Thursday, February 09, 2006

Time Bombs, Poisons & Election Strategy

Time Bombs, Poisons & Election Strategy

I shall not keep our reporter friends in suspense and I will write my thoughts on the recent "rare" sensational political sparks created by PAP and WP.

However, I am not going to debate on the "time bombs" or "poisons" as my party leaders, Mr. Low TK, Ms. Sylvia Lim as well as Mr. Tan Wui-Hua, have made our party stand very clear in the past weeks' cross fire. This may just disappoint my reporter friends. ;)

I am going to talk about the tactical and strategic angles that PAP is taking at the moment. I have postponed this article just to make sure that PAP's first wave of assaults is finished. There are a few multiple aims of PAP's first wave of assaults:

1) Use sensational phrases to dominate citizens' attention without the need to go into detailed explanation of the issues.
2) Try to dominate and set the main agenda for the coming elections.
3) To lure WP into the racial debate.
4) Discredit WP by using words like "irresponsible", "dangerous" etc.
5) To draw discord among WP's rank and file (especially the leadership), trying to break the party's unity before it could go to battle.

On the night where PAP ministers first fired at WP Manifesto, I received a "nervous" call from a friend asking, "Hey, what happened? What time bomb you have?" The impact of such sensational phrases used by PAP is pretty great in its initial period where the fine details of the issues are buried by "Time Bombs". There isn't any time for people to think and digest at all when the bombastic phrase "Time Bombs" is used. I think up till now, for those who do not bother to find out more about the issues or read our Manifesto in totality, will be captivated by such sensational words.

It is obvious from the PAP's publicized messages that they want to set the election agenda by narrowing it to the 4 issues. It saves them the trouble of guessing what issues we will bring up in the coming elections as well as diverting the real issues at hand. Strategically speaking, PAP is trying to choose the battleground it thought "BEST" suits itself.

More importantly, PAP tries to lure us into the racial debate. PAP has so far dominated each and every social political discourse on issues of race. They say racial issues are sensitive issues and it seems that PAP believes only it could put up the "RIGHT" views on these issues. Anybody who tries to bring up anything that contradict or challenge PAP's stand on local race issues or policies that concern racial nature openly, they will zoom in and all sorts of labels will be handled out immediately. Labels like Malay chauvinist, Chinese chauvinist etc, will be immediately tagged on those who don't agree with PAP's stand. The playing field is never leveled. However, it is precisely this "I know best" attitude that puts off many younger voters at the end of the day.

Obviously the main intention is to discredit WP as a credible alternative party as against PAP. But how successful is PAP in making such inferences? Asking WP to "modify" or "change" its manifesto is to belittle WP. It is of course an insult to a political party. If we really change our manifesto just because the ruling party is not happy, isn't that a mockery in the making? We are not a sub-structure organization of PAP! And it is an insult to our effort, work and research into all the wide-ranging topics mentioned in the manifesto. My assessment is that PAP has done more harm than good to itself in this short episode. I will explain later but lets look in PAP's most intriguing attempt in trying to break WP's leadership's unity.

PAP has first suggested that Mr. Low is being "misled" by some"?other members". After Mr. Low stood firm on our party's stand, it turns towards Ms. Sylvia Lim and "other individuals" involved in the launch of the manifesto. It is a common tactic of divide and conquer but apparently PAP was misled about the "conflicts" or "disunity" within WP! I have noticed that reporters have been probing about "potential disunity" in our party way back in early 2005. It seems that they are misinformed by some sources that there are disunity within the party leadership! And such misinformation has been impressed upon PAP but I must say it has bad judgement! If there is truly any signs of "disunity", PAP's tactic might have been effective in breaking us up. But PAP has underestimated the leadership of WP.

Diversity in views within a political party and its leadership is very common. What is not common is the system or process that could create consensus among the members. I would say that PAP has underestimated Mr. Low's leadership. They may see Mr. Low as a non-charismatic or non-assertive leader but that?s exactly where his strength lies. The consensus building process is a long and tedious process but at the end of the day, each and everyone involved knows exactly where we stand, why we make such stand.

There are reasons for the relatively rapid growth of WP under Mr. Low Thia Khiang. Many people would expect the frictions experienced by other political party in the process of growth to happen in WP. However it is how we manage such growth that is more important. Mr. Low and the leadership of WP has a strong common convictions, vision and maturity to handle such growth. This is where PAP has failed to understand. In fact, PAP's onslaught has made us more united than ever!

In view of the strength of WP, not only in numbers but also in mental strength and unity, PAP's first wave of assaults have failed miserably. The sensational phrases "Time Bombs" and "Poisons" are used to "stun" both the public as well as WP members in the hope to create doubts in its leadership. However, PAP has underestimated the amount of trust and confidence that we have in WP leadership.

In the eyes of the public, the main battleground lies in the middle ground voters. Those who do not bother to check our stand or manifesto, will believe and vote for PAP anyway. Those who will vote for us, will not be bothered by the "Time Bombs". Only those who are undecided or "vote swingers" in the middle ground will be intrigued to find out more. Besides, the issues chosen are really "controversial" in nature. There are already well established reasoning against the GRC and Elected Presidency while almost every Singaporeans in "contested" wards know how politicized RCs and CCCs. While for the HDB quota, at first sight PAP's reasoning may sound rational but at closer examination, one would find that such reasoning is weak.

Thus so far, responses from coffee shops or internet blogs or forums have not reached the "desirable impact" for PAP. It might have backfired in certain fronts and this is the main reason for the abrupt silence from PAP in pursuing these topics further.

Two main broad objectives have been set for PAP's first salvo but it has achieved little. Ironically, the unintended impact caused was a massive surge of interests in WP manifesto. The public interest was so great that we have decided to put up our manifesto online way before the intended schedule.

I would say that from a tactical and strategic perspective of a political party, PAP has set the right direction but it fails in making due considerations of the situation at hand. First, it miscalculated the strength and unity of WP. Secondly, they have rushed into firing off its salvo without full empathy on the public perception on the issues raised. They thought by using sensational phrases, they could get away from detailed deliberations on the issues at hand. It seems that when WP made its points about RCs and CCCs are over politicized, it strikes a strong resonance with the public at large. As for the GRC and Elected Presidency, I think despite what PAP wants the public to believe, most people from the middle ground understand the issues far better than they thought. PAP will suffer a backlash on their own credibility if they keep insisting that the suggestion of removing these institutions will constitute a "time bomb"!

I think PAP should take their own advise seriously: take your time, no rush, no need to come up with firecrackers in haste, go through our manifesto carefully before you shoot! Apparently they have fallen flat on their first salvo, I expect better fire or "bombs" from them. Finally, I would suggest that they drop the idea of trying to "break" us up. It will just make them look very silly indeed. They are grossly misinformed about WP all this while.

Goh Meng Seng


Soulgroove said...

Dear Sir,

You talked about the "few multiple aims of PAP's first wave of assaults..." specifically the (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5).

Actually, I see nothing wrong with it. PAP is a party like any other party. It wants to win the elections. It wants to contest with other parties. So what's so wrong with using sensationalise words, trying to dominate agenda, luring WP using such various tactics? All this is to try to create publicity to raise the people's awareness of the issue.

My point is, if the WP wishes to use these tactics against the PAP, it may do so as well.

On the race issue, you said, "They say racial issues are sensitive issues and it seems that PAP believes only it could put up the "RIGHT" views on these issues. Anybody who tries to bring up anything that contradict or challenge PAP's stand on local race issues or policies that concern racial nature openly, they will zoom in and all sorts of labels will be handled out immediately."

Actually, I think most people are well enlightened enough to evaluate for themselves whether the PAP policies on racial issues are sound or not. If any alternative is aired, and which is a better alternative than the PAP, that will shut the PAP up.

My point is, does the WP or any other parties have any other better alternative racial policies than the PAP? Please list them in point form and compare and contrast with PAP policies.

Also, you said, "Obviously the main intention is to discredit WP as a credible alternative party as against PAP."

Of course. If the WP is in power, it would also try to discredit other parties as credible opposition wouldn't it? I see no wrong in this.

You also said that PAP tried to undermine the WP's leadership.

My point again is, what's wrong with it? If an opposition really cannot stand up to PAP in this test, then it is not deserving of votes. Hence here, WP has done well to show party unity. So, well done.

If WP wishes to question PAP's leadership by discussing about PM Lee, SM Goh, and MM Goh, it may do so as well.

I also quote, "There are already well established reasoning against the GRC and Elected Presidency while almost every Singaporeans in "contested" wards know how politicized RCs and CCCs. While for the HDB quota, at first sight PAP's reasoning may sound rational but at closer examination, one would find that such reasoning is weak." and also "It seems that when WP made its points about RCs and CCCs are over politicized, it strikes a strong resonance with the public at large. As for the GRC and Elected Presidency, I think despite what PAP wants the public to believe, most people from the middle ground understand the issues far better than they thought."

My issue with these few sentences is, please don't be so vaugue.

"well established reasoning?" - please list down in point forms the reasoning.

"politicised RCs and CCCs?" - please list down in point form again what activities they do make them politicised.

"reasoning is weak?" - please list down in point form how the PAP's reasoning is weak.

"strikes a resonance with the public at large?" - please give accessible statistics or quotes from people how they agree with the WP.

"most people on the ground understand the issue far better than they tought?" - again, please provide statistics. Do a survey?

Finally, the point that I wish to make is, PAP has always pride itself on being the BEST. Only the BEST and nothing else. BEST in terms of people, BEST in terms of ideas.

For the WP or any other parties to compete on the same level as the PAP, they should strive to get even BETTER people, come up with BETTER ideas.

It is not enough to be an alternative. Are you a BETTER alternative?

Sad, but there is no room for 2nd best.

I hope to see a strong contest of ideas in the upcoming elections among the various parties.

I wish the Worker's Party all the best.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Soulgroove,

In fact I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with PAP's strategy as perse, as in my posting, I also say that they have the "RIGHT" strategy.

However, what I am saying is that they have not paid enough attention in assessing the issues and how the public perceives these issues.

Secondly, they are totally misinformed about the unity in WP and that is why they tried to draw discord but failed miserably.

As for the "details" that you want, I have already said in the very first few paragraphs that I am not going to debate in depth of the four issues PAP has raised. I am merely analysising what PAP is doing or rather, what strategy or tactic they are using and how they fail.

Of course it may look as if I am merely asserting they failed, but this is democracy, let the masses decide.

Anyway, there are some articles written in the local newspaper recently about the four issues. Some have discussed about these issues in their blogs and internet forums as well. I shall not elaborate what "established" reasonings are all about.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

MM Lee has said:election will be in the next...(year)..actually he wanted to say: next month or two

sHi HaN said...

Dear Mr Goh,

I seriously wonder why The Worker's Party wants to abolish all Resident Committees and Citizen Consultative Committees.

I believe that the Resident Committees and Citizen Consultative Committees do play a part in allowing residents to amalgamate.
Giving reasons like "communities would have progressed further without them" is not an ideal one.
The WP should not underestimate the importance and value of the Resident Committees and Citizen Consultative Committees.

In a nutshell, doing away with these grassroots organisations is a bad idea. As what Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen said, these organisations are the 'social glue' in our nation.

Anonymous said...

I am a Pro-PAP supporter in every election but the PAP's first wave of assaults pissed me off as it reminded me of NKF vs a few of good people who were intimidated and silenced with hefty defamation law suit.

ted said...

Maybe Soulgroove should read more news and their fine print to find out what Sitoh Yin Pin and Eric Low have been doing with THEIR grassroots organisation in Hougang and Potong Pasir.

My impression of it is that the RCs in those wards are exclusively the tools of the government and by association the party that forms the government. This is strange to me for the reason that I would think it is more appropriate that whichever party won the ward, would have the 'legal' right to utilise such organisations in those particular wards.

Therefore, if the PAP defends the use of such organisation, would it be not more appropriate that such RCs be renamed the 'PAP Residents' Committees" since the opposition parties can never seemed to be able to have access to such talented and selfless group of people?

ANd I would have thought for an intelligent young fella like Soulgroove, calling for something to be scrapped does not equate to putting something else up in their place. Of course, realistically speaking RCs and CCCs do have a role to play in the absence of Local Government organisations that exists in more developed western democracies, even some Asia democracies have locally elected office. Therefore in the absence of such local institutions, perhaps the RCs and CCCs would never be abolished but the points given by the WP do point out the inadequacy in their capacities (under reasonable assumptions) as a politically neutral grassroots organisation.

I would be pleased to be corrected on my assumption if it can be pointed out that grassroots organisations can only be controlled via the auspices of the representatives of the ruling party of the day.

Anonymous said...


I think WP is not disputing some of the contributions of those grassroot people in RC or CCC.

However, their point is that such grassroot organizations under PA which supposedly is "apolitical" by its constitution, should not be politicised.

Someone in the internet forums have just commented that by reading today's ST report on Eric Low who says that RCs and CCC is so important that he wouldn't achieve what he does (politically) if it is not for RCs and CCC in Hougang. So, is he saying that RCs and CCC is helping him to get a foothold in Hougang?

Soulgroove said...

Dear Ted,

I quote, "Maybe Soulgroove should read more news and their fine print to find out what Sitoh Yin Pin and Eric Low have been doing with THEIR grassroots organisation in Hougang and Potong Pasir." and "And I would have thought for an intelligent young fella like Soulgroove, calling for something to be scrapped does not equate to putting something else up in their place."

I think you may have a mix up. In my comment at the top of the list, I don't think I ever mentioned asking the scrapping for the RCs and CCCs.

The first main point of my long comment was that the WP can actually use the same tactics that the PAP uses and that there is no wrong in the tactics.

Mr Goh has already replied to my comment.

The second main point of mine was to ask Mr Goh to furnish greater details of the "established reasonings" that he mentioned. I ask him to do that because I thought mainly that it was unfair for him to criticise PAP and not the ideas that they come up with.

Mr Goh has already replied that it was not in his intention to provide the details as he has written in his post. For this, I admit not reading carefully the starting of the post and hereby apologise.

With regards to this RCs and CCCs issue, I agree with most of you and am of the view that they are indeed "politicised by the PAP" to a certain extent.

However, one can also not deny the good that they have done - mainly to organise activities for residents, provide help to residents, through activities maintain community and racial harmony. One must admit that they have done well.

The question is that if one is to do away with them altogether, what are the consequences?

Are we looking at NGOs to replace them?

Are the NGOs up to the task?

Have the NGOs been consulted whether they want to take over the organisation of activities?

Then again, another problem would be that NGOs would be organising activities on the NATIONAL scale, thus losing the closeness and friendship and the bond between residents of a few neighbouring blocks.

If, and I'm saying only if, the RCs and CCCs are scrapped, would we be losing ONE, I'm saying ONE of the MANY avenues, that has always helped us maintain social and religious harmony?

And hence would our social fabric become weaker?

Can anyone dare stand out and say we have a very strong social fabric now and that we do not need RCs and CCCs?

Wouldn't that be taking things for granted?

Criticising RCs and CCCs is one thing.

Thinking of BETTER alternatives to replace them is another.

Anonymous said...

ask for something to be scrapped but did nt put up alternatives i thought tth seems like the opposition hahahaha

ted said...

Dear Soul groove, please look up what Local government organisation means and the difference with NGO please.

I am not so sure about the maintaining racial harmony part, can you list what stuff your RCs did that explicitly maintain racial harmony? It seems your assertion is very vague as well. Do you or your neighbours look to the RCs to settle dispute? I recall some letter to the ST forum not too long ago expressing helplessness with a noisy neighbour and no one not even the police can help the letter writer. A counterpoint to your assertion perhaps?

And by the way, in your first post you did ask about some points for the RCs and CCCs,

Haha to the last anonmynous, your one liner is so profound and full of analysis, I tremble.

Anonymous said...

As usual, the opposition is again playing the part of the simpering, poor, self-righteous victim.
Look, politics is dirty. Who doesn't know this?
Its all about morally ambiguous strategies and schemes around the legal structures to gain an upperhand.
Do you expect anyone to believe that the WP. (or any other opposition party, or even, any other political party in the modern world)is "holier-than-thou" above this?
I doubt it.

Instead, i'd look at what's not being said. The well-furbished and renovated libraries, community centres and sports complexes; the money poured into Technical institutes and "non-elite" secondary schools; good (flawless doesn't exist ANYWhERE so don't bother whinging about the small stuff; we're looking at the general track record here) economic planning, housing plans (given our size restrictions) and national defense excellence that's got even people from other countries talking etc.
Perhaps, rather than mere "alternative govts", this is what the benefits of democracy is all about--a govt that understands that its position hinges on how it takes care of the general citizenry.
In this respect, there are a whole lot of other govts in other countries that can learn from Singapore (if you can't think of any, i suggest you travel or read more and look at other countries with the critical eye that you look at your own. so don't demand a list, i'm not gonna risk ruffling any feathers UNNECESSARiLY just to educate ya).

We live in the real world and let's be realistic. I'm not going to get caught up in ideologies and miss the big picture.

I've studied overseas and have travelled quite a bit and what I've seen and experienced makes me proud of this country and PAP. There are many people out there who want to live our lives and if you think that the govt has not played a considerable part in the peace, prosperity and practical amenities we enjoy, then i suggest you think (about it objectively)again.

Anonymous said...

AH well, I suppose, a well fed rat is a happy rat.

By the way you are not the only well travelled and educated rat overseas.

Anonymous said...

All I know about opposition in Singapore is that .... they just talk and talk. So far nothing they did to show votes that they done BETTER than the PAP.

Show votes please... dont just talk

Soulgroove said...

Dear Ted,

I quote from your first comment, "Of course, realistically speaking RCs and CCCs do have a role to play in the absence of Local Government organisations that exists in more developed western democracies,"

I'm sorry, I don't know what is this "Local Government Organisation" that exists in more developed western democracies. Care to enlighten me by giving specific examples?

I quote, "I am not so sure about the maintaining racial harmony part, can you list what stuff your RCs did that explicitly maintain racial harmony? It seems your assertion is very vague as well. Do you or your neighbours look to the RCs to settle dispute?"

Hmmm... Actually, I would think that organising activities among residents of a few neighbourhood blocks is helping to promote racial harmony right in itself. I think that's the desired outcome of all the interaction.

Activities like,
- Temple/Mosque/Church visiting.
- Karaoke singing.
- Short shopping trips to Malaysia.
- Long trips to popular destinations like China.
- Taichi classes.
- Tuition classes for young children.
- Screening of popular movies at open spaces.
- Health screening for the elderly.

These activities are some that can be found in my block. I think the notice boards at the lift landings are often neglected. They often contain quite some interesting activities organised by the RCs.

Of course there are many more examples, but all these contribute in one way or another to interaction and understanding between neighbours, be it same or different races.

I don't think people should look to RCs to solve disputes between neighbours. I never thought that was within their job scope. Please correct me if I'm worng.

Recently, I saw an advert on the NEL asking people to go to the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) to help them. I think that would be a better idea?

Interestingly, I saw an article in the newspaper today about a family complaining about the noise generated by karaoke singing in an RC.

While I pity the family and feel that the RC should really do something about it, it is really quite an indication that our neighbourhood karaoke singing is alive and well.


Anonymous said...

Well yeah, I'm pleased to say that I'm happy and well-fed but even better is the fact that I know that here in this society, there is a higher proportion of people who can also say the same (than say, in other countries with more resources but inferior governments).

Look anonymous, I don't come from a wealthy family to say the least so your snide comment implying that I'm some snob was..misplaced.
My opportunities in travel and education was a result of the opportunities I found in place in this society that allowed me to gain experiences that I might not have had (perhaps because of my lack of affluence, wealth, the right connections or even the correct skin colour) in another society.

Furthermore, why do you think I appreciate particularly the community libraries, sport complexes and centres; the financial(and practical) support given to not-so-high ACADEMiC achievers (just look at some of the ITEs and government 'neighbourhood' schools, and more recently, the attempt to abolish the concept of rankings in schools now) and the rather comfortable life in HDB?

Of course, I'm glad to say that I enjoy a more materially comfortable life than before, and what's wrong with that? It's not something that I had to manipulatively scheme and strategise for (after all, I'm not in politics), all anyone has to do here really, is work for it.

Like I said (or meant, at least), the government so far has PRoVEN its worth and credibility and frankly, Singapore is too small a country to risk a term under a lesser government.
Of course, I'm a P.A.P. supporter and, as outlined above, it's with good reason.

Anonymous said...

I read with a laugh at some of the comment here.

Frankly, I do not know what activities can improve or promote or incerease racial harmony. So can those people here tell me what activites can improve or promote Racial Harmony in Singapore. Next, use these points to FIRE at RCs /CCCs.

Can the WP list them too ?

Anonymous said...

Mr Goh,

Dun be discouraged! Many Singaporeans support you and your party! I know that you have brought out valid points in your manifesto which so many have failed to read here. Singapore cannot survive in a one party state because no one, not even the greatest man on earth, has a monopoly of ideas and "truth" Every system has plurality and our political system must reflect that. If in our daily lives we vote in a group, why can't we have democracy on a larger but more natural scale!

Dear all, please read
"Communitarian Ideology and DemocracY" by Prof. Chua Beng Huat and sociologists books about the RC and CC before we start sprouting like amatuers!!!

at82 said...

Well for those interested perhaps you all would like to have a look at trasy's article on the functions of our RCs and CCCs.

Anonymous said...

Dear well fed, happy, well travelled rat, I am happy you are happy with the physical infrastructure that PAP have provided. You are entitled to how you want to vote.

Anonymous said...

Dear Soul Groove, I am amaze you can equate organising activities with promoting racial harmony.

Pray tell me, do similar activities organised by other organisations have such a goal in mind as well?

Soulgroove said...

Dear Anonymous,

I am not equating organising activities with promoting racial harmony.

I am saying that ONE of the MANY desired outcomes of the organised activities is greater social understanding, hence greater racial peace and understanding, hence racial harmony.

I apologise if I didn't make myself clear.

Political aims aside, and I stress POLITICAL AIMS ASIDE, the aim of organising such activities as I listed in my previous comment is to let residents within the few neighbourhood blocks to know each other, interact with each other, hopefully become good friends with each other, understand each other.

It is simply an avenue that has potential to lead to greater things.

It's the fostering of community spirit It is the very basic unit of the fostering of the social fabric of society (besides the family unit that is).

Example, parents of children having tuition at the RC/CCC say hi to each other and gossip. Housewives mothers then get to know other housewives mothers. They share cooking recipes. They share their children's results in school. They even share who in the family voted for who in the latest Singapore Idol. They invite each other to each other's homes during festivities. They share ideas on how to cook great curries and differentiate between Chinese curries, Indian curries and Malay curries. They talk of the movie that the RC just showed at the open plaza. They ask their children to look out for each other in school. They discuss about their husband's health problems. Blah blah blah.

Hmmm... and I do not know of any other "similar activities organised by other organisations". Care to give specific examples?

ted said...

You sure are optimistic at what the RCs could possibly achieve and granted some of what you described are probably happening but I put forth the alternative that such happenings are only limited to only a small number of residents.

just remembered a point you made earlier, you said the RCs should not be held responsible for solving the poor letterwriter's problem, but the problem was with their Karaok sessions that is disturbing the resident! That is being very insensitive you know.

By the way, do you know the historical rational for forming such RCs?

Similar activities? You sure you are not living in the real world? Activitie like excursions to the Zoo, parks, are not the exclusive domain of RCs as well as conducting classes like cooking, flower arrangements. There you go, if you need more specific examples, I have nothing more to say because I will be nursing my aching sides from laughing too much.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear All,

I would suggest for those Anonymous posters to give themselves a nick, so not to be confusing.

I shall reply to some points made here:

1) What are the examples of "local authorities"? Please read my post

Basically in HK, it is called district council.

2) RCs and CCCs are no doubt "political" in nature. PAP has never shy away from this fact.

3) With CCC (please don't mix up with Community Clubs aka Community Centres), our social fabric hardly improves as well. So, what's the problem?

4) WP organizes its own grassroot activities in Hougang using its own resources. So the question is, why can't PAP as a political party?

5) In Hougang, there are "INDEPENDENT" Resident corners which are run by residents on their own initiatives, no need RCs or PA. So what does it say?

6)It is natural for people to vote for PAP because it has given them opportunities and scholarships and such. But one should vote for the betterment of Singapore as a whole, not just on personal bearings and emotions. Thus, the question is, what's the best development model for Singapore if PAP is going to be the govt? Should we let PAP monopolizes power, though in a benign way but risk making our system steering towards the NKF model? Power unchecked could be a very dangerous situation. It may not happen in the present or future two or three generations of govt, but nobody could guarantee that it will not happen to our children or grand children. Thus, you are voting not only for yourselves, but also for your future generations.

Goh Meng Seng

ILJ said...

You make many references to the strength of the Worker's Party. That may be so, but it is irrelevant in this context. What really matters is public perception. The PAP is obviously trying to paint you into a corner here using their most powerful weapon (media domination).

By saying that your manifesto is dangerous and asking you to change it, you are being forced to make a choice. Change, and you appear weak. Stick with it, and calls of recklessness will appear.

You are right to point out that they have tried to set the election agenda and there is a reason for that. One of PAP's strategies is really scaremongering, painting people as dangerous. It happened to Tang Liang Hong in 97, Chee Soon Juan in 02 and will happen again. By picking topics based on national security, they are really playing on people's fears.

Now the good news. If you can somehow move away from discussing just these few topics to more appealing ones, then maybe you guys will have more hope attracting votes. Also, take it as a backhanded compliment that the PAP is targetting the WP. It shows how far you all have come and I wish you all the best in the elections.

Soulgroove said...

Dear Ted,

I do not know the historical rational for forming such RCs.

As for the activities part, of course there are many activitiy specific related groups that cater to people.

Example, cooking schools, dance schools, martial arts schools, language schools, tuition centres etc.

My point is, are there any other organisations that functions similarly to the RCs? - that is, organising activities SPECIFICALLY for residents of neighbourhood precints of a few blocks of HDB flats.

The idea here is COMMUNITY, which implies closeness, spacial, geographical closeness and RCs function for the benefit of residents of clusters of HDB flats.

As I've said earlier, I agree with Mr Goh that RCs/CCCs/PA are indeed politicised or rather monopolised by the PAP.

And I acknowledge, as Mr Goh has pointed out WP can organise activities based on its own resources.

Why don't we see it this way. RC/CCCs = PAP Grassroots Network.

Can WP set up a similar grassroots network in Singapore? All over the island? I don't know the legalities of it but its a counter idea. Let the grassroots network compete for the residents?

I hope this discussion will end here if there are no fresh counter ideas. I think we are just running around in circles.

Dear Mr Goh,

I quote, "But one should vote for the betterment of Singapore as a whole, not just on personal bearings and emotions. Thus, the question is, what's the best development model for Singapore if PAP is going to be the govt? Should we let PAP monopolizes power, though in a benign way but risk making our system steering towards the NKF model? Power unchecked could be a very dangerous situation. It may not happen in the present or future two or three generations of govt, but nobody could guarantee that it will not happen to our children or grand children. Thus, you are voting not only for yourselves, but also for your future generations."

As you said, we should vote for the betterment of Singapore and not based on emotions, which I totally agree.

However, in your next few lines, correct me if I'm wrong, but I have the impression that you are assuming that having a PAP government is NOT for the betterment of Singapore. Why is that?

Of course, power unchecked is dangerous. But one should give credit where credit is due.

PAP should deserve to be the government and get voted in simply if it can prove that it is BETTER than the other parties. That it has BETTER ideas and BETTER people.

Similarly, I would choose the WP or any other party if it can prove that it has BETTER ideas and people than PAP.

I have the impression that what you're advocating is to vote the opposition simply because they are the opposition and can provide a check on the PAP government.

If that's the reason why people vote for other parties rather than PAP, then I think the other parties have FAILED.

Personally, the other parties will not convince me to vote for them if their only reason is, "Oh we provide a counter balance to the PAP in government. We can check them. We will make sure they are not corrupt or do any hanky-panky in parliament."

If I may say it plainly, that's an absolute rubbish reason.

I have absolutely no qualms having a PAP government for my children and generations after, if they can deliver what they promise - stability, growth, space, right decisions, incorruptability.

Similarly, I would support a WP government if they too can deliver what they say.

Its up to you to convince us.

P.S. I would avoid mentioning the NKF saga as I think it is quite different. NKF failed because

(1) the man at the top was flawed and introduced flawed practises. [no one can say that a PAP man at the top is definitely flawed and a WP man is not flawed]

(2) the regulatory body on top of NKF, failed to ensure that it followed the proper guidelines. [I don't see the electorate as a regulatory body. Rather, it is the patient. If it fails to get the treatment or the organisation fails to deliver results, it will boot the management out. Maybe my thinking is flawed. You may want to correct me here. I don't think there is any regulatory body for the government. Unless you count the President as one. But as most people would say, the President is a farce.]

Anonymous said...

so chee n tang n dangerous? joker !!!

ted said...

Dear SOulgroove,

it's quite easy to say that if there are no fresh counter ideas when the issue that people point out that the grassroot organisations known as RCs are blatantly only utilised by the PAP. This is a fault some people see because GRO are perceived to be non-partisan. A very easy proposal would be like what you and many others have suggested is for opposition parties to set up their own GRO in the respective wards. This does not require 'freshness and better ideas', it's called monkey see monkey do. Your penchent calls for 'freshness and bestest' is only an invitation or a bait for others to put your so call reasoning on a higher ground, I am tempted to call it a 'strawmen arguement' but I don't think that quite makes it. A letter writer to the ST forum have suggested not too long ago to disassociate all all GROs from the political advisors that are seconded from the ruling political party via the PA (if I remember the contents correctly),and calls for the GROs to work instead with the MPs of their respective areas instead, that's a pretty reasonable idea. So are you willing to take that or would you continue to call for 'freshness and better'?

As for the CCCs, the link at82 gave quite suffices at explaining their roles and how it was successfully subverted by the PAP, here's a short excerpt from the link:

"Many of the CCC members are also involved in the constituency?s PAP branch committee as well. As for the percentage, I doubt anyone has got the number (other than PAP themselves) but I would reckon it to be quite high."

You have much faith in the government to provide more space for your future generations eh, I find it quite amusing, short of landfilling the entire southern islands and or taking on militant expeditions, I wonder. As for economics, it is a highly suspect promise since it relies so much on the vagaries of the world economic conditions, do you have such short term memory? The tumultuous conditions of the 2001 and the subsequent so call recovery, doesn't quite hinge on the PAP miraclous tea leaf reading of the economy. But like you, I also believe in giving credit where credit is due, the latest Budget is indeed quite interesting especially when it goes against the spirit and grain of PAP mantra against welfarism. Of course the appearance and workings of the latest initiatives are vastly different from that of the western model, something which they (PAP) have decidedly been against in adopting. Whatever the case is, it remains to be seen whether such initiative lasts.

As for incoruptibility, there is something call rent seeking behaviour, which is not entirely not too different but not very illegal too. Making the 'Right decisions', it's your meat, someone else's poison, the same all over the world.

The NKF issue may be pertinent since quite a few figures from the PAP were involved. I would be worried to vote for Dr Khaw even seeing that he's such a sincere person and more effective Health Minister than Lim Hng Kiang aka Hairdo Lim, especially when he's easily misled for more than a few years over NKF. At any rate, PAP have no real top man, they have a group of top men.

And lastly, maybe you are very lucky, you stay in a place where your RC actually organises stuff, I think my RC only organises stuff when it coincides with certain festivals. Easy Peasy, even teenagers can do that in their own schools.

Soulgroove said...

Dear ted,

I'accept the idea of grassroots working with MPs of the area instead of those nominated by the PA (which of course is PAP controlled largely). To me, it is a BETTER IDEA.

Would just like to point out that you're mentioning the forum letter's idea while you have never really given any solid idea on the issue yourself in your comments above.

In today's globalised world, no one country is immune against the ups and downs of the world economy, no matter how good the government is.

The economic crisis(es) of 1997 and 2001 were totally unavoidable because they were due to external factors. What matters is that we managed to weather the storm better than surrounding coutnries in the region, showing more resilience than everyone else in ASEAN.

The point is, yes there was a downturn, but it was unavoidable, but we performed better than others.

I don't know what is rent seeking behaviour.

Of course, the minister (man at the top of the ministry) is ultimately held accountable for any mistakes that his ministry makes.

But one must remember that below him, there are hundreds of civil servants whose jobs, in this particular case, is to regulate the so many bodies in Singapore. Consistent overlaps by a particular person or group of individuals gives us an NKF scandal.

So the point is, while I'm not absolving the minister of all responsibility, I'm urging a more level head than a emotional one in looking at the NKF issue because of the much more groups of people involved, instead of pushing all the blame to any particular minister.

Oh, your RC only organises stuff for festivals? Would you want to know more about your neighbours? Create a greater community spirit? Easy! Join your local RC and work with them! Rouse up your lazy neighbourhood!


Only when you get your hands dirty then you would realise how difficult things are.

ted said...

Dear SOul Groove,

Well, giving ideas does not mean every Beng, Seng or Jane have to come out with a New one, good ideas are often not heard the first time. And I like to give credit due, I like the idea the letter writer wrote, I share his/her philosophy behind the idea, therefore I endorse and push it where it might seem appropriate to do so.

Thus far, I am glad you see the point of accepting other idea, but seeing that you don't read up much, I can't keep on explainng to you every point or concept that you don't understand. Maybe you can go and ask the kor kor or Che ches or the wise MP in your RC? I am sure out of so many of them are some scholars who would be able to explain things to you.

Well then we sure are lucky to have sat out those downturn with a rather large increase in unemployment and without social conflicts, is that what you mean by performing better? What you said is rather vague too. So maybe you can give specific examples?

Well, to be consistently misled over at least 2 years, is quite something, and based on your reasoning, the many civil servants are to be blamed as well since no one is doing their jobs properly of informing the minister. SO what are we paying those civil servants for? Well, given that we should not be too emotional, I also agree, so how do you propose this minister do to carry out his burden of responsibility? It seems that you are suggesting that everyone should give this guy some slack because of some XXX factor? I would point out that the Commander of the Commandoes had to resign (rather unwillingly I reckon) after the training death incidents.

Soulgroove said...

Dear ted,

I really don't like and am uncomfortable with your condescending way of commenting.

I would like to believe that I more or less argue on the point/comment/idea instead of personally attacking the commentor.

I don't think I've ever been rude towards you in my comments thus far and I don't think you should be that rude towards me.

I have totally no hurtful feelings towards you, yet you seem bent on giving hurtful comments towards me.

I am always open and am still open to other's people ideas, provided that they are reasonable, sound and solid, and not some fancy words tossed about in the air like some people would like to do.

I apologise if I was vague. But I still stand by the comment that Singapore was more resilient than our neighbours.

You may like to read more about the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 at

I quote, "The Singaporean economy managed to turn in a relatively healthy performance in comparison to her Asian peers during and as a result of the financial crisis, although its strong linkages and dependency on her regional economies still entailed some negative effects on her economy."

The slowdown of 2001 can be attributed to slowdown in the US, EU and Japan, coupled with the global electronics slump.

You may wish to

The minister's responsibility is to come up with new guidelines, proper procedures and correct processes so that such a thing may never happen again.

For the Commando incident, the Chief Commando did not resign. At least I don't think so. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I think he was immediately reassigned by MINDEF because he was implicated in the incident.

I would compare him to TT Durai and the Minister to Chief of Defence Forces (CDF). Now we know that CDF or even the Chief of Army (COA) didn't quit right?

What they did was responsible, which was to acknowledge their faults, find the culprits, establish new clear guidelines and proper procedures to follow and punish the culprits.

Punishment is up to the people in the Attorney-General's Chambers to decide how to prosecute them (TT Durai and others in the NKF or the Commandos) and we have no bearing on this.

ted said...

Dear Soul Groove,

I have made you uncomfortable? If that is so, I am sorry for the discomfit that my points have posed to you.

Ah well a little googling reveals this:

"MINDEF has also relieved the Commanding Officer of the School of Commando Training from command and has also appointed a new Chief Commando Officer to take charge of the Commando formation."

So he didn't resign, my bad. For the record, TT Durai have yet to be found culpable of any wrong doing by the AG Chambers, so I am rather dubious of your claims.

All in all no hard feelings eh.

wolong said...

u shld know what kind of a person he is

Elfred said...

Actually, the importance of political party is not on losing face, but getting right.

The manifesto sucks, and period.

If WP's reason for not being flexible on a manifesto is just to show 'strength', how strong can it be? If it cannot even be flexible to change on a manifesto, it cannot handle men.

Now if one fine day WP were to be incumbent on what alternative politics... for what to be a 'strong' party, won't it just like PAP who'd push on even if it is dire for change and what policy is completely disasterous? Mark my word, WP's behaving no better than PAP that it condemns and yet much lesser apt for politics.

You talk about check and balances... Your attitude to PAP's 'check and balances' is exactly the same as theirs to WP's. Hahahahaha...

Local politics... I see I laugh. :D

Anonymous said...

There is only 1 way for an opposition force to form in Singapore : wait for LKY (old age) and LHL (cancer) to die.

dhyt said...

Amidst all the hullabaloo over Thaksin, there was this interesting gem reported in the papers. Apparently, even if there were no other competitors, the sole candidate for a constituency would still have to face the polls. If he fails to garner at least 20% (not quite sure what is the figure) of the votes, then a by-election has to be called.

I thought that was quite a good way to allow everyone to vote, as well as a good way for the candidate to ensure that he really has the support of his constituents to represent them, even if he is the sole candidate.

Probably too late to implement for the coming polls, but what do you all think of the idea?

[The above was originally posted on YPAP's forum page]