Piping hot candidates roll off the PAP assembly line

Posted on 22 March 2011

Men in White maintain consistency and quality control with new products politicians.

By Fang Shihan

Photo: Straits Times, PAP

THE stale smell of pre-election fever wafts in the air. Voters stand patiently in line for their turn at the menu while the state propaganda machine revs into motion.

“Desmond Choo! Ong Ye Kung! Janil Puthucheary! New! Fresh! Hot! Just out of the fryer! Only 1 serving each, special offer!”

Like any self-respecting McDonald’s outlet, the PAP takes great pride in maintaining consistency and quality control in terms of policies, ideology and of course, its politicians. Order a pack of fries anywhere around the world and chances are, they’ll look, taste and smell exactly the same.

A winning formula that must be replicated repeatedly. Because customers return only for the exact same experience they’ve had before. As the old PAP adage goes: “You must love us. Otherwise why would we get re-elected time and time again?”

How about: “We don’t really like you that much, but you’re the lesser of two evils”.

Fast food outlets dominate the F&B industry in lower-income neighbourhoods because it’s relatively inexpensive and satiates hungry workers quickly, giving a temporary energy high.

Likewise, the 45-year reign of the PAP has been based upon a guarantee that the PAP candidate will be the safer, less politically expensive choice (he won’t take risks with policy or potentially give you a suckerpunch out of the blue). The intentionally designed 9-day campaigning period also provides a temporary rush of free choice or even chaos, satiating a growing call for freedom of expression.

Such long reigns, especially with a quickly evolving population and landscape such as Singapore, are usually difficult to maintain. However the PAP has done it remarkably well. Not by oppression or by quickly adapting to a changing environment, but by having a good marketing department.

The ruling party claims that the new candidates offer new voices and more diversity. It also claims a willingness to adapt to the times.

McDonald’s supports a healthy lifestyle too.

Let’s see how much diversity the three newbies provide.

Desmond Choo, Ong Ye Kung and Janil Puthucheary have emerged from labour, labour, and in labour respectively. Maybe give Janil extra labour points for working in KK women’s hospital, in addition to being the son of a formerly detained Barisan Sosialis politician.

The PAP’s merely maintaining the stuff that got them elected in the first place. It was a winning formula after all.

They all score points for being more leftist than the current PAP.

And boy does the Straits Times know how to play it up.

“In what is believed to be the first, two are sons of former leftist politicians… They were keen to stress that despite being on the wrong side of history, their fathers supported them fully in joining the PAP”. Ye Kung is the other second-gen leftist.

Pray tell. How does this make them different from any other pseudo-leftist PAP politician? Oh wait. They’re hardcore labour because they have a bloodline to boast about. Really?

Let’s do a quick comparison with the PAP man most criticised for being overly ‘capitalist’ – Mr Mah you-made-HDBs-unaffordable Bow Tan. Mah started his career at the Singapore Bus Service and was also formerly Chairman of NTUC Comfort (1983–86) and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Singapore Institute of Labour Studies (1990–2002). Oh dear, it seems that even the most ‘right’ of the ruling party is… left!

Perhaps in the event of factionalism, the PAP would split into: left, lefterer and lefterest.

To be fair, there are some differences between these 3 guys and the rest of Team White. Desmond Choo, clearly playing in response to opposition accusations that the PAP doesn’t care for the poor, plays Santa Claus by advocating more help for the underprivileged. Unlike previous brave men who have ventured into Hougang and emerged pants down, he attempts to out-teochew, out-chinese-ed Low This Khiang.

Oh, and he tears up during the interview with ST too. What a nice boy and what a drastic change to the cold uncompassionate image of the PAP.

It’s all about the image. The product doesn’t ever change. Like how McDonald’s claims it’s adding diversity and nutrition into its meals by selling apple slices with caramel dip. Or worse, the revolutionary chipotle shaker fries.

As the old saying goes: All the same kuan one (kuan can be replaced with ‘pattern’).

Some food for thought: should consistency, quality control and replication be condemned? Voters at the ballot box need to choose between clearly differentiated parties with different identities and values. The PAP’s merely maintaining the stuff that got them elected in the first place. It was a winning formula after all.

More New Nation content on GE2011 here.

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  • BryanT

    Good one, good one, SH!

    I didn’t fall off my chair, but my dentures came loose (from laughing).

  • Terence

    haha, i’m sure opposition members are not happy you didn’t fall off the chair.

  • Belmont Lay

    You sure own a big chair there…

  • Joa

    “Desmond Choo, Ong Ye Kung and Janil Puthucheary have emerged from labour, labour, and in labour respectively.”

    Lol, good one!

  • crescit

    Tony Blair – New Labour

    David Milliband – Next Labour

    NTUC – Not really Labour

  • crescit

    March 23, 2011 at 12:41 am: Goebbels.

  • hapless

    Nice article – keep them coming.

  • joel

    The only”Labour”these newbies are imagining now is lining up to collect their salary after being MPs.Fat hope !They will be shamefully beaten anywhere they choose to stand .Hhehehheh i wonder whether they had practice enough kissing babies !Hehehehheh

  • Desmond Choo

    The real reason why I quit police force to join NTUC is because I was rejected by Public Service Commission in 2010. I failed to make the cut for the elite Administrative Service, you know, where the pay package is big. If I’d become an Administrative Officer in 2010, I would get 8-month bonuses this year, on top of a 5-figure salary each month.

    But there is another route, I can also make such wealth and more by joining NTUC and running for MP.

    So, of course I understand how the poor feels. I feel poor amongst my scholar friends.

    • Jim

      This is NOT the real ASP Choo!!!

  • Jonathan Lee

    Sure, that might not be the real Choo guy but I’m quite sure his thoughts are well echoed in the post.

  • George Yeo

    The typical pap pups who expect to walk in at around election time and waddle into parliament on a free ride under the party’s grc skirt.

    Singaporeans should give these doggies a smart kick in the rump at the ge and send them yelping back to bark between the legs of their handlers. That would be a wake up call for them to talk and behave humbly to their real masters, the people. Teach them this lesson at a few ge and they will soon learn to act and behave humbly towards the people they claim to serve.

  • Orwell

    Do not criticise the latest batch of Napolean’s dogs. They will be extremely well fed and will protect Napolean’s family and the pigs, no matter what it takes.

    They might even be childrens of Snowball, Bemjamin or Boxer but they are not stupid like their fathers to let ideology or believe stand in the way of riches.

    • http://newnation.sg Shihan

      too angsty. not cool. :(

  • Thumbs down


    For someone who likes to go around criticizing other websites and other commentors in your comment columns for being too angry, you really know how to play to the crowd when occasion calls for it. Good to see you’ve thrown principles to the wind to get your 15 minutes of fame whinging. Sadly, it will be hard to justify your website’s existence now that you’re really not saying anything different from anyone else online.

    Actually, it’s sad but you never were.

    • Belmont Lay

      ooh… o.O you’re such a troll

    • Anonymous Coward

      I fully agree, maybe we should have just stuck with what ST has always been doing, cheering on these selfless men turned politicians to serve the nation and of course, it has never been about the money.

    • http://newnation.sg Shihan

      Got meh?
      I’m not sure I know how to play to a crowd when as you said, there never was one.

      • http://newnation.sg Shihan

        But thanks for being one of the crowd ar. :)

        • Belmont Lay

          Argh! Troll!

  • NSman

    This is ultimate. Is he trying to mock our NS contribution? I have served the Army for 6yrs and is still doing my reservist. There are many who lost their lives during our peacetime training. I myself have attended 4 furnerals in my active time. Beside the perished, there are also numerous badly wounded and countless permanently injured. This is fact. These are the sacrifices. Now, who is he to think he has right to say his job is compared to NS? I remembered in the furneral of one soldier, the mother screamed at Gen Han(COA then) on why are the citizen’s son dying, where are the ministers’, officials’s son?? I am not saying some one has to die to prove a point, I am saying they do not feel it and probably think that NS is some monkey camp like the Malaysian type.

  • Wiseupgal

    I think the comment, “….it’s sad but you never were…” really hits home, right?  That’s why you come in, all defensive.  Such an apt comment, that sums it all up.  When a real person comments, you get defensive.  Otherwise, you make up fictiious commentators to post very obvious comebacks to those articles that you deem “Onion-ish”.  How sad.  That’s why the comment, ‘…it’s sad but you never were…’ is apt for not only you, but this whole site.