include("cmp.php");

Them’s The Breaks

It’s been a dramatic week for Prime Ministers of the most powerful nations on the planet. The most recent news was the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister and a few days earlier, Mr. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was forced out of power.

While Mr. Abe’s assassination has been the more dramatic of the two, Mr. Johnson’s “political assassination” is perhaps more instructive to political systems around the world. What made it particularly instructive was the fact that Mr. Johnson was forced to resign by his own party rather than by any external force like a vote of no confidence or an election defeat. Mr. Johnson’s resignation speech can be found at: [LINK]

In the aftermath of Mr. Johnson’s resignation, the American media held a series of shows on the differences between the Conservative Party in the UK and the Republican party in the USA. The main question was “how was it such that the Conservatives were willing to dump Boris, while the Conservatives were quite happy to dump Boris?” On my social media feed also had people asking if Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) would ever dump a party leader in the same way that the UK had.

The answer to this question is simple. It’s also a brutal reminder about the nature of leadership, organisations and loyalty.

Let’s start with the obvious. Mr. Johnson had become a liability to this party. While the Conservative Party under Mr. Johnson saw its majority increase (increase 48 seats and Labour lost 60) in the 2019 General Election, Mr. Johnson squandered his electoral victory in a series of scandals like Partygate and the Pincher Affair. A list of Mr. Johnson’s scandals can be found at: [LINK]

The end came for Mr. Johnson came when he started bleeding members of his cabinet, most noticeably losing the likes of Health Minister Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer on the same day. The message that the party thought that Mr. Johnson was an incompetent and self-interested SOB could not have gotten any clearer. Mr. Johnson was not going to have the support of his party, let alone the support of parliament.

Mr. Johnson’s forced resignation isn’t the Westminster System. I’m old enough to remember when the Conservatives Forced Mrs. Thatcher out of power. Unlike Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Thatcher had a reputation for competence and had a track record of winning three (3) General Elections with decent sized majorities. However, by 1990, she was embroiled in two potentially vote losing issues, specifically Europe and the “Community Charge” or the “Poll Tax.” Her Cabinet Colleagues read the winds of change and realized that she could cost them their jobs and her “track record” was no indicator of future performance in the polls and so they dumped her. Something similar happened to Mr. Blair nearly a decade and a half later.

In the Asia Pacific Region, we’ve seen several cases of internal party struggles. Most noticeable examples are in Australia, which saw the change of power twice between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard from the Labour Party and more recently between Tony Abbot to Malcom Turnbull to Scott Morrison. The reason for all of these power changes was the same as in the UK. The party believed the leader was a liability rather than an asset.

Unlike Mr. Johnson, Mr. Trump has yet to be perceived by the Republican Party as a “vote loser.” Say what you like about Mr. Trump but he has been an effective vote getter from a certain segment of the population, who have stuck with him despite the various scandals and issues surrounding him. Republican candidates for office have been very aware that Mr. Trump has the ability to swing votes in their direction or away. While Mr. Trump was never a “preferred” candidate of the Republican Party, he had and still has a very powerful assert – namely a core group of followers who have until now done as Mr. Trump has requested. This isn’t lost on Republican candidates for office.

Now, should any of the factual findings of the January 6 Committee affect the way his followers think, things could change for Mr. Trump.

Whilst Singapore’s electoral system has yet to reach a stage of accommodating a two-party system (Opposition Parties still fight elections on the premise that they will be stronger opposition parties rather than replacing the governing party), something similar happened. Our Prime Minister-in-Waiting was Mr. Heng Swee Kiat. Then in April 2021, Mr. Heng ruled himself out of the running for job that the public had perceived that he was already anointed for. Mr. Heng cited his age and health as a reason for stepping away from the top job. The more cynical have suggested that his ability to bring in votes as seen in the 2020 General Election was the bigger factor.

Like it or not, one of the key facets of staying on top is the ability to take care of the people below you. In electoral politics this usually means taking care of your political allies who want to b around you because you bring in the votes. While it’s less obvious in non-democratic systems, the top always retains an eye on the bottom. Hungry people with nothing to lose can be exceedingly dangerous to the top. As a rule of thumb, revolutions do not happen in places where people feel they are well taken care of.

What people look it is also the here and now. As is often said, past performance does not indicate future success and while “demanding” in the present has been decried as short-term thinking, it’s also a sign of maturity. Here in the “developing” world there are too many examples of modern political parties screwing up and fighting on the grounds that they were the party of an independence leader. Example that comes to mind is the ANC in South Africa that rest on the legacy Mandela. Some might argue that Singapore’s PAP fights elections on the premise that the population has a debt of gratitude to Lee Kuan Yew.

Let’s remember that political leaders, no matter how good, a merely servants doing a job and the only appraisal should be the here and now. Think of Winston Churchill, the leader who won a war that nobody expected the British to win. Was he lionized? He was but shortly after being the war, he was kicked out of 10 Downing Street because the electorate didn’t believe he could win them the peace. While Churchill did get a second term, he was effectively pushed into retirement by ill health. The public in the UK showed maturity in understanding that gratitude to the hero of the war did not extend to giving him continued access to the levers of power.

 

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.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

9 Responses to “Them’s The Breaks”

  • Accountability and benevolent.:

    A wise leader is both accountable and benevolent. Know how to take care of the people who will give him the support…
    Better to serve than to rule….
    When the people are hungry and angry…it is not a good sign…k=like Sri Lanka.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Best learn from Sg:

    Use $$$ to seal their powerful mouths.
    Use vouchers to seal their weak mouths.
    All solved.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • C’est la vie:

    ******
    SG’s future, as has always been the case, lays in the hands of its electorate, and so there, … it ends !!!

    There is no future !!!
    ***
    ******

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    Accountability and benevolent.:
    A wise leader is both accountable and benevolent. Know how to take care of the people who will give him the support…
    Better to serve than to rule….
    When the people are hungry and angry…it is not a good sign…k=like Sri Lanka.

    What makes you think our great PAP did not take care of its people ?

    PAP priority is to take care of responsible citizens, not irresponsible who screw around and expect others to foot the bill for them.

    I like old man…Chi Ko Pek in Pattaya
    https://bit.ly/3uRIPpN

    Do you help Chi Ko Pek who spend all their monies on gambling, beer and women and then start crying for sympathy?

    Can someone answer the above question ?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Its Time To Kick PAP Out:

    The PAP has not taken care of its people.Prices of everything has gone up eg electricity, water, food, etc.. Even fuel prices has gone up and LW said that motor car owners will gain if prices are down. But he forgot that the van drivers , lorry drivers etc who bring food to the stall holders and they will increase their prices becos fuel prices go up and the hawkers in turn will increase the prices of food that they are selling.

    A glass of Teh Oh Kosong now cost S$2.40 cents at the coffee shops. Even if it costs S$10/ per glass, it will not be a problem for THE Ministers. Ministers Of State and top civil servant becos they are being paid more than one million dollars salary per year. In fact every year they can purchase a Condo unit.

    Why would the Ministers etc kick out LHL when they are being paid more than one millions dollars per year ?

    The pressure is now on the people and most of them are waiting for the coming GE.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Trust only myself:

    Chief liar paying millions so other liars cannot revoke but paying ex-civil servants low pension is because no more use why worry…….?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • xoxo:

    Seriously,who exactly will REPLACE *them*?
    The oppo here seems not to realise their limitations nor understand the expanse of SYNERGY.
    HOW TO REPLACE?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • James Lee:

    Gullible policies implemented by those in power over the past decades have created now a substantial pool of retired senior SG voters living far below that poverty line. It’s time for those who controls Sg’s substantial wealth to
    seriously consider the immediate release of another lump sum drawdown of at least 20 percent by seniors above 70 year s of age from their CPF account. Act before it’s too late.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • James Lee:

    Trust is no longer an issue here for the simple reason that decades of gullible policies dished out by PAP Government which created unnecessary hardship for marginalized true blue Singaporeans have caused whatever trust that remain all but desipated.Any reach out by the PAP’s runners is just another PR exercise to applease the ones in power nothing more! It’s sad to see how SG has come to this stage where the divide between the SG haves and havenots has deteriorated beyond expectations.So sad!!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Leave a Reply

 characters available


Scroll Down For More Interesting Stuff


Member Services
Self-SupportMembers LoginSelf-Support
Sponsored Advertisement
Search On TR Emeritus
Sponsored Advertisement
Announcement
Advertisements
Visitors Statistic
Latest Statistic

UA-67043412-1