of need.
    One with a conscience and a heart to do the right thing for Singapore.
    It does not matter which party the person belong to…

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  • Be REAL:

    Hello, how come like that?

    Quickly backed out and ran back to mother instead of stand up and fight like a man and soldier.

    So during war, first sight of enemy and promptly withdraw. Don’t want to defend, is it?

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  • Topsy turvy:

    Mango Sago was quick to defend ah lim.

    After that, nothing heard anymore.

    And heng heng said selection rigorous and thorough mah.

    Why like that?

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  • Sojoürner:

    First, the whole idea of a meritocracy has lead to the selection of narcissistic individuals like Ivan Lim who is driven to compete for status, since he tends to see life as one big competition—the war of one against all. Thus, they want results faster, they want rewards faster. People like him can’t understand that their jobs in the high echelons of corporate or government bureaucracy often require some sacrifice of their personal interests for the good of all.

    Power corrupts, and in this case, the best and the brightest breeds smugness and myopia. In short, we’re selecting for the corrupt and foolish, since the system puts so much emphasis on attaining positions of power that we see the morality of true jungle brought into our fair land. Can there be any question why common people no longer trust such rapacious rulers? The diminished trust might just be a side effect of increased resentment.

    Over the decades we have learned that the driving force of most successful people here is pure GREED. Seriously, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the cart. We don’t live in a meritocracy. It is an elitism of money rather than an elitism of intellectuality & accountability.

    Until a critical mass of individuals is willing to actively reject the culture of nepotism, cronyism and mediocrity, no amount of educational achievements will save us.

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  • Lion king:

    Commanders in the armed forces have to be tough and no nonsense, they have to command like lions and should never talk to their soldiers like they were talking to their girlfriends!

    In the army man, what do you expect?

    Really knn!

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  • MarBowling:


    Think the proverbial cookie jar is BIG ENOUGH FOR MORE THAN JUST ONE HAND! Period.

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  • Can you handle it?:

    Lion king:
    Commanders in the armed forces have to be tough and no nonsense, they have to command like lions and should never talk to their soldiers like they were talking to their girlfriends!

    In the army man, what do you expect?

    Really knn!

    Ya lor, just want to stay inside aircon tent.

    How to fight in real war?

    KNNBCCB wake up your idea!

    GD Star Rating
  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    Had we not have “social media”, ST et al would never have published citizens’ letters about this guy. Then PAP’s possible lacking at its scrutiny of candidates would never show up. Just shows the disservice of our national presses and media. How many more of such cases were covered up by press and media censorship in the past, before internet?

    GD Star Rating
  • BillyMa:

    I got the $$$ from the the government.
    I’m happy.

    And I’m also happy to vote WP.

    it’s win win for me.

    GD Star Rating
  • Prophecy King:

    I am not a prophet but has accurate prophecised many things.

    This one will be no different:

    I prophecise once the mandate is renewed, they will just make a claim that an extremely thorough investigation has been conducted and found non of the allegations stand and Ivan is cleared and clean.
    And there is no way for us to independently audit this claim.
    Like China system. What the cccp says cannot be audited and has to be deemed legally true.

    And possibly the accuser will be charged.

    I know many of you would agree with my prophecy.

    But please do not accuse me of being a prophet. I cannot be independently audited
    To prove what I claim.
    Either you believe me or you do not believe me. I won’t sue you if you do not believe me.

    GD Star Rating
  • TumasikPatriot:

    Paying well does NOT result in a well-performing “group thinking”…

    what entails is a group of A-H seeking the easy way to easy MONEY$$$ without having to “think” much…

    all the “thinking” is in a HandBook dictated by the “powers that be” a dynastic CORRUPT & CRONY handful that calls the SHOT…

    shoot them Down from the wall and Humpty Dumpty the well-fed Fat Pig will FALL

    GD Star Rating
  • Lion king:

    Can you handle it?: Ya lor, just want to stay inside aircon tent.

    How to fight in real war?

    KNNBCCB wake up your idea!

    Well said, all those junior officers got inside the tent because of aircon!

    How to fight if their commanders did not wake up their idea in time?

    [email protected]#$%+&&$$#@,,,,!

    GD Star Rating
  • AristoCATs - who is surprised?:

    No surprise.
    AristoCAT George Yeo – Know your place
    “Remember your place in society before you engage in political debate…
    … people should not take on those in authority as ‘equals’.”
    — Former Foreign Minister George Yeo (1994)
    Remember the Ballot Box !

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