After the ferocious attacks launched by Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling, the political strength of PM Lee Hsien Loong has been severely affected. In order to shore up his political support, he has asked various cabinet ministers to stand up and speak for him publicly. They include the two DPMs, Teo Chee Hean and Tharman. Minister Shanmugam had got himself embroiled and so has Minister Lawrence Wong. Indranee Rajah got in on the act too, even former PM Goh Chok Tong, and the list goes on.
It is well-know that PAP has a rule that if they are defamed, they need to sue or leave the cabinet. But PM Lee is not suing, instead, he is waging his whole party in a show hand bet by having a parliament session to debate allegation of abuse of power by his brother. Understandably, it would be difficult to sue a family member, but PM Lee can’t stop those who think that a party and a country is bigger than his family. And since, his brother has started the attacks on PM Lee and essentially his cabinet ministers, these allegations must be dealt with swiftly and decisively.
The way PM Lee handles this crisis would make or break his leadership position within the PAP. If he doesn’t come out of this fight victorious, he might be forced into early retirement and an inexperienced team would have to takeover the helm in this current climate of global uncertainty. Those who have supported PM Lee would likely have to bow off the stage together with their leader. So it won’t be surprising if some party leaders would be careful and hedge carefully while keeping their silence.
But the real danger here to the PAP is one of uniting the whole party. Lee Hsien Yang might not be aiming to takeover the PAP but his attacks could possibly expose the differences within the party. Is the whole party solidly behind PM Lee? Or are they loyalists who blindly follow their master? Would they be able to recognise the point in time whereby their position is untenable and force a split within the party like what happened during pre-independence and Barisan Sosialis. If there is a split in the PAP, who would be the new leader of the party and would he have what it takes to navigate Singapore through the storms?
Teo Heng Wang