You got to hand it to him: LHL is one shrewd PM.
The day the GE 2011 was over, he cut Raymond Lim and Mah Bow Tan, to satisfy those who bayed for blood in public transport and housing. He got Khaw to build more flats. He’s cutting the no of foreign workers. He overruled his Transport Minister and ordered a full Committee of Inquiry into the MRT breakdowns last year, so that the blame could be legitimately dished out. He’s got Gan Kim Yong to ‘review’ how much the Govt will fund healthcare, which basically means he wants Singaporeans to pay less. He even tripped over himself in trying to cut his own salary and that of his Ministers, almost immediately after the 2011 General Election.
And now, knowing that he blundered by holding back the Hougang by-election for so long, he’s called a snap by-election in Punggol East.
He realizes now he can’t avoid calling a by-election; politically, he’ll look like a coward. So instead of delaying the inevitable, he’s chosen to get it out of the way, as soon as possible.
He’s got it figured out. He’s got even chances in a one-on-one contest with WP, despite the AIM mess. And he’s got better than even chances if the other parties trip over themselves to join a multi-cornered fight. He doesn’t care if he scrapes by with 39.9% to win. Maybe he’ll even collect a few scalps to boot, as the other parties lose their electoral deposits in a free-for-all.
I only hope the other parties are smart enough to see through the PAP’s strategy.
Will they fall over themselves in an attempt to “test their brand”, engage in internecine warfare and have the privilege of losing $16,500 each? Will they unite behind a WP candidate?
It all depends on how stubborn some party leaders are, and how big their egos are.
We shall soon find out.