I would have to criticise the Main Stream Media here before I continue. I believe the MSM is doing a great disservice to the Nation as a whole by being inaccurate in their reporting. Misquote or quoting totally out of context of a written article which resulted in misrepresentation is totally unacceptable. Especially so when such newspaper report could evoke strong emotional reactions from Singaporeans.
PAP has always lamented that the internet is full of aggressive, "irrational" anti-PAP views but unknowingly, it is PAP's controlled (or perceived "controlled") MSM which aggravated such sentiments. I would understand that for newspapers, they have limitation on space and thus, they normally will report on the gist of things. But most of the time, they chose things which are either favourable to PAP or those which will "damage" or attempt to "damage" opposition as a whole. This unhealthy practice will further polarize the population and enhance contradictions within the society.
For a start, the title chosen by the MSM is totally out of context. It is pure sensational choice. I have spent some time to translate my whole article to show the serious misrepresentation made by Sin Ming. I am just a non-partisan political commentator and I will refrain of "TELLING" any opposition parties what to do. My job is to gather all the relevant information and come up with a logical perspective, explaining and examining all the possibilities and outcomes.
In no way have I even "SUGGESTED" what NSP will do or not do. I definitely do not speak on behalf of NSP, least for anybody else. The fact that NSP has refrained from confirming whether they will contest in Hougang by-election or not, is a clear indication that they are giving serious considerations to that option at that moment. These are public available information.
The possibility of sending Nicole Seah to contest IF NSP so decided to contest is based on the PREVIOUS paragraph stating that any contest in a SMC, especially so in a by-election, is a battle of personal branding. Since NSP does not have much ground presence in Hougang, the only option left is to field someone with high public profile. Thus Nicole Seah would be the natural choice.
If you read my analysis in proper perspective, I have repeatedly shown concerns on the possibility of 3 corner fights, not only in Hougang by-election but also in Tampines and Marine Parade GRC as well in next GE. I have said that it is better for NSP and WP to sit down and negotiate an amicable solution. I have even cautioned that NSP and Nicole Seah should think thrice and make serious consideration about contesting in Hougang by-election because there would be potential political cost if this is perceived as unjustifiable by the public. However, the MSM deliberately left out these critical parts of my analysis. The MSM has left out the more "damaging" parts on PAP's misstep. This may be explained by the limitation of space but the further omission of these critical parts is totally irresponsible and an attempt to misrepresent view, creating unnecessary emotional response from Singaporeans.
Reactions from NSP and Nicole Seah
Up to this instance, Nicole Seah has declared that she will not contest. That is a good decision for self preservation. However, she seems to over react by making further comment on anyone who has the intention to contest in Hougang would mean that he would not be "taking into consideration the work of Worker's Party MP Low Thia Kiang in retaining one of Singapore's longest-serving opposition wards." (Quoted from her response on FB).
I was puzzled about this statement. Since she is a member of NSP CEC, she must be stating the stand of NSP. However NSP Secretary General Hazel Pao in the same newspaper report, said that NSP has not decided on the issue yet. This seems to be conflicting signals from the same Party's CEC.
I believe it is Nicole Seah's over reaction which resulted in such situation. She has jumped the gun and practically closed the door hastily for her party in the rush to deny any intention of contest. Especially so when there is already public outcry against 3 corner fight. In doing so, she might have unwittingly compromised her party's strategic position.
Over reactions from Opposition members and supporters
Opposition members and supporters have over reacted even before they actually read the whole analysis. Their over reactions are unwarranted.
Even if Nicole Seah contested in Hougang, chances for WP to lose would be slim. WP has 15% points advantage. The odds for Nicole Seah to lose her deposit is still very high. Even if the vote swing is 15% and WP gets below 50%, it may not lose because it will still get the highest votes. The only exception is for PAP to field a strong candidate with high public profile. Tay Ping Hui may be one.
Most of the emotional knee jerk reactions from netizens are irrational at best. Most of the time, they did not rebut any of the points made in my article. Do they oppose the possibility of NSP contesting in Hougang by-election because they just don't like it or what? Or that they believe opposition should unite? Is opposition unity really the CORE belief of these people? If so, do they think WP is at fault when it bulldozed itself into Moulmein Kallang with a 3rd rate team, destroying the chance of the NSP's scholars of breaking through in this fertile ground? What is their stand?
Most importantly, what do they think about the possibility of WP contesting in Tampines and Marine Parade in next GE? Would they raise their voice to oppose such moves? Or are they just "PRO-WP" at all cost?
Myth and Broken Dream of Opposition Unity
Some of those who reacted strongly raised the notion of "Opposition Unity". I would like them to ask WP whether they really believe in "Opposition Unity" and would they contest in Tampines and Marine Parade for the next GE.
I feel that people are just abusing the notion of "Opposition Unity". After a decade of participation in opposition politics, I would dare to say that Opposition Unity is just a myth and a broken dream. It is just that most people don't dare to admit it. Worse of all, some would just use it like a tissue paper: when it is to their own advantage eg. like keeping people out of 3 corner in Hougang by-election, they will use it. But they will just throw it away like used tissue paper when they want to step into other people's turfs.
Mistake me not. I used to be a strong believer of Opposition Unity until last GE. Last GE changed my perspective. The earlier supporters of opposition realize that we are now emerging into "Warring States" the better it is for them. So that they won't be utterly disappointed when they realize that for next GE, there will be lots of 3 corner fights happening around them.
What are the real issues of 3 Corner Fight in Hougang by-election
When I am writing this, I read again Wanbao said that I have changed my mind about the 3 corner fight. It is yet another bad reporting without much clarifications with the writer about the context. There are a few scenarios in having a 3 Corner fight in Hougang by-election.
First case, NSP or some other party send somebody without a strong public profile while PAP sends someone without strong public profile as well. WP will still suffer a drop of percentage votes due to Yaw-gate. How big is the impact, nobody knows exactly. My feel is it may suffer about 5% to 8% vote swing in this case. These votes would most likely go to the other opposition party. PAP may not benefit from the vote swing in this case.
Neither would PAP benefit from the widen vote swing if NSP Nicole Seah contested. The expected vote swing will be something between 5% to 20% but this is not enough to make WP lose because most of these votes would go to Nicole Seah, not PAP. WP will still win, regardless of whether it gets more than 50% of votes or not.
However, if it is Tay Ping Hui vs Png Eng Huat alone (without three corner fight), there is a danger of WP losing if the vote swing is greater than 15%. All these vote swing will go to Tay PH. Thus, if there is a third party contesting (not somebody like Nicole Seah), it may just help WP to win by diverting the vote swing away from PAP's Tay PH.
This is why I say a 3 corner fight may not be a bad thing at all for WP unless the vote swing is as great as 30%, then there is a clear and present danger of losing. This scenario may only happen (please note, NOT DEFINITELY) if there is a 3 corner fight with both PAP and NSP sending candidates with very strong public profile: i.e. Nicole Seah vs Tay Ping Hui vs Png Eng Huat.
A 3 corner fight will increase WP's stress tolerance from 15% to 25%. i.e. If the impact of Yaw-gate alone is as great as 20%, WP could still win with the third party diverting the vote swing away from PAP.
This is why Wanbao should not jump into conclusion that I have changed my mind or backtrack from my earlier view. They are on different contexts.
(I have deliberately left out one very unlikely scenario where WP will lose the support of the hardcore opposition supporters in Hougang.)
The Building of Civil Society
I have a talk with friends from the media recently. The first thing that was discussed is the present state of internet situation. The consensus is that internet is dominated by lively discussions and commentaries. However, it seems that irrational rantings, flamings and trolling have become a clear trend.
Before I engaged in opposition politics back in the early 2000s, I faced a dilemma on whether to contribute my time and effort in building a civil society or to try and effect change in the political climate first. Singapore is a unique place where the political climate has curbed the development of civil activism. Civil society will involve efforts of the academia, intelligentsia and such but political activities in universities and colleges are a taboo, unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.
Thus I finally come to the conclusion that engagement in changing the political climate via active participation in elections must come first for Singapore. True enough, with the past two General Elections, the awakening process has deepen. Active citizenry has been enhanced throughout the years. However, such development created certain problems like what we see in the internet right now. It has almost become a mob rule in the internet sphere.
Take for example, Mr. Baey has talked about the perception and pressure his son faced in school. Netizens started to attack him on that. Imagine if the same problem is raised by Mr. Chen Shao Mao. I guess we will only hear praises. That's the reality in Singapore. But this is not a healthy development for Singapore as it will deepen contradictions and increase the tensions between supporters of different camps.
This is why I have chosen to take a step back from political participation and to engage in political commentary instead. I hope to put up fair political comments. Even so, I am attacked with all sorts of name calling and speculations. My views are seen with much contempt.
I would like to reiterate this, I do not have any bad feelings about any opposition parties, not even PAP. Political parties are just platforms and different people will play different roles within. There isn't much strong emotional attachment, so to speak, be it love or hatred.
But once you take stand, you will read everything, anything with a tainted glass. The Main Stream Media has unwittingly enhanced such contradictions and divides by its reporting methods.
I only hope that the silent majority, the middle ground voters, would start to engage actively in providing views and moulding public opinions. Else, we will end up with a situation where extreme views will start to split out Nation apart causing deeper social contradictions.
Goh Meng Seng