On Pritam Singh, playing victim and absence of shame in the Raeesah saga

WP, leaders, opposition, shame, democracy, integrity, lack, lie, play

You know what’s the saddest thing about this whole saga of ‘lies upon lies’? It is the total absence of shame.

Up till now, there is a complete lack of admission of wrongdoing by the three WP MPs and leaders, Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap. There is absolutely no contrition.

It isn’t just the three WP leaders who have demonstrated a lack of shame. The rest of the Workers’ Party (WP) have decided to close ranks and play victim, insinuating political persecution, and trying to obfuscate the matter by talking about democracy under attack, and playing on the fear that there would be no more left in Parliament. These are self-serving manipulative moves. Former NCMP Yee Jenn Jong went a step further, ranting that the COP hearings and recommendations are the ‘high-handed tactics’ of the to ‘stay in power’.

It is clear as daylight that Raeesah lied. It is also clear that the 3 WP leaders played a role in allowing the lie to persist for almost 3 months and then tried to cover up the role they played when it became clear that the matter could not be buried as they hoped.

The COP had the unenviable task of dealing with the (more serious) misconduct of the three WP leaders.

Referring them to another COP hearing is a poor option as it is unlikely to yield any new evidence. If Parliament were to mete out the penalties to the 3 WP leaders, the action will be politicised by WP and their supporters. The will be accused of using their majority to persecute the opposition. Therefore, referring Mr Singh and Mr Faisal to the Public Prosecutor is the best option, especially since a crime appears to have been committed. It’s a decision the WP should welcome as their leaders will have the full opportunity to defend themselves in Parliament with legal counsel and evidence. There is no fear if there is no wrongdoing.

We all want an opposition, but we do not want an opposition ‘at all costs’. If having an comes at a cost to honesty and integrity, the ultimate price is Singapore.

Since 2011, the WP has gone from one lie to another, starting with the town council sage, and each time, they have played the card of political persecution. Through it all and up till today, they have not once admitted liability or express any shame or contrition.

If lack of shame becomes the public norm, where will it lead us? Our political system will start to break down. The process will be irreversible. Who then can we trust? A democracy that is not built on integrity stands on shaky ground. All the sound and fury of contestation and will do nothing good for the country if you cannot the words of politicians.

‘Shame’ is a moral disposition. It is a reaction to wrongdoing. It comes from our own sense of right and wrong. It comes from our values, our own conscience, as PM Lee said in Parliament.

"Absent that sense of shame, people may comply with laws for fear of punishment, but they will lack the moral compass to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, and to take responsibility when they have fallen short of the standards expected of them,"

PM Lee added.

With more than 10 political parties, there is no lack of in Singapore. At each election since 2015, every seat is contested. No government is formed until after the elections are over. The contestation has grown. Democracy will not take a step back if Mr Singh and his fellow colleagues lose their seats. But democracy will take more than a step back if it is not undergirded by honesty and integrity.

Democracy is strengthened by strengthening the fundamentals of honesty and integrity. This requires that the integrity of every politician be scrutinised and dubious men and rejected.

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