So what’s new? Bertha Henson calls him a “dark horse” but current Finance Minister Mr Lawrence Wong is quite likely to be our next PM. Oh, let me get the terms right. Mr Lawrence Wong’s colleagues have chosen him to be the leader of the 4G team. That merely puts him one step closer to being the next PM than folks like Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung. There remains an iota of uncertainty. At the moment, PM Lee is yet to set a timeline for Mr Wong to take over. Of course, anything can happen at East Coast GRC unless Mr Wong takes office before the next GE.
Mr Lawrence Wong’s Chinese name is 黄循财. 财 means wealth and 循 as in 循规蹈矩 – well-behaved, faithfully abiding by all the rules. Of course, we can’t judge a person’s character from his name, but in this case, we can expect more or less of the same old stuff despite the change of leadership. 黄循财 – 循规蹈矩，闷声发大财。For the uninitiated, 闷声发大财 is a phrase coined by former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. Literally, it means “shut up and get rich”. The “shut up” refers to moral and political ideologies/correctness. In others words, be an economic animal and a political vegetable.
Today newsPAPer reported that “Those interviewed described Mr Wong as a humble person who has never sought the limelight. One cadre who has been with the party for two decades said: “He was not interested in the (Prime Minister) post and there was not much limelight shone onto him. But after the virus hit, that’s when people started to notice him.”
Yao mo gao chor ah? Where was this guy when Lawrence Wong dropped the HDB ultimate zero value bombshell? This is what I give Mr Wong the biggest credit for. I liked him for his honesty even though ironically, the PAP’s grip on power really hinges on the people’s fear of their properties losing value. He almost did an Ong Teng Cheong there. Mr Wong’s handling of this pandemic, while competent, has not been exceptionally brilliant.
Anyway, PM Lee has made it clear that he is not handing over the premiership just yet, but unless there’s going to be a risky battle at East Coast, the handing over should take place before the next GE. Interestingly, Mr Lawrence Wong said that he does not feel the pressure of being the next PM due to the fact that he was not a unanimous choice among his colleagues to be their leader. Why did he say that? Because, if he messes up, at least he won’t disappoint everybody?
The following opinion I found on Facebook pretty much sums up what those who are not fans of the party think. While most of us are not against Lawrence Wong being the new PM, we are also not optimistic that he can improve the lives of the average folks who don’t own a string of properties like you and me.
Such pessimism is not unwarranted. Those of us who have been around long enough remember Mr Goh Chok Tong’s “open and consultative” government and the “Swiss standard of living”. Mr Lee Hsien Loong gave civil servants a longer weekend, but our xinyao-singing PM is also capable for suing people for merely sharing posts. At the end of the day, it’s not so much about sharing posts (many others had done the that without facing the same consequences) but about being a thorn in the side by uncovering and interpreting numbers in a way that puts our government in a less than flattering light. They failed to practise 循规蹈矩，闷声发大财.
It may surprise some folks who dwell on dissenting voices, but if you bother to look, even on the slightly more level playing field of social media, the average number of likes that most opposition party members get still pale beside that of the PAP. Are aggressive sledgehammer tactics on any opposition warranted? They may not have invented kiasuism, but they definitely practise it to a tee.
The ability of dissidents like Roy Ngerng and Leong Sze Hian to crowdfund the damages awarded to our PM may be an indicator of indignation towards authoritarianism, but it is definitely not an indicator of people voting against the government. Pulling these heroes from the edge of bankruptcy is quite inconsequential to the government’s grip on power. Someone who has donated money to these two heroes may still vote for the PAP. That’s why the positive results of Roy and Mr Leong’s crowdfunding campaigns have never raised my hopes for a more meaningful, democratic Parliament. If Mr Lawrence Wong could do an Ong Teng Cheong, the party would have given him the boot a long time ago. I actually feared for his political future after that statement on HDB. Fortunately, he survived, only to go to town with “damage control”.
The SDP wrote a rather long post on FB congratulating Mr Wong and yet expressing its doubts. You can go check it out on their Facebook page. The key statement from the SDP? “Decades of groupthink and conformity has [sic] made PAP leaders unable to see that Singapore is in dire need of reform of its economic, social and political systems.”
Of course, not everyone is so friendly. Some have even threatened to pull an “East Coast Plan” on Mr Wong, but will we even have a chance? Taking the baton before the next GE gives him the opportunity to prove himself, but of course that can cut both ways. They could also put him at East Coast for the the next GE, but what will the voters there think this time round? The thing is, I don’t think it really matters who our next PM is. It’s going to be the same approach and those who want change will remain the minority. The majority of Singaporeans will still think that the boat should not be rocked lest they lose the value of their properties. 循规蹈矩，闷声发大财.
Of course, it’s still early days. We can be optimistic, we can be pessimistic and our beloved PM could be promoted to a very active “senior minister” even after Mr Lawrence Wong officially takes over. Only time will tell.