George Yeo soon to be jobless?

Posted on 29 April 2011

Foreign Minister George Yeo spotted lurking at Hougang Mall before and during Worker’s Party Rally.

By Fang Shihan

Foreign Minister George Yeo makes up for lost time

IT MUST be tough being the incumbent that’s facing an opposition team at their maximum strength. Spotted doing his walkabout at Hougang Mall just an hour before the Worker’s Party’s first rally on Thursday was about to begin, George Yeo looked like a… pretty busy man.

Shaking hands, taking pictures with his entourage of Aljunied GRC grassroots leaders, he seemed eager to touch (literally) as many people as he could within the 9-day campaigning window. More pictures can be found on his facebook page.

If that’s not enough, he even proceeds to campaign inside Hougang Mall, greeting the sales assistants at the Giordano store and moving up each level methodologically. Maybe it was out of pity that the mall security let this pass (shopping malls have never been amenable to political campaigning), or maybe there are different rules for politicians clad in white.

The question is: why Hougang Mall of all places? And right before the rally too. Well, he could be on a pre-emptive search for a new job, or this could be an attempt to inform opposition supporters that a heavyweight was still around, or maybe he was hoping to draw the 10,000 strong crowd away from the rally 5 minutes away.

Didn’t happen.

George Yeo walks around Hougang Mall

Foreign Minister George Yeo, head of the diplomatic strategy of Singapore, who shakes hands with dictators nearly on a daily basis to persuade them to kill less civilians, who went for a jog with the residents at Bedok only a few hours after flying back to Singapore from a diplomatic mission, who was the first minister in 2006 to tell the rest that attacking James Gomez for forgetting a form..was lame, THAT George Yeo was largely ignored in favour of a Worker’s Party rally where the stars were clearly still Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim and god himself, Chen Show Mao.
He is up for a tough fight – one almost feels sorry for him. One of our best ministers, and a really nice guy too (he actually bothers to engage people on Facebook), he will not be voted out because of incompetency.

Over 9000 but not a 5-digit figure. Seriously guys, it was only day 1.

If he does lose his seat, it will not only be because the WP owned his ass. If he loses, he has the GRC system to blame. Designed on the pretext of securing minority representation and even harnessing economies of scale, the GRC system divides the heavyweights into different teams.

One minister per team is the norm, two if there are too many and fillers occupy the rest of the spaces. GRCs were designed with the assumption that a minister would never be beaten by anyone from the opposition, thereby shielding the younger and weaker candidates from the brutal glare of public scrutiny.

And so if the opposition were to want a GRC badly enough, “a minister has to fall in the process“. This was an observation made by National Solidarity Party Sec-Gen Goh Meng Seng just last year.

Don't forget your plastic Thor and balloon hammers.

But is he truly in any danger of losing his ministerial position? This is a man with sterling credentials and a stunning portfolio of running the well oiled Foreign Ministry. If anything, it is Wong Kan Seng of Bishan-Toa Payoh and Mah Bow Tan of Tampines who should be sweating in their expensive suits now. The PAP is a victim of its own electoral maneuvering. Our government is now in serious danger of losing a good minister, while the others should be able to be re-elected with less anxiety.

This is not to say George Yeo is indispensable. He may have been a Cambridge graduate, a Brigadier-General in the SAF, and he may have been an excellent minister for 23 years. But the Chen Show Mao of the Worker’s Party has studied at Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, brokered an IPO for the Agricultural Bank of China (3rd largest lender in that very very big country) that raised $19 billion, and speaks Malay, English, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Everyone's trying to get that aerial shot.

Even if Chen Show Mao were to become an MP, he’d still be taking a very big pay cut. This is the sort of guy that the PAP uses to defend its GRC system and the Ministerial pay. Without the help of heavyweights and a ‘competitive’ paycheck, qualified candidates would never bother joining politics.

Well, the PAP has been proven wrong. This is a man of ministerial quality. Seriously, given he heads a multinational law firm in China, he’d be excellent for Sino-Singapore economic ties. Which is what the PAP always wanted.

Ideally, GE2011 should see incompetent ministers being voted out, and opposition members being voted in based on their capability to lead the country. Ideally, if we were actually a more representative democracy. Instead, we’ll see young, eager ministers like Teo Ser Luck trying his best to rally a crowd while Teo Chee Hean and the rest take a free-ride (warning: very painful to watch), we might lose George Yeo, and we’ll probably see Wong and Mah being rotated around with different portfolios for another 5 years. And don’t get me started on Tin Pei Ling.

A minister has to fall in the process of change. But is it fair? Even if we don’t see a dramatic increase in the number of opposition-held seats this time, it’s time for the PAP to reflect on their home-made model of formal democracy. This will be a very very painful ride.

In the meantime, Lucas Chow of Mediacorp will be leaving his seat soon and the Presidential elections are due sometime later this year.

Hint to George:  Jobs are still available. :)

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  • Overseas Voter

    You’re mistaken if you think he’s one of our best ministers. George Yeo is wooden and arrogant. Take it from overseas Singaporeans, our foreign policy is in dire need of change. Nobody likes us. Our neighbours especially cannot stand us. The era of just signing free trade agreements is over. We need a foreign policy that wins the hearts and minds of our neighbours. We need their goodwill to survive. Fact. And don’t feel too sorry for him if he’s shipped out. He’s super duper loaded.

  • Wilfred Ling

    I hope GRC will be scrap after the election. It does not promote democracy at all. Good people can kick out and lousy ones get in.

    • Something to consider

      Everyone hopes that this will happen. I think, though, that either GRCs will all be 5 or 6-man or, in the case of an Aljunied victory by the opposition, GRCs reconfigured to be 4 or 5-man.

    • Cynthia

      I fully agreed with you and support you

  • Belmont

    Oh my Mao! Major bloodletting expected at Aljunied!

  • Monet

    I don’t think it’s fair of you to say that George Yeo is a bad minister without supported evidence. Pls provide some to validate your stance. Truth is, parliament without Low or George will be strange. But losing a decisive cabinet minister, resilient (not wooden)in diplomatic relations is just very sad. Also, we stand to lose our first female cabinet minister in Lim.

    • seriously?

      i am not sure if these sources are accurate in their representation however i feel that a foreign minister should be more careful of what words he choose to speak especially which words he chooses to represent his points.

      for any other minister in the government, what he or she said wrongly can incur the wrath of the citizen. But a minister for foreign affairs words can bring about much displeasure to other countries since they look to him as a representation of the Singapore government. I believe i don’t need to explain how the Wikileaks have inconvenienced many countries including ourselves. the repercussion of these action and words cannot be measured until one fine day something catastrophic happens when diplomacy fails and it will be too late for us to wonder what is the trigger point.

      he can be a nice guy or any other good points you would like to say about him. i may never know the kind of things that was done behind the back since it is diplomacy, things can get pretty complicated and i do not wish to know. however if this is the news i am getting about him, that will be the impression i have of him until i am corrected by someone else, which so far, my queries are still unanswered.

  • Dannon

    quick give an update on the serangoon rally!

  • Ivan

    There’s nothing strange about parliament without Low, George or Lim Hwee Hwa. Parliament is not their house. It is the people’s house. The people decide. Nobody owes them a living especially a lot of our MPs who don’t really have a mandate because of our political system. The entitlement syndrome and propaganda have been fed to us for so long that people find it strange to have a Parliament without them.

    • Belmont Lay

      Ivan, I like! *click Like*

  • twasher

    If the PAP can’t find a competent replacement for George Yeo from their 80+ MPs, that belies all their claims for having a good mechanism for finding talent.

    • Something to consider

      I thought they got Raymond Lim, Teo Ser Luck and so on…

  • 23princessroad

    In other democracies, ‘ministerial’ material are constantly in govt or out, depending on how each election goes. Since George is one of PAP’s much-justified million-dollar ministers, I’m sure he’ll fine an equally well-paying job in the private sector if need be.

  • Abolish GRCs

    Somebody should setup a facebook grouping, title “Abolish GRCs!”

  • Abolish GRCs

    Sorry, Kenneth Jeyaretnam has already set up a facebook grouping.


  • Matt

    Is George Yeo really that good?

    George Yeo proposed the casino in 2004.

    See this, for example:
    (1) http://www

    (2) http://www

    Background on the Integrated Resorts

    On 18 April 2005, Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, announced the cabinet’s decision to develop two casinos and associated hotels and malls in Marina South and Sentosa. The idea had been originally mooted a year before when the then Minister for Tarde and Industry BG George Yeo announced that the Singapore Government may consider casino gaming in Singapore.

    (3) Below from ST

    Prime News
    Mega boost likely: George Yeo
    306 words
    15 April 2005
    Straits Times
    (c) 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Limited
    A CASINO could provide a mega-boost to the economy, Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo said last night.
    But, whatever the decision, no effort will be spared to minimise the social costs of gambling here, he added.
    He was commenting on a survey which indicated that one in every 50 adult Singaporeans risked becoming problem gamblers.
    Mr Yeo, as then-Trade and Industry Minister, first broached the casino idea in Parliament during the Budget debate last year.
    Explaining the rationale for the proposal, he said last night: ‘We are talking about millions of dollars’ worth of investment, thousands of jobs and the possibility of increasing annual tourism inflow into Singapore by hundreds of thousands a year.’
    He gave his comments to reporters at the launch of a poll for a Housing Board upgrading programme in Bedok. He was not surprised by survey results indicating that some 55,000 adult Singaporeans could become addicts.
    ‘We know there are always problem cases that can lead to occasional family tragedies, whether or not there’s a casino.’
    People could, for instance, be addicted to horse-racing. ‘So whether or not we proceed with this integrated resort, we should make sure we find ways to minimise the social costs.’
    Measures could include barring those on public assistance schemes from a casino. Family members could also be empowered to prevent those with a gambling problem from entering casinos.
    Still, admission procedures should be simple: ‘We should also not make it so complicated that we create a bureaucracy to monitor who can enter the casino.’
    As for his personal stand, he said: ‘The Cabinet has taken a decision, so we will go by the collective decision.
    ‘Of course, I announced it a year ago in Parliament… and the economic benefits are not trivial.’

  • singapore chilli crab

    People deserve who they vote for. A Minister like George Yeo is rare and if you don’t recognise his worth you don’t deserve him . He has an awesome local and international standing and is much respected.

    • Singapore Chilli Padi

      People do indeed deserve who they vote for. That’s why we have the government that we do and a one-party state. George Yeo is so rare and clever that he names an orchid after Myanmar’s general. Awesome dude. He definitely got the world’s attention.

      • Something to consider

        This is why he got voted out – sad for advocates for an united ASEAN.

      • plainjon

        Naming an orchid after Myanmar’s general? What a clever idea? Getting a warring general intent on beating Buddhist monks, Karens, Shans, Mons, Kachins, Chins, Rohingyas & other minorities to be more interested in horticulture. BG Yeo shows the world how to get that general’s attention! Or perhaps he should have encouraged that general’s warring instincts with a gift of ST Kinetics’ Pegasus (world’s first heli-portable 155mm 39 calibre and self-propelled howitzer)?

    • georgesupporter

      I agree with sg chilli crab. some suggested “george for president”, can-also-lah….but may be a waste of his capabilities.

    • plainjon

      I agree with you. In fact, I feel the country should tap his many talents and
      his experience in the arts and foreign relations and make him an ambassador. Remember the late David Marshall? Remember Jimmy Carter who lost the U.S. Presidential elections to Ronald Reagan in the early eighties but went on to make his mark on the world stage as a peace-maker, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002?

      There has been much talk of first-world government, first-world parliament, first-world opposition, but not really much first-world values in action. BG George Yeo and his team evinced these values in the graciousness of their defeat and even wish their victors well. To his credit, PM Lee Hsien Loon also congratulated Workers Party on their victory. This quality seems to be notably absent amongst politicians from all political parties in Singapore. Still a long way to go before we call ourselves first-world this and that.

      Anyway, gentlemen always lose in politics in Singapore – witness the political fates of BG George Yeo and Chiam See Tong

      • plainjon

        Sorry – misspelt PM’s name : there should have been a ‘g’ at the end of ‘Loon..”

  • sh

    Vote George Yeo for President!

    Or if you’ve got any other jobs for him, plonk it in here:

    • Eu En

      How about special envoy to Siberia?

  • Berlin Wall

    George Yeo shud be made head of..i really don’t know. known for efforts to raise funds to display old berlin wall in erh…singapore. get real and have both ur feet on the ground before u fancy having a go in public administration, georgie. farewell..just dont look bck, n forget abt any biography, totally.

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  • plainjon

    Did a bit of thinking – BG George Yeo may make a good university professor – very current, knowledgeable and IT-savvy and able to network with undergraduates.

    Of course, China may very well be eyeing him this very moment for a consultancy job on ASEAN affairs – and prepared to pay big bucks for him!

    He is very original and creative and will soon come up with many options for himself – if he can get over this disappointment.

  • Ethan

    He has already set his mind on retirement, so let him be. He can now enjoy his $2m annual pension and benefits.

  • Something to consider

    Mr Yeo has to live within his constraints, including the need for an united ASEAN fraught with different political systems and beliefs

  • SL

    But i pray George Yeo dun go for Presidency election, Tolong tolong tolong, go and retired and stop your whining!!!