Message to Opposition: Don’t forget to whack the PAP

Posted on 11 March 2011

NSP Sec-Gen Goh Meng Seng needs to stop scoring own goals; the enemy’s the other way.

By Terence Lee

Will Goh Meng Seng (third from left) still be smiling after the General Elections, or will his antics come back to bite him? Photo: TERENCE LEE

BACK in the good’ol days when Singapore football actually meant something, you wouldn’t see Fandi Ahmad tackle  Sundramoorthy on the pitch, even if the opponent were minnows. In fact, underdogs often raise their game when facing a far superior team.

Which makes the recent catfight between the National Solidarity Party and Worker’s Party all the more mind-boggling.

It seems that the People Action’s Party (PAP) was forgotten the week after the new electoral boundaries were made known, despite being the fattest sumo wrestler in the ring, and the most dazzling (or the most kayu) football player on the field.

Instead, you get a silly blog post by NSP Secretary-General Goh Meng Seng criticising the Worker’s Party and its arrogance, to which Low Thia Khiang, his counterpart at the WP, rebutted in Lianhe Zaobao.

Meng Seng, fresh off a press conference on Thursday when he announced NSP’s slate of candidates for Moulmein-Kallang GRC, is unapologetic.

“It’s just an emotional, sentimental post. But people mistaken it as an attack. It’s not.”

Really? Even when you said they have “lost sight” of their mission, or that they are thumbing down on other parties? Even when you insinuate that they are “arrogant”?

He continues: “When you speak your mind of course it’s going to be critical. If I don’t speak my mind I’m a politician. But when I write I’m not a politician, I’m a human.”

What shall I call you then? Uncle Meng Seng? Pops? Granddaddy? Koyok Seller?

So, here’s a veteran politician pretending to be a ranty emo-kid with a personal blog-plaything. He waved away my suggestion that he was trying to use his blog to pressure the WP to give up Moulmein-Kallang. Shrewd politician? Or am I giving him too much credit?

The usually smooth auntie-killer also trips himself up by saying: “There’s nothing (in the blog post that’s) critical about anybody. It’s just a very emotional piece. There’s nothing to do with arguing who’s right and who’s wrong.”

I rest my case.

The Opposition should start doing what they do best: Whack the PAP! Say anything, like how the Prime Minister is a pig, or how Lee Kuan Yew should go to a retirement village!

But let’s give Secretary-General Sir credit where it’s due. His party is the first to officially announce their candidates at any constituency, beating even the PAP. He has managed to attract credible candidates who left the Reform Party, which indicates some semblance of leadership ability.

His experience probably helped. While Reform Party Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam comes across as a true noob with poor media management skills, Meng Seng appears slightly better.

He has another thing going for him: He looks like someone you can talk to. He’s not as dashing as PAP man Michael Palmer, but he’s cute, in a cuddly Teddy Bear kind of way.  He’s the uncle who sips kopi downstairs, Wanbao in hand. About as heartlander as you can get.

Ah Seng’s certainly someone who seems down-to-earth, or at least gives that impression. Kenneth on the other hand, seems like the opposite: He uses his poker face and impressive qualifications to hide his political inexperience.

But as much of a veteran as he is, I think the blog post is ill-timed and poorly conceived; a symptom of a deep-rooted problem within the opposition camp: Rampant egos. Calculated move or not, there is no room in politics for undisciplined emotional outbursts. It distracts both opposition parties from the real fight against the ruling party. It gives the impression of a fractured Opposition. It could be a tool used by the PAP against him.

And there’s no guarantee WP will be pressured to give up Moulmein-Kallang, despite NSP’s shenanigans and media posturing. Which means we could be headed for a three-way fight.

In fact, both parties seem to be so focused on their petty squabbles that they literally ignored PM Lee Hsien Loong’s recent jibe: “It seems to me rather exciting day-to-day changes, transformations, quarrels, squabbles, new friendships and old enmities all surfacing at the same time. I look forward to the next installment.”

Perhaps opposition members are suffering from guilty conscience. So I related my concern to a person within the NSP. And guessed what he told me? Be patient. Sure, you can tell me that, but try saying it to the thousands of first-time voters who have watched every episode of this oddball family drama, and who actually appreciate what the government has done for them so far, despite the rising costs of living. Voters are not stupid.

But as far as I’m concerned, there’s still time to get their act together.

The Opposition should start doing what they do best: Whack the PAP! Say anything, like how the Prime Minister is a pig, or how Lee Kuan Yew should go to a retirement village!

Anything but criticise your fellow opposition member in public, and pass it off as a touchy-feely moment. Even Singapore Democratic Party man James Gomez’s horrible piece on how Singapore will experience a revolution akin to the Middle East will suffice, although it sounds like empty election rhetoric that signals how out-of-touch with the ground he may be.

Yes, I’m that desperate.

More New Nation content on GE2011 here.

This post was written by:

- who has written 81 posts on New Nation.

Terence is an online media nut that is obsessed with writing and publishing on the Internet. Recently, he took up photography to expand his repertoire, and hopes to learn videography soon. He has worked in both online and print publications such as The Straits Times, Today, Mind Your Body, The Online Citizen, and Funkygrad. He is currently the assistant editor with SGEntrepreneurs, a website that covers entrepreneurship in Singapore and Asia. Terence can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Contact the author

  • fong

    ” Calculated move or not, there is no room in politics for undisciplined emotional outbursts. ”

    like this phrase, but then again the rest of ur article does hint at a bit of emotional outburst from urself too.. o/w agree w the gist of it.. just need to be more focused in writing.. just my 2 cents

  • http://singaporealternatives.blogspot.com Goh Meng Seng

    Terrence is just being passionate of what he believes in and passionate people will always have emotional outbursts like me. :)

    Having said that, I think most people really think too much of my blog post. The Zaobao reporter actually thinks that I am hinting WP is trying to block NSP because NSP is becoming a “threat” to its position. That is just that bit far off. The truth is, when the space within the eastern corridor is so packed, two opposition parties enjoying growth will definitely face each other in a situation of 3 corner fight if they don’t want to move towards the “untested” territory in the WEST.

    NSP has done its part. Although NSP has generally been contesting and working the ground in the eastern corridors like Tampines and Jalan Besar (which is now split into Moulmein Kallang and Whampao), in order to avoid clashes with WP, we started our expansion plan in the wild wild west, Jurong GRC which was not contested in 2006.

    Unfortunately, WP chose a very different approach to stay put in the eastern corridors which inevitably step into “traditional turfs” like NSP’s Jalan Besar. Mr. Low Thia Khiang has even indicated that WP’s first choice was Tampines.

    Opposition’s difference on contesting turfs is an important issue as well because Singaporeans do not want to see 3 corner fights, especially in GRC. It is important to make clear why certain things happen in certain ways which results in potential 3 corner fights.

    Goh Meng Seng

    • Fiona

      NSP is the real deal – very few people commit their all to contest and try to win a GRC like GMS.

  • Go Make Sense

    Are you doing a u-turn, NSP chief? You pointed out that WP should go to Sembawang GRC because it is ‘close proxmity’ with Nee Soon but now you are saying WP should not just stick to ‘eastern corridors’? Also why should you want to field candidates in Nee Soon when you want WP to go Sembawang. For your info, Moulmein Kallang look more central than east on the map. Do you really know how the electoral boundaries map look like? Or are you contradicting yourself again and again in the eagerness to slam WP?

    • Fiona

      WP always says they are a small party – so if NSP can, let them expand as much as they can!

  • Good Mother’s Son

    Say what you want and do what you wish..there is a price to pay for everything..including irresponsible,emotional outbursts. If you are really so confident like u claimed,u should stand in M-K GRC with ur suicide squad..

  • Icarus

    @ Meng Seng,

    If you want to have your regular emotional outbursts, perhaps you should consider getting out of politics first.

    • Fiona

      This is nonsense talk.

  • bruce

    Just feel indignant when looking at these opposition candidates who were wearing yellow just a few weeks ago and now wearing orange, all for the game of taking part in the elections.

  • Singaporean

    It seems that those part-hoppers from RP were parachuted into Moulmein-Kallang GRC immediately upon joining NSP.

    What makes them think they deserved to be contesting there, more than the WP? Who were the displaced NSP members who have been “working the ground” in Jalan Besar before the RP deserters showed up?

    If there is a 3-cornered fight with the WP, both opposition parties WILL lose.

    After that, it remains to be seen if the ex-RP members will become ex-NSP members.

  • noname

    We Singaporeans have suffer long enough under the fox Lee family. Please spread your team wisely so that each zone has 1 opposition party contesting in the next General Election. I can assure you, many of us are VERY VERY SICK of being “Native but 3rd class citizen of a nation governed by idiots who import congestions and contention”. We want those people who made our island a “Congested Islet of Foreign Talents (42% of population) – Singapore.” – TOTALLY OUT!

    Also please come contest in Chua Chu Kang or Jurong GRC, the western side! Many of us want to exercise our rights – to vote those PAP elites PIGS out!

    Sincerely hope for a CHANGE for Singapore!

    • http://newnation.sg Shihan

      thumbs down for your comment. Don’t generalise your opinion into a national trend.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxgs-EtVKG4 Fiona

      紅花開,紅的心,紅的好美麗,為了你,等下去,我還在這裡

      Let us defend our nation, because who will defend our country, if not us?

  • Lee Kwon Poop

    That PaP should be called the PooP because
    (1) they’re full of it;
    (2) they tell you when, how, and where to sh*t, and
    (3) they will soon weigh your sh*t to make sure you aren’t eating too much!

    • http://newnation.sg Shihan

      thumbs down.

    • LJ

      No substance.

  • seriously?

    yeah listen to your advice and our political system will turn into Taiwan’s.

  • Roy

    I just came back from Taiwan. Whats wrong with a political system that resulted in:

    1) The streets are clean
    2) Low crime rates
    3) The people have a strong sense of identity
    4) Their manufacturing and products industry is doing ok – Acer, Benq, MSI, Asus, UMCI, HTC vs what brands does Singapore have
    5) Their cost of living is lower without compromising quality
    6) Their entertainment industry is far far superior than ours
    7) Maybe their financial industry is lagging but boy are their retail and service sectors impressive? Excellent service standards with jobs that provides the local sales rep with pay that allows them a mid-class standard of living

    Many people see fights and rowdy disagreements as a bad thing. Look at the result. There’s a good taiwan for the taiwanese at the end of the day.

    The brawls? They fight and they are done. No long lasting court case to destry each other. You know what? If I were an MP, I would rather be punched in the face in the parliament when I say something dumd than let the public ill-will simmer and result in someone setting me on fire.

    Finally, some of the remarks said by some of our politicians deserve a good tongue lashing or a punch. a call for some spurs in my hide deserves a call for a knee to your balls.

    • seriously?

      haha low crime rate? streets are clean? only these 2 i have to disagree. you are only looking at the part of Taiwan that the tourism board wanted you to look at.

      you ever watch their news channel? they brawl and fight on tv but what you didn’t see is that they are also treating each other coffee behind the scenes. its all publicity. their media digs out every scandal their politicians have sometimes even before they enter politics, undermining the people’s trust in what could be a good leader.

      they can be doing a lot better for the natural resources and the advantageous geographical location that they possess.

      the only thing i feel is right about their system? freedom of speech and a open media(perhaps too open)

      • terence

        all i can say is, Taiwan is thriving not because of its politics, but in spite of its politics.

      • Roy

        When did you last go Taiwan? I did not know you were me and thus you knew where I went.

        I have watched the news channel and been to their not so clean part. Thank you.

        REF Media:
        Lets put things in perspective. The Taiwanese media digs dirt and show you the worse, because the media is competitive and shit stories sells, so you see the worse on TV. The opposite is true for Singapore. You touched on media destroying politicians and digging dirt? Are you living in Singapore? Does Steve Chia, Dr Chee and JBJ ring a bell? Its the same here except that only the oppositions get the dirt. Our media sing praise of my political leaders, so does the North Korean, the Nazis and Saddam’s media.. so are they better?

        REF Streets clean and crimes
        U think Singapore has no crime and the streets are clean? Have you been to Geylang and Little India? Were there not murders and crimes and rape too in Singapore? The last I check, Taiwan did not let an international terrorist off its detention centre.

        I suspect the crime rate per capital in Singapore and most cities are not very far off.

        SUMMING IT UP:

        I am not saying Taiwan is perfect or SG is super lousy. My point is, we are too happy with what we have right now even though we are short-changed. All the east Asian countries.. if you aggregate the good with the bad, all in all, most have caught up or surpassed Singapore in recent years. Singapore used to stand for something and was synonymous with certain qualities – efficiency, greenery, clean, crime free, reasonable cost of living. efficient public transport. Sadly the competition has caught up. Look at public transport, we used to be among the best. Now, if you asked anyone who went to Hong Kong, South Korea, Taipei, I will bet they will rank our public transport system 2nd class.

        Finally, dun take my word for it. Visit these countries and see for yourself.

        • seriously?

          the point i wanted to bring up is the media will dig dirt on any politician and not limited to one party’s scandal which i feel is lacking here. then again i put out a point that too much dirt digging and negative publicity on minor matters is nonconstructive and might even limit the potential of party or politician and that is what i noticed in their media. make no mistake that i do support a open media. period.

          Maybe we can debate over the cleanliness of the streets but that is not important. Crime rates however, are more of a concern. while the general population of Taiwan is warm and friendly, gangs and secret societies do exist on a bigger scale than in Singapore. you just have to make sure you don’t step on their tails and you probably will not notice anything.
          another thing is that i don’t really get how a detainee escaping from a high security center contribute to crime rate. it will probably give me a gauge of the capability of the country’s police force, not its crime rate

          but i do agree with you that Asia countries have managed to catch up to our standards fast enough and I’ve recently been to HK and their transport system is very much like ours. i would very much like to continue this discussion with you except that it has deviated from the focus of this article and my first comment which is about how we should not follow the author of this article and slam the PAP unreasonably.

          about the credibility of my opinion on Taiwan, i have relatives in Taiwan that i regularly interact with. then again if anything will shuts me up, it would be Terrence’s comment.

          • Roy

            I suspect the scale of Taiwanese crimes could be due to their size. By proportionality…

            The capability of the Home team now, reflected through the MSK saga is a sign of the things to come. If your cat is complacent and weak, your mice problems will worsen in the future… thats my point

  • PSD

    We Singapore still has so much to learn from Taiwan.

  • seriously?

    noted roy.

    i guess it’s not only our Home Team is getting fat. seems like the wallets of our ministers are bursting as well.

  • LJ

    So what are the opposition’s real policies?

  • Thumbs down

    Terence,

    Very disappointing to see you adopting the histrionic tone of your other two editors. I always thought better of your writing, but it’s evident that you’ve since torpedoed everything you learnt in J school.

    I mean, what’s with the bloody holier than thou attitude you’re adopting here? You really come across as a first-rate armchair critic immature blogger throwing a tantrum. If you want to play-act a journo by going down to the NSP presser to do an interview, what’s with your verbiage?

    “What shall I call you then? Uncle Meng Seng? Pops? Granddaddy? Koyok Seller?”

    If you wanted to rant you should have saved yourself the bus fare it took getting down to NSP’s office.

    The other two jokers (SH and Belmont) at least have an excuse. What’s yours Terence?

  • terence

    thumbs down, doncha know what editorial policy is?

  • Thumbs down

    Sorry Terence,

    I don’t, as a trained journalist, expect the people I ask questions of to answer my question with a question. Especially one that says absolutely nothing, like your inadequate response.

    Are you trying to tell me it’s your editorial policy to use worthless verbiage to prop up a poorly written report that’s a barely disguised rant?

    Seriously, you need to get your bunch of buddies together to re-think your wise-ass shoot-our-mouths-off Wikiepedia-research brand of “journalism”. You’re better than that Terence, try not to be Belmont Mandela-is-a-fascist Lay Lite.

    I wouldn’t employ someone who gave me a portfolio with New Nation material in it, as things stand. But as I’ve said, I’ve read and liked your previously much more thoughtful and sensitive work.

  • terence

    Thumbs down,

    you’re not the journalist here, and neither am I, since you say i’m play-acting. So I don’t really know what you’re talking about 😛

    New Nation does not exist to please readers like yourself. We know who are the kinds of people we want to reach, and we orientate our content in that direction. I won’t say we are wildly successful, but based on the feedback we’re receiving, I’d say we have some mild success.

    We know our mission, and what we stand for. And honestly, we enjoy what we’re doing right now, honest to goodness. Don’t like it? Well, you can always read TOC or NAR, if they’re more to your flavour. I’m sure you already do.

    So, call us trash if you like. We don’t really take ourselves too seriously after all. We’re not as “important” as these other alternative websites, nor do we pretend to be. But that is a good thing – we give writers room to explore, without weighing them down with our own political agenda or intellectual sophistry.

    New Nation is really a sandbox. We enjoy what we write, and we have fun with it. Funnily, I’ve didn’t quite feel that way in a past appointment. Success matters to me, but it doesn’t burden me.

    And I don’t consider imitation a bad thing. Writers imitate one another all the time. It is through this process that we discover who we are. And I’m not ashamed to say that I sometimes imitate the style of other writers, those who are radically different.

    You say we’re a bad portfolio. Well, we’ll let employers be the judge of that, eh?

    So, look down on us for being crude if you want. Criticise my fellow editors if you get a kick out of it. But I do like to have fun with what I do. That beats yoga, frankly speaking.