The game has yet to end and if RP and KennethJ manage to win West Coast GRC, the game will have taken yet another twist. And anyway, he deserves a few good dice throws. His luck has been bad recently. But so far the tale of KennethJ in politics is one that can be best described as “he-loo to ze-lo”.
After KennethJ seized control of RP from one of his father’s cronies, he was on a roll. He could explain economic issues in English that S’poreans could understand. He scored a public relations triumph when he came up with a document that explained what the RP was about. My friends in the WP and SDP were upset. They said they were saying these things long before KennethJ came on the scene. It didn’t help their tempers when I pointed out that they never put these things on a single sheet of paper, let alone a web page.
Thirdly, KennethJ managed to attract some pretty talented and passionate people to the party.
And the few PR missteps (like unnecessarily sliming the ex-RP chairman) didn’t seem important.
In an audacious move, he managed to persuade the Chiams that he was the one to lead the SDA in the coming GE. But unfortunately for him, the SDA was more than the Chiam’s SPP even though Chiam was the dominant figure in the SDA.
His reaction to the SDA rejection startled S’poreans. He lashed out at Mr Chiam, upsetting those S’poreans who respected Chiam. Fortunately for KennethJ, Chiam ignored the comments and soon KennethJ was talking to Chiam on the SPP and RP co-operating. Yet at the same time, he was threatening to contest a constituency that a SPP leader had staked out as his own. Where was his EQ?
And all was not well within RP and early this year, 20-over members resigned: about a quarter to a third of the RP’s membership. He handled the public relations fallout badly, and his image suffered a further dent, especially since they responded to his petulance in a most respectful manner.
But this loss didn’t deter him from saying the RP would contest three GRCs and at least three SMCs. This surprised those who know the logistics of fighting elections. Where was he going to get the candidates, money and activists especially after losing that many members?
Then another senior party member and candidate MP left. He left because he didn’t like KennethJ’s attempts at micromanaging the party.
Now we learn that RP will only contest the West Coast GRC. Its excuse that it was doing it for the “sake of Opposition unity”rings hollow because it had to borrow someone from Chiam’s SPP to make up the numbers.
The tale hopefully will take a more favourable turn for KennethJ (he deserves some good luck, Fate having given him some rotten dice throws recently) but so far we can draw some lessons. A double first from Cambridge, a respected father, the ability to explain economics in simple English, and hard work is not enough.
A final tot: Goh Keng Swee achieved greatness because he was willing to play the deputy to one LKY. Maybe KennethJ should reinvent himself as a gd number two bearing in mind that EQ is his strong point? Then the issue is whether he can find someone worthy and confident enough to have him as a “strategist”.