Tag Archive | "People’s Action Party"

9 ways PAP can engage people online

9 ways PAP can engage people online

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The Government can manage a $200-billion-a-year economy, but keeps getting owned online. NewNation.sg shows the noobs how to do it right.

By Belmont Lay

Even Kim the meme gets in on The Internet

If you recall, at the opening of the 12th Parliament a couple of weeks ago, President Tony Tan was flummoxed in his maiden speech (which is actually written by the Government and read on behalf by the president) about how to go about using “the new media constructively“.

Note how lost the ruling elites really are when it comes to anything online: The moment Tony referred to “new media” as “the new media”, like how really old and out-of-touch people tend to refer to new, modern, contemporary things using the definite article as in “The Blackberry”, “The Facebook”, “The Zouk”, you know at once he and the potentate are clueless about what they are talking about. Read the full story

Former MM Lee Kuan Yew: The Singapore vision is your vision, not my vision

Former MM Lee Kuan Yew: The Singapore vision is your vision, not my vision

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You know guys, The Old Man really just wants to retire. Cut him some slack.

By Fang Shihan

He came, he croaked and he curtly rasped his way around questions from all directions. Not that you would expect anything less from Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who was at the receiving end of the Q&A session organized by the Lee Kuan Yew School of public policy on Wednesday.

The grandfather of Singapore stands tall at 88 years old this year and is clearly still very influential as an international thinker – but reluctantly so.

This was Lee just three years ago with Fareed Zakaria:

A far cry from the disengaged grandaddy that he personified during the Q&A when answers were filled with awkward silences as moderator Kishore Mahbubani struggled to figure out if he’d actually finished his answer.

Arriving onstage with a bandage on his middle finger (we figure he cut  himself while giving the finger to hordes of mangy journalists. Just because he’s badass), wearing office socks paired with a pair of Nike Free running shoes, The Old Man, as he’s fondly known, candidly batted off questions he thought were irrelevant and gave his honest disclaimer about issues he felt he wouldn’t be an expert on.

“If he’s from Sri Lanka then he’ll know more about Sri Lanka than I do,” he replied to a person who wrote in asking about the post-conflict country.

Still, the questions on international relations kept coming, and the fortune cookie insights from the oracle who transformed a tiny rock to a metropolitan city, continued to wow the audience and created headlines.

Not that he appreciated it. At one point, it almost felt like he became increasingly exasperated with the adulation – or maybe it was a case of same set of shitty questions on a different day.

He did however, confidently say that he was an expert on Singapore issues. And this is where New Nation comes in.

We asked him if his public appearances during the general elections affected PM Lee’s chances of winning. To which he chuckled:

wHy dO YoU ALL tHiNk I hAvE aLL tHe AnsWeRs???

“I did not appear so often anyway. I have stood down and I don’t know who gave you the impression I appeared so frequently. I have stood down and I am off the press as a focus of attention, and off the electronic media.”

Now the written word doesn’t do him justice. He might sound pompous or even scathing in the reply but in reality, Big Scary former MM Lee Kuan Yew was just one “Girl ar…” short of sounding like any other 88 year old grandfather.

A grandfather that has seen a country from its squalid post-war beginnings to its current cosmopolitan state. Oh and a grandfather that single-handedly destroyed Singapore’s opposition prior to independence.

“Conditions change,” he says. “After long period of quiet, confident rule, a generation that grows up in a period of affluence believes that we have arrived. And as the saying goes, a first world parliament must have a first world opposition. So the restlessness. whether that leads to better governance we have to wait and see.”

So the old man still has problems with a non-one party state, saying that Singapore does not have the critical mass to produce two A-grade political teams.

But grumble as he may – and with that growl of a voice, amplified by the microphone close to his throat it certainly sounded unhappy – he made it clear that his time is over and that Singapore is in the hands of the next generation.

He says, “The vision has to be your vision, not my vision. I’ve lived my life, I’m 88. I’m strolling into the sunset, maybe I’ll stumble towards the end. But you have to have a vision of the kind of Singapore you want and you got to crystallize that and get your leaders to adopt your vision.”

Paraphrased: “I’m done with this shit. It’s your problem now. Let me retire in peace.”

So cut him some slack guys.

George Yeo: Worker’s Party using you as a springboard

George Yeo: Worker’s Party using you as a springboard

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The Foreign Minister goes on the offensive, but his debut rally was disappointing.

By Fang Shihan

For a PAP rally, the attendance was actually quite good. Photo: FANG SHIHAN

THE crowd at Serangoon stadium was markedly smaller than yesterday’s, when the Worker’s Party took the stage. An estimated 1,500 PAP supporters turned up for the Aljunied GRC rally at Serangoon stadium. Some left disappointed while others had a good time.

Unlike other PAP rallies which comprise mostly Resident’s Committee members being ferried from one location to another, the crowd at this rally consisted of genuine voters who wanted to hear what PAP had to say in their own defense.

Most of the speeches were forgettable and revolved around micro-issues, although residents do care about them. One speech mentioned that the PAP would build sheltered walkways for residents if it were elected…and was rewarded with loud cheering.

It was as if sheltered walkways, clean spaces and safe, family friendly neighbourhoods were tasks that only a PAP MP could handle, and therefore deserved some fanfare. Almost like when Janil Puthucheary mentioned that he saved children everyday (because he was a pediatrician), building walkways was equated to serving the nation.

No, you’re not serving the nation, it’s your job and it’s what you’re supposed to do.

Besides expecting to be thanked for doing a job as it should be done, the PAP also enlisted the help of a professional bootlicker – PAP ‘friend’ Arthur Wee, who spent a good 20min waxing lyrical about how awesome the candidates were and what they did, in Hokkien.

The first five minutes was rather entertaining, and then it got boring, then terribly annoying. If the PAP was expecting voters to take politics seriously then this was a sharp turnaround. This became a wasted 20 minutes of rally time.

When George Yeo finally arrived, he received the loudest cheers. Yet his speech left much to be desired. Spending a considerable amount of time talking about the WP, he slams them for “playing with the lives of over 14,000 voters”. The 14,000 later went up to 20,000 as the night grew long, as his memory started to fail.

Boy having fun at the rally. Photo: FANG SHIHAN

The nation’s Total Fertility Rate is at its lowest so there’s no way in hell that 6,000 new voters from Aljunied were born overnight. He also mentioned that the WP, in its long and detailed manifesto, didn’t mention what they could do for the constituency, preferring instead to harp on national issues.

He then accuses the opposition party of using Aljunied voters as a springboard for greater things. “If WP captures power, their first concern will not be for the people”.

He further discredits the WP by saying that: “During the elections, political parties play games”. He points out that they have neither the people nor resources to go beyond handing out flyers and campaigning on national issues (and ignoring local constituency issues). The WP has no grassroots experience for Aljunied and may not have a clue how to run it.

He urges the voters not to be fooled (paraphrasing). The WP is asking for a “blank cheque” by asking Singaporeans to vote them in before showing them a plan for the constituency.

He adds that the WP is transforming the Aljunied debate into a personality-based issue: George vs. LTK.

Yet George Yeo is the only one giving out a flyer of his face on it. The hypocrisy.

Lastly, he says that Sylvia Lim is trying to be his HR manager by asking him to retire and to become an ambassador. New Nation recommends Recruit Express instead.


At the end of the rally, this author was asked by a man sitting beside him:

“Between the devil and the deep blue sea, who would you choose?”

He then answered his own question, rather poignantly: “The deep blue sea. If you don’t like, you can swim away. But you’re stuck with the devil forever.”

Watch George Yeo’s rally speech and gauge for yourselves.




GE results

GE results

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Find out the election results here, as well as who your MPs will be. Map updates will lag.

2011: PAP: 60.1%, Opposition: 39.9%

2006: PAP: 66.7%, Opposition: 33.3%

View Larger Map

White: Constituency goes to PAP

Blue: Constituency goes to Opposition


2.49am – PAP wins Potong Pasir at 50.36% while SPP garnered 49.64% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 81, Opposition – 6

2.21am – PAP wins Jurong GRC at 66.96% while NSP garnered 33.04% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 80, Opposition – 6

2.10am – WP wins Aljunied GRC at 54.71% while WP garnered 45.29% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 75, Opposition – 6

2.03am – PAP wins Choa Chu Kang GRC at 61.20% while NSP garnered 38.80% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 75, Opposition – 1

2.03am – PAP wins Holland-Bukit Timah GRC at 60.10% while SDP garnered 39.90% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 70, Opposition – 1

1.56am – PAP wins Nee Soon GRC at 58.56% while WP garnered 41.61% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 66, Opposition – 1

1.54am – PAP wins Sembawang GRC at 63.89% while SDP garnered 36.11% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 61, Opposition – 1

1.48am – PAP wins Pioneer SMC at 60.73% while NSP garnered 39.27% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 56, Opposition – 1

1.45am – PAP wins East Coast GRC at 54.83% while WP garnered 45.17% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 55, Opposition – 1

1.38am – PAP wins Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC at 56.94% while SPP garnered 43.06% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 50, Opposition – 1

1.34am – PAP wins Punggol East SMC at 54.53%, WP garnered 41.02% of the votes, while SDA got 4.45% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 45, WP – 1

1.28am – PAP wins Ang Mo Kio GRC at 69.33% while RP garnered 30.67% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 44, Opposition – 1

1.22am – PAP wins Sengkang West SMC at 58.08% while WP garnered 41.92% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 38, Opposition – 1

1.19am – PAP wins Yuhua SMC at 66.87% while SDP garnered 33.13% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 37, Opposition – 1

1.12am – PAP wins West Coast GRC at 66.57% while RP garnered 33.43% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 36, Opposition – 1

1.04am – PAP wins Hong Kah North SMC at 70.61% while SPP garnered 29.39% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 31, Opposition – 1

1.04am – PAP wins Tampines GRC at 57.22% while NSP garnered 42.78% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 30, Opposition – 1

12.58am – PAP wins Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC at 64.79% while SDA garnered 35.21% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 25, Opposition – 1

12.56am – WP wins Hougang SMC at 64.81% while PAP garnered 35.19% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 19, Opposition – 1

12.53am – PAP wins Marine Parade GRC at 56.65% while NSP garnered 43.35% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 19, Opposition – 0

12.44am – PAP wins Joo Chiat SMC at 51.01% while WP garnered 48.99% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 14, Opposition – 0

12.30am – PAP wins Moulmein-Kallang GRC at 58.56% while WP garnered 41.44% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 13, Opposition – 0

12.27am – Strong win expected for PAP at Sembawang GRC.

12.10am – PAP wins Whampoa SMC at 66.11% while NSP garnered 32.89% of the votes. Seats won: PAP – 9, Opposition – 0

12.07am – PAP wins Radin Mas SMC at 67.11% while NSP garnered 32.89% of the votes.

12.04am – PAP wins Bukit Panjang SMC at 66.26% while NSP garnered 33.74% of the votes.

12am – PAP wins Mountbatten SMC at 58.65% while NSP garnered 41.35% of the votes.

Want to have the blogosphere in your pocket? New Nation has an app for that. Available on the Android Marketplace.

More New Nation content on GE2011 here.

Key debates at Channel NewsAsia’s political forum

Key debates at Channel NewsAsia’s political forum

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Debate centred around economic issues; Opposition wins by a whisker.

By Terence Lee


Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) assistant treasurer Vincent Wijeysingha advocated a zero-rate GST for basic services like food so as to alleviate pressure from lower-income groups.

In response, finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam came out robustly in defense of the GST system, saying that most of the revenue generated from the GST comes from the top 40 percent of Singaporeans. The money collected is then given back to the poor through subsidies and handouts. He says that the poor get more from these handouts than the GST they pay.

On a related note, People’s Action Party (PAP) member-of-parliament Josephine Teo claims that the government’s Inclusive Growth programme would benefit over 20,000 low wage workers.

Vincent’s suggestion sounds interesting but I wonder how robust it is compared to the government’s existing measures? I also have my doubts about whether the PAP’s current policies are sufficient enough to tackle insufficient wages experienced by the poor.

For instance, while Workfare acts as supplementary income for low-wage workers, much of it goes to the CPF instead of to the worker’s pockets. It’s a pity that the idea of minimum wage was not discussed much.

Result: Tie

On income of the poor

Photo: SILAS HWANG / Creative Commons

Vincent highlights a UBS report stating that the purchasing power of Singaporeans is actually comparable to Russia’s, despite being a “first-rate” economy.

Tharman counters by saying that the UBS report is flawed, without going into specifics. He then mentioned that Singapore’s median income is quite high compared to other countries.

Vincent responds by questioning the validity of median income as an indicator for the well-being of the poor. He then criticises the ministers for their million-dollar salaries, a dig that was ignored.

Finally, Tharman assures viewers that the PAP cares for the welfare of the people. He smartly reemphasises the benefits of the GST system and its trickle-down effect from rich to poor.

Result: PAP wins

On housing

Gerald Giam of the Worker’s Party and Vincent both echo the view that the HDB should be non-profit, something that Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan would claim is already the case. Gerald goes on to say that prices of HDB flats should be pegged to the cost of flats and not to the resale and private housing market.

Vincent took another tack on the issue, arguing that HDB prices are too high for the lower-income group because they spend too much money from their retirement funds on housing. That’s why they work until the 70s and 80s. Ownership to the home becomes a form of slavery.

“We’re asset secure but income insecure,” he says.

Neither Tharman nor Josephine addressed Gerald’s point. Responding to Vincent, he says that Singaporeans on average use 23 percent of their income to service their housing mortgage, a figure that hasn’t changed much over the years. However, he does not say how the figure is like for the poor.

The PAP reps’ response to the housing debate was not as concise as the GST and income level issues. Neither Vincent’s nor Gerald’s criticisms were successfully rebutted.

Result: Opposition wins

On foreign workers

Photo: KODOMUT / Creative Commons

There isn’t much disagreement between the political parties here: All admit that productivity must go up, while reliance on foreign workers must go down. While the PAP highlighted existing measures to achieve those aims, the opposition (Vincent especially) was quick to point out that the PAP was slow in realising their mistakes.

Vincent, in a ballsy but effective move, interrupted Melissa at one point and mentioned how the PAP was flawed in its measurement of productivity over the past 27 years.

Indeed, a study by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy indicated that Singapore’s productivity growth has stalled over the years, despite government intervention.

Surely, a sore point for the PAP.

Result: Opposition wins

Other issues

On healthcare, Singapore People’s Party second vice-chairperson Lina Chiam’s assertion about the lack of hospital beds was countered by Tharman’s mention of statistics: Occupancy rate for hospitals is only 85 percent. Of course, this figure should be scrutinised further. Lina went on to say how healthcare costs can be reduced by discouraging medical tourism.

She then goes on a tear by highlighting a smorgasbord of other issues: More critical thinking in schools, better political education for students, more recognition for single mothers. Despite her incoherence, the ideas she mentioned are actually pretty good.

But the bad impression she made negates whatever good things she said.

Vincent, being typically SDP, highlighted exorbitant ministerial salaries and persecution of Opposition figures in the past, although he did not press the point home to the extent where it would challenge entrenched views. These issues were not addressed by Tharman and Josephine, which meant the debate was mainly centred around the economy.

Result: Tie

Final score

PAP: 1; Opposition: 2

I must disclaim that I am effectively pro-opposition. That’s my bias. So I felt the Opposition did better in this debate (whether Singaporeans vote for them is another matter). What’s clear is that Vincent is the star striker amongst them all.

For an assessment of the individual candidate’s performance, click here.

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.


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”.


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


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.


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.