“I think the playing field is level, if you do your work on the ground consistently,” says the Deputy Prime Minister with the extensible Pinnochio nose. Explain that to Workers’ Party’s Yee Jenn Jong who literally walked the ground tirelessly for 4 years since the last General Election to recover from a narrow loss by 388 votes. If the dissolution of Joo Chiat is not a clear case of gerrymandering, what is?
The interesting aside to this is that Joo Chiat had always been a stronghold of Chan Soo Sen (GE2001: 83.5%, GE2006: 65%). Unfortunately his predilection for booze and karaoke was frowned upon by higher ups. They replaced him with Charles Chong for GE2011, the elitist who defended the $46,000 Le Cordon Bleu frolic of Permanent Secretary Tan Yong Soon with this:
“Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a little bit boastful. Would people have taken offence if his wife (a senior investment counsellor at a bank) had paid for everything?”
For mocking the peasants, Chong barely scraped through with 51% of the votes. Meanwhile Chan, always a popular fixture (still is) at clan gatherings in the district, would bitterly complain to anyone within hearing range about how “they” had to bring in three civil servants to do his job.
Decades ago, E.W Barker was well known for sneaking off to the bar at the snooty Singapore Cricket Club to wet his whistle. But that didn’t stop him from an illustrious career of 25 years in politics, serving as Minister for National Development (1965–75), Minister for Home Affairs (1972), Minister for the Environment (1975–79), Minister for Science and Technology (1977–81) and Minister for Labour (1983). Barker was a happy camper at law firms Braddell Brothers and Lee & Lee until the horrible person dragged him into parliament. Fortunately for him then, there was no sniffer dog with a sensitive nose for alcohol.
It remains to be seen how the 22,760 voters of Joo Chiat who were wiped off the electoral map to be absorbed ignominiously into the folds of Marine Parade will react. If they are bitter about being thwarted in their balloting intentions, the outcome can only be ugly. Gerrymandering can cut both ways.