Tag Archive | "Goh Chok Tong"

S’poreans assure Goh Chok Tong: ‘We’ll keep Workers’ Party’s arrogance in check, make them humbly beat you with 51% of votes only’

S’poreans assure Goh Chok Tong: ‘We’ll keep Workers’ Party’s arrogance in check, make them humbly beat you with 51% of votes only’

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WP won’t win by a landslide margin this general election, Singaporeans reassure Goh.

Photo stolen from here

Photo stolen from here

Singaporeans from all walks of life who like to eat humble pie have come out to address Goh Chok Tong.

This after Goh made some comments about Workers’ Party during the PAP’s introduction of candidates for Marine Parade GRC.

Referring to WP, he said: “They are stronger than the National Solidarity Party but they have a certain arrogance. Will that same arrogance be able to replace me and my team?”

Singaporeans who heard this have come out to reassure Goh, saying that they will help keep WP’s arrogance in check.

One Singaporean, Bu Hao Lian, who likes to reflect on his meekness, said: “As voters, it is our duty to keep the Workers’ Party’s arrogance in check. That is why we will make sure the WP will only be able to humbly beat Goh Chok Tong’s Marine Parade GRC PAP team by winning 51 percent of the votes only.”

“We would like to give the PAP our assurance that as voters, we will make sure the Workers’ Party will not win 70 or 80 percent of the votes as this will inevitably send the signal that the WP can be proud of their achievement.”

At press time, Singaporeans are also assuring Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Tanjong Pagar GRC candidate Chan Chun Sing that they will help keep the PAP arrogance in check by making sure they win with 51 percent as well.

 

 

 

 

 











Lee Kuan Yew: Not easily ditched

Lee Kuan Yew: Not easily ditched

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As much as The Cabinet wants to maintain a distance, His Leeness could still spring a surprise at an inopportune moment.

By Belmont Lay

It's about time for His Leeness to leave The Cabinet.

SO, what does it REALLY mean for His Leeness and SM Goh Chok Tong to leave The Cabinet?

Honestly, I don’t know and I won’t pretend like I do.

But I’m game enough to hazard a guess.

And truth be told, anyone’s guess is just as good because quite apparently, no one knows what on Earth stepping down entails (because it has never happened before, and hence, shows you the extent of the problem in the first place), although it is driving everyone into a tizzy.

But before we move on with the topic, let’s do everyone a favour and recap who said what.

First in line, Chiam See Tong (bless his soul) claims to be “surprised”. So, he doesn’t exactly know what happens next but his sentiment is shared by 2 million other Singaporeans.

Just so he is famous, his natural reaction becomes news. But that’s ok.

Nothing new here.

Moving along, PAP’s Halimah Yacob says that Singapore is ready to surge ahead without the two ex-Prime Ministers.

Ok, sounds about right, because maybe she knows something we don’t.

Then again, not. This sentiment is probably shared by one million other Singaporeans, especially those who have felt this way since 1959 and who have voted for the Opposition for as long as there were elections (or opposition candidates).

Nothing new here either. So maybe we should check up on the younger folks from the incumbent.

In the all-white corner, Baey Yam Keng feels that rookie MPs like him will finally get a chance to speak out against policies that were implemented during the two ex-rulers’ regime.

Because since they are now gone from The Cabinet, His Leeness and Goh can’t give him a tongue-lashing of a rebuttal.

But sadly, no one agrees with him on this one because everyone knows that wearing all-white means there can be no disagreement.

Because if you were to ask all the PAP MPs if there is groupthink, they will all say “No!” – in unison.

Therefore, never mind that Baey is in the business of public relations. And never mind about the groupthink. And never mind about the irony.

We have the son of a firebrand calling his bluff: Kenneth Jeyaratnam thinks stepping down now is a public relations exercise and all hogwash.

And this view is probably only shared by one thousand other Singaporeans – those who still believe that Kenneth is channeling Joshua Benjamin, his father.

So never mind Kenneth too, because we need someone astute who can give us something piercingly insightful.

And on comes Dr Vincent Wijeysingha (who is awesome) as he welcomes the news of the retirement from The Cabinet as long as such steps to relinquish power is not cosmetic and more widespread, especially in government-linked sectors.

His thinking is so brilliant and so far ahead, I actually thought it is the most enlightening thought of all.

And his running mate, Tan Jee Say, even suggested calling for by-elections in Tanjong Pagar and Marine Parade GRC, because voters voted PAP on the assumption that His Leeness and SM Goh will live as long as there is a Singapore left to serve the constiuents.

Amen.

Finally, there is even a bear that reckons stepping down is really all arsed.

He can be inside or outside The Cabinet, it doesn’t really matter. His Leeness can easily ditch the title and the salary. But can The Cabinet easily ditch him?

So, to re-iterate, what can any sane Singaporean with an average IQ, take away from all these?

As you can tell by now, the answer is nowhere in between: It is all over the place.

But, well, one can always take a cue from the most quotable quote that sears right into the brain without having to exercise any critical faculties.

We shall bring on Halimah Yacob again.

The Jurong GRC MP said it best with her description of His Leeness: “Singapore is Him and He is Singapore.”

Wow.

Even though I’m here pulling faces, I kind of feel that she might just be right.

His Leeness might have been taken out of The Cabinet. But surely, there is no way The Cabinet can be taken out of His Leeness.

Simply put, as Halimah has mentioned, He is essentially Singapore.

The fact is that His Leeness is influential, omnipotent and omnipresent. And will be for as long as he is alive and kicking.

He can be inside or outside The Cabinet, it doesn’t really matter.

His Leeness can easily ditch the title and the salary.

But can The Cabinet easily ditch him?

So, here’s the point of today’s missive: His Leeness gives the phrase “old age creeping up on you” a whole new different meaning.

Literally. All 88 years of it.

When you least expect it, he might just sneak up from behind and beat you over the head with a stick.

Just ask George Yeo.

But just don’t ask if the blunt force trauma was intentional or unintentional.

Because uncertainty is the mother of all warnings.

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Our views on MM Lee and SM Goh’s exit

Our views on MM Lee and SM Goh’s exit

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Let’s be frank: We’re skeptical about their departure from The Cabinet.

By the editors of New Nation

Lovingly captioned from www.news.gov.sg

MM Lee Kuan Yew and SM Goh Chok Tong called it a day as cabinet ministers on 14th May, 2011.

This is a momentous day, no? Honestly, we don’t know and we have yet to find out.

So does this mean both ex-PMs can no longer go around beating the other parliamentarians over their heads anymore? Or can they?

We can only wait to find out.

We have heard quite a bit from the mainstream media about what old, stuffy foggies have to say about this occasion.

Here at New Nation, the three editors with a combined age of 77 years old (which is only 10 years older than an average Straits Times reader), pick each others’ brains for the answer.

Here are our responses to four basic questions:

1. Where was I when I heard the news?
2. What does it mean to me?
3. Why now?
4. Is there an alternative meaning?

Lovingly captioned from www.asiaone.com

Terence’s response:

1. I was at home minding my own business. The first thing I remember doing after hearing the news was telling my dad about it.

2. I hope the move is just the first of many changes they’ll make. I think it’s an effective move, a sure crowd-pleaser for a population hungry for change. But the PAP cannot stop there; they need to dig deeper into existing policies and address issues Singaporeans are concerned about. Like skyrocketing HDB prices. Otherwise Singaporeans will move to JB.

3. I don’t find the timing at all surprising. The move is an admission that the two giants have lost touch with the ground. It’s just a pity they didn’t recognise this earlier; it’s like they have finally woken up from their slumber after being bitch slapped by a legion of Singaporeans.

4. The pressure is now on our Prime Minister to deliver change. Tactically, the move by the two Guardians of Singapura would force the government in a different direction. That’s because if Xiao Lee doesn’t deliver, the dramatic gesture would then look like mere tokenism, which wouldn’t sit well with the electorate. This is a moment that could define his legacy.

Belmont’s response:

1. I was in the car when my girlfriend got on and alerted me about it. That was about 630 p.m. (a bit late, I know) because I am usually woefully ignorant of anything earth-shattering as I still refuse to carry a smartphone.

2. The surprise of the announcement turned into skepticism in about three seconds. Why now? That’s the major question still bugging me since Saturday! Because does it really make a difference if both ex-PMs operated from outside the Cabinet? If Hu Jintao showed up next week bringing tea looking for His Leeness, it will still be official but in an unofficial manner, no? Business as usual in all aspects but title, right? Up till now, I’m still considering the shrewdness of such a move. This is politics so no one can ever take anything at face value.

3. The timing of such moves are always suspect because almost nothing in politics is not deliberate. Yes, the ground sentiment towards the PAP has turned foul in recent years, but both men could have ride it out, no? Reading the speculations online and the official explanation from the joint press statement released by both ex-PMs did not do much in sensing something else is brewing. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

4. I feel that His Leeness simply cannot exit this life holding onto the title of Minister Mentor because it just does not look good in his biography. What would historians say? They’ll say he is a tyrant. Or something like that.

Instead of controlling his people, SM Goh can now focus on controlling his weight.

Shihan’s response:

1. I stepped out of the shower and was watching a Taiwanese variety show while letting my hair dry. Partner’s mum broke the news to me and compared MM Lee stepping down to Japanese Ministers quitting after something goes wrong.

2. It means leadership renewal. Like really, instead of merely paying lip service. It also means that the PAP is finally taking voter sentiment seriously. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean anything much in terms of concrete change because the two fellas will still be serving as MPs, and will still command a sense of influence within the echelons of the elite. But a symbolic change is still better than no change at all.

3. Nao, because GE is just over and change just gave the PAP a big tight slap in the face. They have finally woken up their idea after a shocking 60% win and they’ve realised they somehow need to appease the masses. The online media has been building up MM Lee as demon without par so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s the first sacrifice. Also probably because he’s been making inchoate remarks to the international press the past few years and the foreign ministry’s tired of cleaning up his piss.

4. An alternative meaning to the retirement of MM Lee and SM Goh? Maybe MM Lee just wanted to retire and the cabinet didn’t want SM Goh to be promoted to MM. Might as well retire the both at once.

What are your thoughts on their exit from The Cabinet? Do share with us!

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PAP, be warned

PAP, be warned

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Eff around with the people again, and you can be sure we will do another George Yeo on you.

By Belmont Lay

What do Tin Pei Ling and Annoying Orange have in common?

THERE’S no other polite way I can put this: 7th May, 2011 will go down in history as the day when close to one million Singaporeans tore the PAP a new asshole.

For the ruling party to have won only 60.01 percent of all valid votes this General Election, is a very pathetic showing.

It’s akin to Man U beating Swansea City 1-0. And only because Man U played Swansea on the condition that Man U uses a futsal goal post.

And the Swansea goalkeeper must be a Paralympian.

Simply put, this result is telling. It is an indication of the beginning of a new era where Singaporeans, which includes Yours Truly, refuse to take any crap from anyone, less so from the ruling elite.

And truth be told, the supposedly biggest and most powerful machinery is not delivering the goods to the people who are increasingly empowered to hold it accountable.

To start this discussion proper, let me give you vivid examples instead of harping on trite analogies.

The PAP’s Marine Parade GRC team led by the lanky titan Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who still appears a bit gormless to me, scored a mere 56.6% win against a new NSP team led by Spencer Ng (Hey bro! Sup man?!).

But looking only at the figures for valid votes is half the story. Let’s also look at the number of votes that were not cast.

For the record, 8.6 percent of the 154,451 voters (or 13,282 residents) in Marine Parade GRC decided they were going to stay home to make love or clean out the cardboard or pat the dog or cook pasta or go to JB or do dirty dancing for the rest of Polling Day. This makes the Marine Parade GRC the holder of the title for the lowest voter turnout.

To put this no-show number in perspective, the Workers’ Party led by God Himself, won Aljunied GRC by 12,433 votes.

And this no-show is serious.

Voters would rather abscond with the poll card than bother to show up to spoil the vote. And they would rather run the risk of being struck off the electoral list the next time round for being absent this GE than having to choose between NSP and PAP.

And I know why.

The no-shows of Marine Parade GRC didn’t want to vote for the NSP team led by Spencer (You the man, bro!) because he might be relatively inexperienced. And also partly because the NSP team showed up two weeks before Nomination Day and their quality was hard to judge.

But neither did they want to vote for a drooling vegetable known as Tin Pei Ling, who also happens to look and sound like Annoying Orange.

More importantly, Goh Chok Tong, Fatimah Lateef (who has teapot ears), Seah Teh Peng and ex-SAF regular Tan Chuan-Jin are not attractive enough, especially not so because they were coercing people to choose Annoying Orange too.

And let’s look at the other stats: The Workers’ Party secured 45.2 percent of votes in East Coast GRC.

The Singapore People’s Party managed 43.1 percent in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC against PAP led by Wong Kan Seng (who also has teapot ears).

The National Solidarity Party scored 42.8 percent against Affordable Mah in Tampines GRC.

In other words, PAP almost lost four GRCs overnight.

Now that the report card is out, there is talk that PAP is doing some soul-searching to find out what caused the overall slump.

Why not consult me? I am a true blue Singaporean. I can tell you what went wrong having spent my whole life under the PAP regime.

Simply put, the politics of misdirection, arrogance, entitlement and double standards must stop if the PAP wants to woo the younger voters and not look like ingrates and turd-like in the eyes of older ones.

1. Misdirection: When WP came out with their manifesto about wanting to move towards a First World Parliament, what happened? As WP chief Low Thia Khiang put it, His Leeness was “jumping up and down” and getting livid over WP’s show hand gamble and harping on Aljunied GRC’s property prices.

Singaporeans no longer appreciate this kind of politics of misdirection. Address the issue directly, especially about a First World Parliament, rather than trying to beat us over our heads with a stick.

Graphic: CARTOON PRESS

2. Arrogance: Never, ever promise the electorate you can provide them with everything. Never only say sorry three days before Polling Day and never force the electorate to accept another Annoying Orange.

The method of picking candidates has to change. No more tea sessions that obviously don’t work because it cannot even spot God Himself from a mile away and the psychological testing should go the way of the typewriter.

3. Entitlement: Trying to justify why ministers make so much money is going to blunt PAP’s appeal to anyone who makes less than $30,000 a year.

Having front page say in the national newspaper is not helping either because it makes you all seem more powerful than you really are and having the mandate of Heaven to be featured ad nauseam.

For PAP to be able to pick and choose which candidates stay and which should be pawned in GRCs would give us not much choice except more Tin Pei Lings and less George Yeos.

Shouldn’t the people who are voting be entitled to choose instead? More SMC contests anyone?

4. Double standards: Vivian Balakrishnan, who annoys the hell out of a lot of people, straight or gay, got a direct answer from Chee Soon Juan when he wanted to know if the SDP had a gay agenda (Which is utterly nonsensical because there is no such thing as a “gay agenda” to begin with).

And when Vivian, who has a girl’s name, is asked to reveal the accounts for YOG, he hams and haws and acts like $300 million spent is all worthwhile.

Plus, for all the PAP talk about scrutinising opposition candidates for this GE, they couldn’t practise a little introspection.

Annoying Orange flouted campaigning rules at least twice, once before Nomination Day and then during Cooling Off Day as well, and then what happens?

Nothing. Precisely.

The Elections Department claims to be unable to deal with it, so they can take their rules and shove it.

So, that’s the round-up. But there’s more.

Yam Ah Mee, who is the new sex, has his stellar announcements to thank when more women (and some men) approach to bed him.

And this annoys the hell out of a lot of people as well because Ah Mee kept announcing PAP the winner for every GRC even when they only received 60.14 percent of the valid votes.

So, herein lies the point of today’s missive: 81-6 annoys a lot of people.

But that’s okay for now because the journey Towards A First World Parliament means more PAP candidates will be George Yeo-ed in 2016.

I can’t wait.

Caveat: Author is the boyfriend of Nicole Seah and her election agent for GE2011. Read with discretion.

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Nicole Seah: Ground is sweet, looking forward to competition

Nicole Seah: Ground is sweet, looking forward to competition

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Enthusiastic crowd and international media greets National Solidarity Party Marine Parade GRC team at Aljunied and Serangoon walkabouts.

A New Nation exclusive.

Little Nonya shakes some hands at a hawker centre

The hottest thing in Singapore right now, besides the darn weather and Chen Show Mao (who is God-like), is Nicole Seah.

Nicole, an advertising executive, is going toe-to-toe with Goh Chok Tong (not Tin Pei Ling, mind you) as one of five candidates for the National Solidarity Party in Marine Parade GRC.

Who would have thought, right?

What began as an unassuming informal introduction on Tuesday to announce her candidacy, Nicole’s Public Figure profile page on Facebook has since turned into a socialsphere fiesta with 15,000-plus fans and counting. (In contrast, New Nation, has about 333 fans in five months. Nicole took like what? Fourteen minutes after her FB page went “live” to surpass that number?)

She is still trending on Google, trending on Twitter and she even has her own Wikipedia entry.

Best of all, she might just make one of our editors eat his own words for stating rather prematurely that “social media would have limited influence on this General Election“.

Here’s the Little Nyonya, as netizens have dubbed her, in her own words, after today’s Sunday morning walkabout at Aljunied market and Serangoon central where about 50 party members and volunteers turned up to show their, erm, solidarity.

By the way, Nicole (who is goddess-like), is only 24 years old. And she speaks better than Chan Chun Sing, an ex-SAF regular and PAP candidate to be potentially fielded in Tanjong Pagar GRC.

——————–

Question: There was a huge turnout at today’s walkabout at Aljunied market. What do you think about it?

Nicole: We expected a crowd as this walkabout had been publicised over Facebook. The response was really warm and encouraging. For the past 19 years, Marine Parade GRC residents did not get a chance to exercise their vote so we as the opposition don’t know how it would turn out and neither does the incumbent know what to expect. But I think the ground is sweet this time at Marine Parade.

How is the ground sweet?

I’m quite sure some of those who turned up found out about the walkabout online. They were really friendly and supportive and we chatted a bit. But there was a large number of those at the market who had no idea we were turning up. And they were happy to see us there.

And CNN turned up too, no?

Yes, there was a video interview but this is not something to be unexpected. Things are changing, the local media senses it, the people on the ground can sense it and the international media too. And if you saw what the people on the ground had to say, I mean, I’ll describe a lot of them to be “relieved”. Relieved that there is going to be some form of competition this time round.

So what is one issue you noticed in Marine Parade GRC that is of concern to you?

Even as you look at how developed the place is, there are clusters of lower income households and young people who are struggling. The policies that have been implemented in recent years have also affected the middle class to a large extent, with many factors such as rising property prices, rising goods and services taxes, and the depression of local wages due to competition from a liberal immigrant policy. You can see it for yourselves on the ground. If this country wants to focus on economic growth and success, I’m sure many people would not disagree. But what is the point of all these development when you can’t raise the base?

You will also notice that many of the issues specific to the constituents of Marine Parade GRC has expanded to a nationwide scale. What has happened is that the use of GDP growth as a KPI (Key Performance Index) has given many in the public sector, especially officeholders, fat bonuses, while the man in the street continues to feel the pinch from ever-rising costs and stagnant wages. The NSP is pushing for a national focus on wage growth and abolishing taxes on basic necessities such as food staples, so that no Singaporean is deprived of their basic necessities because of the lack of money.

What about your Serangoon walkabout? How did that go?

The funny thing was people in Serangoon didn’t even know which GRC or SMC they belong too. Some were confused that they fall under Marine Parade (GRC). And there was this lady who is well-travelled and calls herself a heartlander, she approached the NSP candidates, shook our hands and even went in front of the media cameras and spoke her heart about what ails her. She said she doesn’t understand what this country has come to. And she was just passing by on her way home.

What is one message you have for the young volunteers here today?

Always remember what you are doing this for. This is not for ourselves, but for our country, for the people who cannot speak up for themselves. We may not see the fruits of our labour in the immediate future, but let that not deter us from putting forward our best shot to make this a Singapore that we can truly call home.

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Yes, we (look like we) can

Yes, we (look like we) can

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Will the image of a Singapore politician change in the next General Elections?

By Justin Zhuang

A WEEK after a bear was sighted at Ulu Pandan, another bear was out on the loose at Bukit Panjang. This time around, no one panicked when they saw it – some stopped to take pictures, while children even went up to touch this brown bear.

Unlike the earlier sighting that turned out to be a publicity stunt for Philips Electronics gone wrong, this one got the right attention and seemingly done the impossible: getting Singaporeans to openly embrace the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) – in the form of their new mascot, Danny the Democracy Bear.

Photos: SINGAPORE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Two years ago, in the place of Danny would have been the political party’s secretary-general Dr Chee Soon Juan, who instead of wearing a cute red t-shirt printed with ‘I ♥ SDP’ would have had one hand painted in angst with ‘Democracy Now’.

But like the Ulu Pandan ‘bear sighting’, this old image of SDP only attracted the attention of the authorities to hunt them down, and made Singaporeans hysterical.

Danny the mascot marks a change in strategy for SDP.

Once notorious in the eyes of the public for being a nuisance through its campaign of civil disobedience in the last decade, it seems the SDP now wants to win over the electorate by replacing its fiery brand of politics with something more friendly and fuzzy instead.

Such ‘branding’ of politics is hardly a recent phenomenon, but it’s something less talked about in public as most politician would rather stick to their policies and programs.

In the 2008 US presidential elections, however, it came to the forefront with Barack Obama’s successful campaign that showed how branding, graphic design, and popular culture could propel a relative newcomer like him to victory.

Since then, much has been written about how Obama successfully cultivated his branding and projecting an image down to the right font that sold himself to becoming the President of America.

In Singapore, the tight laws and regulations governing political expression have restricted the marketing efforts of political parties, which have been rudimentary at best.

One of the most successful ones is the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) white-on-white uniform that became iconic when a recent history book about the party was titled, “Men In White”.

Men in White, 1988. Picture: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SINGAPORE

This uniform with a party pin instantly bestows any wearer the status of a PAP member and its associated symbols of purity and integrity. In recent years, other parties have also put in similar efforts to cloth themselves in their party brand.

The Workers’ Party (WP) goes with light blue shirts in line with its history of standing up for blue-collared workers, while members of one of the newest parties, The Reform Party, are often seen wearing yellow shirts.

Other efforts to brand a party have turned up in pins, newsletters and posters, though its quality varies vastly.

For instance, when one looks through the archival collection of election posters over the last four decades, one can see why the PAP has been so successful in elections.

Most parties have been contented with plastering their posters with their candidate’s photo and name, the party’s logo and name (often in all four official languages), and even a plea to ‘Vote for…’.

People's Action Party, 1980. Pictures: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SINGAPORE

Worker's Party, 1980.

In contrast, the PAP’s posters look disciplined, clear, and distinct. The party has also consciously designed its campaign posters, juxtaposing images and text to visually communicate its slogan and messages.

One reason for such professionally designed materials is probably how much resources the PAP has access to, although one also has to take into account that election rules limit the budget for each candidate.

PAP, 1980.

PAP, 2006

PAP, 1988. Pictures: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SINGAPORE

But, of course, a poster alone cannot win you an election. If it did, the 1980s election posters of then WP’s J.B. Jeyaretnam were not deserving graphically to break the PAP’s monopoly of Parliament.

Neither were the SDP’s posters of 1991; the year when the party helped the opposition win the most number of seats since 1963. It wasn’t visually attractive materials that helped these two politicians win a seat in Parliament, but it certainly mattered how the public saw them.

The late Jeyaretnam with his fiery rhetoric was seen by many as a symbol of the ordinary man’s rage against the PAP machine, winning him two successful election victories.

A much more lasting image appeared in the 1991 elections in the form of then SDP’s secretary-general Chiam See Tong.

His party won three seats that year as Chiam had successfully sold himself in the previous elections and won it for the first time. His character and style showed how politics could be quiet and gentle, in contrast to the fiery battles between Jeyaretnam and PAP’s Lee Kuan Yew, winning over a new generation of voters.

SDP, 1984. Picture: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SINGAPORE.

This heralded the arrival of the new image of a Singapore politician, including the likes of WP’s Low Thia Khiang and PAP’s new leader Goh Chok Tong.

In the 1991 elections, Goh tried unsuccessfully to re-brand the party, promising a ‘open and consultative style of government’, but they still lost an unprecedented number of seats.

Perhaps, the no-nonsense politics of Goh’s predecessor was still synonymous with the PAP in the voters’ eyes. Proof that this new image of the Singapore politician was established can be seen in the fortunes of SDP since the 1997 elections.

By then, Chiam had left the party after falling out with his protege, Dr Chee. While Chiam went on to start the Singapore Peoples’ Party and continued his reign in Potong Pasir in the last decade, SDP went down the route of civil disobedience under Chee and has yet to receive popular support.

But it can be argued that the SDP has been the most innovative political party under Dr Chee. Beside cuddly bears and demonstrations, it was the first party to put up Internet podcasts before it was found to contravene elections rules. Now it publishes regularly on its website, Facebook and even produce its own videos.

The SDP has successfully caught the attention of the public, but translating it into votes and projecting the ‘right’ image of itself has been more difficult.

So what will be the image of a winning politician in the next general elections? With a Singapore electorate that is more cosmopolitan and sophisticated, it is no longer enough for a party to do nothing to take care of its ‘image’ but to build upon it.

As compared to Obama’s campaign, the political parties in Singapore have taken a very conservative view of branding and marketing themselves, if they even bothered at all.

They’ve stuck to the politics and kept it straight, and perhaps rightly so. After the 2006 elections, the PAP tried to engage the new generation of voters with its ‘P65’ Members of Parliament.

Born after independence, this new slate of MPs were supposed to be cooler, and they tried to hip-hop and blog their way to the hearts of Singaporean youths. Probably because it was an establishment project, it was an ‘epic fail’. The P65 blog has since been revamped and the P65 tag is less used now.

So will SDP and its Danny the Democracy Bear tank too? Will the electorate see it as a gimmick and even a joke? And can the image of a raging Dr Chee ever be replaced by a fuzzy bear?

Photo: M LEE

After the last two decades, the quiet and gentle politician may no longer be enough to engage an increasingly apathetic electorate.

Obama’s win has shown that a new generation is waiting to be roused, entertained, and even educated – if you’ve got the style. This is something that is missing in our politics here today.

It’s no longer just about substance, but in our image world today, you have to look like you have it too.

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