Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Over Reactions on Hougang by-election Analysis

Irresponsible Main Stream Media Ethics will enhance social contradictions

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


Richard Ong said...

With your assessment, I agree to certain extent but still disagree to your way of putting things across suggestively, like naming Nicole Seah (NSP) or Tay Peng Hui (PAP) in that manner. You should have made it known that it is as a hypothetical example and also commenting on Nicole Seah's response is as good as putting Nicole Seah and NSP in a spot. Abruptly ending NSP's intent to contest in the Hougang By-Election is one thing but eroding the faith and confidence of supporters of the NSP is another fact you didn't consider. The way you had put it looks as if you've put both NSP and Nicole Seah into a tight spot. You may have stepped down from the NSP CEC but this will look as if you have an axe to grind with the NSP & WP. Thus, making you becoming the target of criticism when your intent was actually good with an alternative view and that's not intelligent.

In any case, NSP in GE 2011 was really a disappointment. If NSP had done the ground work in Moulmein-Kallang, why back out just because to avoid a 3-corner contest? Why afraid of the 3-corner battle? Political unity may be a myth but a healthy 3 way contest can strung up confidence and strength of the NSP as well as a test of the good ground work that has been done. It's just as you've assessed in the Hougang precinct which can also be applied in Moulmein-Kallang.

It is a fact that NSP had not properly done their ground work, made it known and, be felt by the residents they've been serving or wish to serve. It goes to show the lack of commitment, lacking in the support of members and inability to allocate resources as well as gathering sufficient resources, to be ready to serve the Nation, and properly equip to carry out the promises as per NSP's Manisfesto. That's why the NSP had failed to even garner sufficient winning votes to have a NCMP seat compared to the WP or the SPP for that matter.

Why WP has managed to build up themselves and snatched Aljunied GRC from the PAP? It's not just Low Thia Kiang, Pritnam Singh or Chen Shao Mao but the commitment of the supporters of WP members, doing their ground work consistently, making known to the residents there and make it felt by them as well.

The same goes for the upcoming SDP. They were deemd as rogues and some even called Chee Soon Juan as a mad dog. But has anything stopped them from getting better and better, making known to the public as well as in the area where they're interested to serve in and let it be felt by the residents there. Just take a look at them and ask yourself what they've achieved and why the NSP cannot?

So what really and exactly happened in Moulmein-Kallang or even Whampoa for the matter. Why backed out at the last minute and why did Ken Sun loose? Why did good people like Yip Yew Weng or Steve Chia loose in those areas they had contested too? What has NSP been doing before GE 2011 and ever since after the GE itself?

Last but not least, in a way, glad of your intent to be engaged in political commentary as your insights may bring some new ideas, spur some strength within the NSP and let the NSP go forth with their aptitude to serve our country.

Be it you're reading this or anyone from the NSP, I wish all of you good luck in all of your endeavours and achieve the political stand so as to be the new alternative voice this Nation needs.

Admin said...

I have put it down very clear that these are possibilities and possibilities are just hypothetical. If I meant to put up suggestion for Nicole Seah to contest, I wouldn’t be putting up the caution at the end.

NSP has stated very clearly that they have not decided on the participation in Hougang by-eletion right from the start.

Even with the over reaction from netizens like you, NSP did not make any commitment on no-contest. Apparently, NSP did not feel that it is put at a spot at all.

I will reiterate again, it is only your imagination and speculation that I have any axe to grind with any parties. This is fabulous allegation with no basis.

You have contradicted yourself. If I really have an axe to grind with WP, for whatever fabulous imaginative reasons you have in mind, won’t I just go into 3 corner fight straight out with WP in Moulmein Kallang? Our ground work in Moulmein Kallang is well documented. We have distributed rice to the poor in that area.

You further contradict yourself here that you actually wanted a “healthy 3 corner fight” in Moulmein Kallang! Then why would you find my analysis of a possible 3 corner fight in Hougang as “having an axe to grind” with WP?

NSP withdrew from Moulmein-Kallang in goodwill, thinking that WP might have their strategy of fielding a strong team to contest there. Moulmein-Kallang is relatively weak because it is a 4 man GRC with Yacoob, who had not be able to solve the flooding problem, in it. But it was a total disappointment to us when WP sent a 3 tier team there.

I have stated clearly, whether it is back in GE2011 or even now or the next GE, I am not in favour of 3 corner fights. And I have to reiterate, it is only right for NSP strategically to test the relative strength between NSP and WP now in view of the fact that WP will repeat their way in the next GE to bulldoze their way into Tampines and Marine Parade. You will have to read my whole article again for proper context.

Your assertion right here is totally unfair to the hard work NSP has put in Moulmein Kallang. The fact is that NSP has DONE MORE THAN WP in Moulmein Kallang as stated earlier. You are being bias here. If there is no commitment, NSP won’t be distributing rice there. You are being Pro-WP. Can you state categorically what WP has done in Moulmein Kallang prior to GE2011?

With due respect, I do not think knocking doors and saying hello alone, with the probability of less than 30% of the time meeting Singaporeans will make them win. It does contribute but most importantly, it is the GE exposure and particularly the confidence Mr. Chen Shao Mao gave the voters in Aljunied that final boost.

You are being unfair to SDP and Dr Chee. You have deliberately ignored the spectacular improvement SDP has made in GE2011. Here again, it proves that your views are bias and full of prejudice.

It is totally unwarranted for you to attack other opposition parties in such a way. It seems that you are holding the view that only WP is the one working off-election period. That is just too arrogant to start with. At the very least, SDP has come up with its healthcare proposal recently. What concrete policy plans have WP come up with so far, in spite of the fact that it has 8 MPs and NCMPs in parliament?

The disappointment with WP is that in spite of having the biggest slate of MPs and NCMPs in parliament, WP could only come up with a logically unsound and badly prepared proposal for the Ministerial Salary debate.

Politics is not just about knocking doors and saying hello to residents on the ground. Or just organize activities for residents. As a party with MPs and NCMPs, it is naturally for them to have the advantage to carry out all these activities but this is not enough. Where is the beef of policy details?

Your comparison is bias and unjustifiable because you didn’t take all these into account.

Even with that, NOT ALL WARDS CONTESTED BY WP have solid ground work by WP! So why are you applying DOUBLE STANDARDS on other opposition parties?

Goh Meng Seng