WP’s Eric Tan resigns ungraciously

Written by Ng E-Jay
14 May 2011

On Friday morning, the Worker’s Party (WP) officially announced that Yee Jenn Jong and Gerald Giam would be taking up the NCMP seats offered to the party.

However, East Coast team leader Eric Tan resigned from the party, saying that he felt “betrayed” by the decision. His abrupt departure was criticized widely in cyberspace on Friday, with many netizens saying that he had acted selfishly and had failed to put the interests of the party first.

Yee Jenn Jong had stood in Joo Chiat SMC and won 48.99% of the valid votes against PAP’s Charles Chong (the MP who made the famous “lesser mortals” remark in relation to the uproar over Tan Yong Soon’s $50,000 cooking course in France).

The WP East Coast team had also performed very impressively, scoring 45.17% of the valid vote against the PAP team helmed by Transport Minister Raymond Lim.

In a statement to the press released late Thursday night after the WP CEC had voted in favour of Gerald Giam taking up the NCMP post, Mr Eric Tan said that many supporters in East Coast had expressed the wish that he represent their views in Parliament.

Mr Tan said that he was disappointed that Low and the CEC had gone against the wishes of East Coast supporters, citing party renewal as their objective.

Mr Tan mentioned that he had helped build the East Coast team since its early days, and that “I too also believe in the renewal of the party but in an orderly manner, with succession plans, (but) not like this, dropped like a bomb on my lap“.

In an exclusive interview with Today late Thursday night, Mr Eric Tan added that he felt “betrayed”, and that:

“I have helped build the East Coast team since 2005 and was the only one remaining after the 2006 election. I fought on and rebuilt the team, helping to gain a solid result for the party … … I wanted the NCMP post so that I would be able to be the voice of the people.”

An ungracious exit

I can understand what Mr Eric Tan is going through. He has been a loyal WP member for many years and indeed, has put in tremendous effort in building WP’s East Coast Team. It is perfectly human to expect something in return for one’s efforts.

Mr Tan previously told the mainstream press that he would be taking up the NCMP post if the East Coast team did well enough to qualify. The decision to give Gerald Giam the post instead must have been a hard blow. Gerald Giam is a very promising candidate and is extremely articulate and mature in his views. Still, Gerald is a relative newcomer compared to Eric Tan who can count himself as a veteran by contrast.

That being said, Mr Tan’s abrupt departure from WP is ungracious. There are better ways he could have handled it. He could have graciously congratulated Gerald Giam for his accomplishment, and then quietly resigned from the party a few months later, citing “personal reasons”. This would minimize the bad publicity to himself and to WP.

Now, people are going to remember Mr Tan as someone who left WP in a huff, angry that he was not given the NCMP post he wanted. That is not a good legacy to leave behind. It is a rash and needless move. Mr Tan has painted himself as someone who puts self before party.

Mr Eric Tan could also have focussed on the bigger picture. He could have opted to remain behind to build the East Coast team even further and lead it into victory in 2016. Then he can possibly become a full-fledged MP and not just an NCMP. Mr Tan’s resignation betrays himself as an impatient man who has lost sight of the bigger picture. He is the perfect example of someone who has fallen for the NCMP trap.

Mr Low Thia Khiang will always choose people he can control well. That is something that is not likely to change. This is something Mr Tan should have learnt to live with. It demands humility, no doubt, but then again, as an opposition politician, Mr Tan should know that humility is a great virtue that voters will respect.

By leaving in a huff, Mr Tan has soured his own legacy and has poured cold water on WP, and in Gerald Giam in particular. Perhaps WP’s East Coast team really does need a new leader to take it to victory in 2016.

9 comments on WP’s Eric Tan resigns ungraciously

  1. It does appear to be rather unimpressive in the way he has carried himself.

    He could also have resigned citing retirement from politics. Through that way, Gerald Giam and the WP CEC would appear to be more of a villain as it is too fast after the election.

    It’s a tough, hard, macho world. Intense rivalry, huge egos. The unforgiving glare of 24-hour media coverage, job prospects decided by ballot box and secretary general’s favour.

  2. like the many websites have been saying – the power struggle and ego boasting amongst wp members have already started.

  3. Had WP declined, better still rejected the NCMP Offer,
    no internal fracas would have happened.

    WP seems to covet the NCMP Post contrary to Its’
    pre-election claim that the NCMP Scheme is not
    supported by the Party.

  4. E-Jay,
    your write up is devoid of the objective or balanced style you usually employ.

    it oozes a ‘I despise Eric Tan’ angle as well as an ‘out with the old and in with the new’ motto.

    you disregarded the position many feel that politics isn’t about how old you are, but what you can do. By dropping a dedicated candidate for a new comer, WP only advertizes its hunger for more MP seats the expedient way, instead of the right way.

  5. Since it was a CEC decision, Eric should abide by it. Besides that, Eric was supposedly the mentor to Gerald and to me, a mentor should feel proud that his protege is willing to step up to the plate, to face the incumbents in parliament.

    The least Eric could have done was to show some patience, give himself a bit more time to think things over before announcing his exit. There are many ways of departing and that to me was not examplary.

  6. One’s initial reaction was that Eric was hard done by. However, when you see Eric’s reaction, you have to say that WP’s CEC made the right decision. In any case, CNA reported at its 10am news that WP’s CEC was still brainstorming at that late hour over the NCMP. THis shows that it was a very difficult and tough decision for them but they had to make the call.
    At the end of the day, WP and Low has come across as a party who made difficult decisions like the one to contest Aljunied GRC and it turned out well. So, these guys know what they are doing.

  7. i fully concur that Eric Tan could have fallen into the NCMP trap.
    But, likewise; so did Gerald Giam. It has been rumoured that he has been canvassing for the NCMP seat himself.

    Being less experienced and a greenhorn in the WP, Gerald should instead give deference to his mentor, Eric Tan who had taken him “under his wings”, nurtured him during his sojourn in the EAC.

    Unsurprisingly, being an active blogger, Gerald has the support of his fellow bloggers. Many want him to be in parliament even though it is merely via NCMP. Similarly,
    they themselves have fallen into the NCMP trap too.

  8. It’s hard for someone who fought hard for two elections as Team Leader to be deprived of his chance to be NCMP when the opportunity opened up. He had the highest priority out of the East Coast team yet the opportunity was given to a newbie who could afford to wait. With the resignation of team member Mohammad Fazli and the transfer of Png Eng Huat to Hougang, the new NCMP could build a new team with Glenda Han but it is going to be an uphill battle against two Ministers in the GRC. Last time voters in Aljunied chose to have voice in the parliament against 4 ministers / minister-to-be. Would the voters in East Coast do likewise for an NCMP against 2 ministers next election given the fact that there are already other voices in parliament? I feel it is unlikely. Also the East Coast team may lose their NCMP as it is highly likely that they would perform not as well as their Joo Chiat and Potong Pasir counterparts and finish outside the top 9 performing Oppositions candidates. The odds would be more favourable if CEC had not been in a hurry to inject new blood and waited for at least 1 minister to retire as there would be no way to win otherwise based on my analysis of what it took CST and JB Jayaratnam to win enough votes from native Singaporeans to get into parliament as full MP.

Comments are closed.