Masterstroke by the Workers Party? EPIC Fail More Like It.

8 days

Following the live televised debate with the highly experienced and politically savvy Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Jamus Jerome Lim turned out to be a revelation for the Workers Party and immediately took on the mantle of being “Most Popular Opposition candidate” of GE2020.

His comments on GST hike spawned memes that subsequently went viral with netizens calling him “the next Finance Minister”.

Unfortunately for Jamus, his running mates in the battle for Sengkang GRC includes a somewhat naïve 26-year old who allegedly posted racially and religiously insensitive comments. Police reports were made, and the candidate has had to issue a public apology, with the party backing her fully for her “passion”.

The “JJ Lin” factor, as many netizens were already calling him, would have made Sengkang a really tough fight for the incumbent party but this incident throws up some questions about the calibre of some of the challengers.

To avoid “character assassination”, I shall not dwell too much on the quality of this particular candidate, but in all fairness, the recruitment criteria and process leaves a lot to be desired. Afterall, the PAP had its fair share of criticism for introducing a candidate who since pulled out of the race, so the Workers Party must face up to any public scrutiny as well.

The scary thought is that amongst many young people, they vehemently defend the comments made by the individual in question. Scary because they think it’s ok to speak like an Amos Yee. If irresponsible statements can be tolerated, we will be walking down a dark and fearsome path if such a candidate ever makes it to parliament.

Kudos to the Workers Party for standing by this candidate, who humbly made an apology. Not doubting her sincerity, but it was only after police reports were lodged, and not before.  To be magnanimous,  she’s only human. But wait, aren’t PAP ministers and MPs also human?

In any case, this is just a distraction and perhaps some entertainment in this general election that is devoid of the exciting atmosphere of live political rallies.

I wonder how much foresight the Workers Party actually possesses. Did they not know that in Jamus Lim, they had a star candidate who could probably win a single member constituency on his own? Why didn’t they field him in Hougang? Granted this could be Dennis Tan’s “reward” for sticking with the blue shirts since the last GE, and since Png Eng Huat has decided to retire, let the more experienced member have a go at it.

Or instead of trying to win a whole GRC, would he have stood a better chance against the all whites’ Sun Xueling?

Whatever their reasons, we will only know in the late hours of 10th July. At the moment, it does seem like a poor strategy of not playing your strongest card to up your chances, and potentially be pulled down by a weak link. But maybe they simply didn’t know they had such a potential star in their midst, which begs even more questions about their foresight.

One of the key themes of GE2020 is about the future of Singapore. Unfortunately a lack of visionary capabilities doesn’t seem to help their cause.

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