Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why Contest Ang Mo Kio GRC?

Rally At Ang Mo Kio Cheng San (Photo by netter)



Many people have asked me this question, "Why do you want to contest AMK?" Even before nomination day, quite a number of supporters have "cautioned" me of the idea in contesting Ang Mo Kio GRC. I could only smile at them basically because there are reasons that I could not reveal at that time.

The initial idea of contesting AMK was mooted way back end of 2002 by Shin Leong and me. It was I that made this suggestion in the coffeeshop in Hougang. Somehow, somebody got winds of it and started to discuss it in private as well as Young PAP forum. I took the risk by making arguments for this idea but with a catch in it, if and only if we have the resources. I have since then openly discuss the idea so much so that many people thought that I am calling a bluff basically because no one would believe that for such strategic matters, I would want to discuss it so openly. Somehow, it has come to people's mind such happening is "impossible". Even though the journalists and reporters have picked up bits and pieces from the internet forums, but it seems to me that right before nomination day, very few of them really think we would be "stupid" enough to contest AMK.

It was a successful (reverse) psychological campaign in my opinion. However, I must admit that to suggest such strategic option back in 2002 must be the wildest poiltical dream. As the initiator of this idea, I was prepared to be the one challenging AMK GRC, partly because AMK IS my home ground. But with the strength we have back in 2002, we could hardly mount such operations as there are really short of candidates, manpower and resources.

My initial strategic considerations include the following:

1) PM Lee needed a "personal mandate" and we should put pressure on him while he was still relatively new as the Prime Minister.

2) To teach PAP a lesson that gerrymandering with electoral boundaries will one day, backfire on them. They could try to redraw the boundaries, let "heavy weights" swallow up unfavourable grounds and bet on the alternative parties not wanting to contest in these constituencies. Ultimately we want to show them that by doing so, they will just have "indisgestion" eventually.

3) To keep the new PM busy during the 9 days of election campaigning. The logic is that back in 1991, the then PM Goh CT was too busy with his own battle in Marine Parade and thus, the surprise win of 4 seats by the opposition. In 1997 and 2001, Marine Parade was not contested and Mr. Goh CT was so free to go around and campaign for his other comrades.

4) By sending a young team to the PM's ward has many advantages. It will provide the perfect training ground for them to gain experience and political capital, simply because everyone will remember those who challenge the PM in their youth. Furthermore, it provides the perfect contrast between WP and PAP: for WP's young and new candidates, they dare to dream and do the seemingly impossible tasks, instead of hiding behind "heavy weights" to fight the electoral battle. They are not afraid to lose and dare to take the challenge, work towards a long term political road map.

There are other considerations by the party as a whole which I do not have the liberty to reveal here. The above points are based on my personal views.

How successful is the strategy? In my opinion, the contest in AMK has achieved most of my initial objectives. In fact, I was surprised by PAP which suggests that they could get more than 80%. By a mere conservative calculations that we did, due to the fact that AMK GRC includes 3 important WP or opposition strongholds, we expect PAP to get at most 70%. The 3 parts includes Cheng San, Yishun South (which was cut out of previous Yishun Central) and Jalan Kayu. By averaging out using past election datas, we should get about 30% of the total votes. Getting 3% more is a plus to us. I guess PAP is totally out of touch of the ground to even suggest "high 80%" or make our team lose election deposits.

PM Lee was caught in a tight situation. Its a catch 22 situation. If he campaigned vigorously as he did in the first two days (going to MRT station at 6 am to shake hands), it would give people the wrong impression that he took the challenge from the young ones too seriously. However if he did not campaign hard enough, the PAP team might not fulfill its aim of 80% and above! In the end, what we observe was that other ministers (who has no contest in their wards) were deployed to help out with the campaigning in AMK. Whatever was the situation, PM Lee was unable to go around other wards (especially the Aljunied GRC) to campaign as he did in the 1997 & 2001 GE.

The contest in AMK GRC did change many people's perception of WP, especially when the term "suicide team" was publicised but turn around as "better not to fear death as to be kiasi".

But this come with a price: PM Lee gets his own personal mandate eventually. We did not manage to cross the 35% as I have hoped for. With this 66% mandate, PM Lee will be able to consolidate his position and grows stronger in the next few elections. At the very least, he will not be termed as the "uncontested" or "walkover" PM in Singapore and he has earned his own battle stripes in 2006 GE.

If WP has not contested in AMK GRC, there will always be a question mark hanging around the new PM: he would have become the "walkover Prime Minister" which will not be good for Singapore's international standing.

Thus, looking on the bright side for Singapore as a whole, it is really a win win situation for us all, including WP and PAP. Of course, we will still have to solve the problem of "walkover ministers" and "walkover MPs" but at the very least, we do not have a "walkover Prime Minister" to start with.

Goh Meng Seng

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree it was a good strategy. However, ultimately WP will not want to just solve PAP's problem of walkover 'whatever..'. WP want to win in every contest and must show that it is putting all efforts to do so.

Anonymous said...

I notice there is a lot of patting on the back of how well WP has done in this election. But, let's not get overdose of it and forget winning election is another totally different ball game. Now is the time to give AP more suggestions what they could do in the next 5 years.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi there,

My personal view is that our results aren't that fantastic at all but just within our expectations. And I agree, winning is totally a different ball game.

I would say that we are not here to solve PAP's problem of walkover ministers, but rather, the PM ward is a good training ground for our young budding members.

From the national perspective, it isn't good to have walkover ministers. We got to do something about it sooner or later.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the AMK strategy! It was ver y well thought out.

However, I want to ask Mr Goh this question,

Were there areas in Aljunied GRC that the votes were over 50% for the WP? Did it meant that without the construct of the GRC, WP might have at least two more MPs in parliament? Thanks!

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi there,

I am not at liberty to disclose detailed results at precinct level because we are all under the oath of secrecy.

So please bear with us.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Goh for clarifying!

Isn't it ironic though that PM announced precinct level for AMK GRC, saying support is even throughout?

One law for PAP, another law for WP?

Anonymous said...

Mr Goh, may I advise that that you not discuss election tactics in the internet. You are doing the WP a disservice. Keep these things behind closed doors. Every comment will be dissected and eventually used to strategise against you. Why offer the juggerbaut even more ammunition against you? It also sounds like you are stoking your ego since it was 'your' strategy. Arrogance is not a virtue. Not a vote winner surely. Stick to the issues pls.

You might want to also work on your English. The WP is now seen as a credible Oppositoon Party and you need to do everything within your means to be a credible candidate with the capacity to contribute at a very high level if needed.

WP supporter

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi there,

A good strategist will always change tactics accordingly to situation. What is relevant to this election may not be relevant to the next elections. :)

Well, sorry that I project the image of having a big ego on this one. I have never intended that way, especially so when there are people who view the contest in AMK as a "stupid move" that wasted resources. I am responsible for such stupid moves.

And yes, it is a delimma on my part whether to put up this posting because it involves a little bit sensitivity. But please be reminded that what is being put up here are only my point of view; there are OTHER considerations made by the party which I am not gonig to reveal here.

Thank you for your feedback, I will work on my English.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

Now, I understand that the 2nd point of your initial strategic considerations " 2) To teach PAP a lesson that gerrymandering with electoral boundaries will one day, backfire on them........" was the reason that they basically did not redraw the boundaries at GE 2006.
I think they will cut away those area that have more opposition votes out from AMK GRC at next GE.
Or make the AMK GRC by different part of sg, one from the east, one from the west n so on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Goh,

Please feel free to blog. IF WE truly want an open and transparent Singapore, than why are we asking the opposition to be secretive about things? In my opinon, the opposition should be more transparent to the PAP, put the PAP to shame.

We must change our mindset and make WP a truly democratic party that every Singaporean can participate in. We must resist the PAP notion of secrecy and autocracy.

Mahjulah Democrasi!

Anonymous said...

Openness and Transparency are excellent attributes to aspire to. Mr Goh is already doing well on both counts if his openness to criticism is anything to go by. That already puts him ahead of a lot of PAP candidates. But I think strategy does require some secrecy. I am concerned that public discussion of election strategy could be used to formulate a PAP defence against the next challenge on AMK. A major strength of the WP this time was their discipline. WP should keep striving in the direction that they set themselves in GE 2006. We will suport you.

WP supporter

Anonymous said...

Hi all

It is only right that during elections, all wards are contested. Uncontested wards should not automatically be walked-over. Rather we should encourage more political participation so that all wards have candidates competing. The gerry-mandering attempts and our PMO-linked Elections dept are such system that discourages political participation.

The suicide squad has done well. Hope to see everyone again next term.


WP Supporter turned member
Steven

Anonymous said...

i think you are too kind to LHL. This is politics!

Anonymous said...

pap is too arrogant. to want to make the suicide team lose its election deposit? just hearing it makes my blood boil.