In 2011, out of the blue came this professor standing on the SDP stage to speak to the crowd at Raffles Place. Everyone was wondering where he came from. Today, in the same spot, in the same SDP stage, Paul Tambyah has returned, this time as a SDP candidate standing for the Holland Bukit Timah GRC with Chee Soon Juan, another come back boy.
Paul Tambyah has awed the crowd by his humility and sincerity, the professor with the common man demeanour, with no airs and talking sense. Many see this professor as the best thing to happen for this GE and have high praises and good words for him. They are calling for the voters to send this man to Parliament on 11 Sep together with his SDP team mates.
Paul Tambyah’s speech was impressive, no vitriol, no personal attacks but dealing with the policies and the good of Singaporeans. He also praised Tharman and a few of the PAP candidates for addressing issues and policies and not reverting to gutter politics of yesteryears. He also shared with the crowd a private aspiration in the opposition camp that they secretly hoped for Tharman to fall out with Hsien Loong and come out to lead a coalition like the Pakatan Rakyat of Malaysia.
Many Singaporeans have been hopeful for a split within the PAP led by Chok Tong. But that is looking far more remote with Chok Tong’s star fading with age, though not entirely impossible. A break away Tharman is a more promising alternative given the fact that everyone perceived him to be the better man for the PM job. And Tharman himself must also agree in confidence that this is indeed the truth. And if only he has the ambition or aspiration to be the PM one day, it is a matter of time before he makes his move. If Hsien Loong fares badly in the GE, if he survives and not be voted out outright, Tharman could pose a challenge to his weaken leadership. It would then be a case of either Hsien Loong goes or Tharman leaves, to lead a coalition of the opposition camp, and be the PM in the shadow cabinet.
The big question, does Tharman has the ambition or aspiration? In an interview at the SG50 Celebration forum, Tharman was posed the same question of his intent to be the PM by Fareed Zakaria. He tried to evade the question and did not want to say No to the prospect. He was finally cornered and had to say yes if called upon.
Being the best man in all aspects, it is very difficult to hold down such a good man from his rightful place. Tharman is not the Duke of Zhou who voluntarily abdicated to give way to his sibling to be the King of Zhou Dynasty. Tharman must be bidding his time and this GE will be the opportune moment to force him to make his move, either became the PM within PAP or outside PAP in a coalition.
In a hypothetical scenario, if the opposition camp could win 30 seats, Tharman only needs to convince 20 PAP MPs to join him in a walk out to form a coalition govt and be the PM designate. If the law does not allow this to happen, a new GE would have to be called with a Singapore Pakatan Rakyat headed by Tharman leading the coalition. This scenario may look far fetch at the moment but in politics, without LKY around, the ball is round.