Virtue signalling has (very nearly) sunk the Workers’ Party
A relatively minor affair turned into a career-ender not only for Raeesah Khan but for WP’s entire leadership.
So far I have not commented on Raeesah Khan's recent resignation as, frankly speaking, I didn't think it was all that important. It was just a logical conclusion to the recent scandal, which - ultimately - would not change many minds about Singapore's politics.
PAP voters would celebrate, of course, while WP's supporters would hail it as cleansing the ranks and a closure to the affair, with a de facto dismissal of its weakest link. It could even be spun to make the opposition look good and responsible.
However, within the evening hours of yesterday the situation has taken a turn by 180 degrees, with the release of the special report from the Committee of Privileges, containing the findings i.a. from the hearing involving Raeesah Khan herself (excerpts of which you can find below).
For the full document head over here: https://sprs.parl.gov.sg/selectcommittee/selectcommittee/download?id=435&type=report
As it turned out, not only have the party's leaders known that her accusations against SPF were false - they actively coached her to lie on subsequent occasions in the parliament. And when that got her cornered (since seasoned politicians she was left to answer to were quick to catch on the false story), they left her out in the cold, hoping she could be sacrificed to make the case go away.
What I find the most interesting is how a relatively minor affair (at least by global standards) of a young, inexperienced and inept MP making up a story so she could take a moral high ground on the topic of sexual abuse, snowballed into a scandal that could sink the entire party.
What is doubly ironic that all of it is rooted in politicking through virtue signalling for the public.
This is why I have a deep distrust of career politicians who have limited executive experience, because their entire lives are revolving around appearances and how they present themselves - what, in this case, has shown how badly they can misjudge and mishandle even a relatively limited crisis.
Let's be clear - the first pebbles that led to this avalanche (that's about to take a few political lives with itself) did not fall with Raeesah Khan's accusations about the SPF but with the ideological shift on the political left in Singapore in the past few years.
As the society kept growing more prosperous, the natural blue-collar electorate of the party of "workers" has shrunk.
Like elsewhere in the world, it is gradually being replenished with the inflow of the younger middle class, which no longer has burning material needs and derives a sense of higher self-worth through outwards display of morally superior beliefs.
It has therefore become politically expedient to field fresh, young faces in the elections, who could appeal to these sentiments.
Among them was Raeesah Khan, who - as I reported last year - glorified in her social media posts a Soviet Union decorated American feminist Angela Davis and imported (wholesale) the lingo of Western culture wars, categorizing people in racial silos by skin colour, accusing majority of some inherent privilege and even suggesting bias of the local judiciary.
In other words, the party felt it was beneficial to ride the stream of virtue signalling in the society by fielding a young, virtue signalling candidate and then her virtue signalling in the parliament (where the rules are far more stringent than on Twitter or Facebook) triggered a chain of events that laid bare their entire empty strategy and how the leadership was intent on having her keep lying, hoping it will all blow over.
I'm pretty sure that if this was a GE year, WP would suffer terrible losses as a result and - given how short its bench is - could very well break up and sink.
As it is, with the next election good four years away, they're probably going to survive by the skin of their teeth as people's memories tend to be short and when it's time to cast ballots again few will even remember who Raeesah Khan is and what the fuss was all about.
Still, it is heartening to see how quickly the empty feel-good slogans have gone bankrupt in Singapore - as it can only help its political standards in the long run.