Groundwork, good candidates and consistent branding

The Workers’ Party pulled off a great victory in Aljunied group representation constituency, taking it with 54.7 percent of local valid votes cast. Despite boundary changes that took a Workers’ Party-friendly precinct away and the grafting on of another area relatively new to the party, they still managed to secure a vote swing of 10.8 percent from their 2006 general election result in Aljunied.

In so doing, it demonstrated the importance of long-term retail politics. It would seem that unless an opposition party is prepared to work the ground for years, it cannot realistically expect victory.

Sylvia Lim for example, has worked Aljunied ward for eight years, visiting the area fortnightly even when elections were far away.

I will come back to what I think this election shows up as ingredients of success further down, after a brief discussion of the overall results.

Overall

There was a vote swing of 6.5 percent against the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the general election just concluded (Polling Day: 7 May 2011), which is at about the top of the 3 to 6 percent range that analysts, including myself, had predicted. The PAP garnered 66.6 percent of valid votes cast in 2006, but only 60.1 percent this time.

In my earlier post Will the morning after see 86:1? I wrote:

opposition victories in two or three GRCs become good possibilities should the overall PAP vote share fall to 56 percent

and:

The bottom line is this. Unless overall PAP vote share falls to 60 percent or less, we cannot expect significant opposition gains, least of all in GRCs.

‘GRC’ stands for group representation constituency.

And this is exactly what happened. At 60.1 percent of valid local votes cast, the PAP’s vote-share was just at the tipping point, and we saw one GRC fall. If it had dipped a further four percentage points to 56 percent, East Coast GRC would also be vulnerable (Workers’ Party scored 45.2 percent there).

As for single-member constituencies, I wrote:

If the PAP’s overall vote share hovers at or slightly below 60 percent, perhaps four SMCs will go over.

‘SMC’ stands for single-member constituency.

On the face of it, I was wrong. Only Hougang went to the opposition. However, Potong Pasir and Joo Chiat were extremely close, with opposition vote shares at 49.6 percent and 49.0 percent respectively. It was a matter of luck that these two did not tip over as well, with victory and defeat separated by only 114 votes in Potong Pasir and and 402 votes in Joo Chiat.

Detailed results

For future reference, here is a table of the results, by constituencies:

The row for Tanjong Pagar is blank because this 5-man GRC was uncontested.

The opposition’s worst performance was in Hong Kah North SMC, where the Singapore People’s Party’s (SPP) Sin Kek Tong got only 29.4 percent. The second-worst was Radin Mas SMC, where the National Solidarity Party’s (NSP) Yip Yew Weng got 32.9 percent.

However, the worst individual result was the SDA’s Secretary-General Desmond Lim, who found himself in a three-cornered fight with the Workers’ Party and the PAP in Punggol East SMC. Lim got only 4.5 percent, thus losing his election deposit.

That the Workers’ Party’s Lee Li Lian obtained nearly ten times the number of votes Lim got points to the importance of party branding and messaging, which I will touch on below.

The next table shows the results grouped by opposition parties:

Improvement from 2006 by party

Did all opposition parties enjoy a vote-swing in their favour equally? No. Some parties did better than others, as the next table shows. Here, you’ll see each party’s vote shares (2011 versus 2006)  in the areas it contested.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was the most improved. But was this mostly the effect of contesting in Holland-Bukit-Timah this time when it did not contest in this constituency in 2006? Not really. If we look at those constituencies it contested in both 2006 and 2011, its improvement was still remarkable.

In Bukit Panjang SMC, the SDP increased its vote-share by 11.3 percentage points from 22.8 percent to 33.7 percent in 2011. In Sembawang GRC, the party increased its vote-share by 12.8 percentage points from 23.3 percent to 36.1 percent at this election.

The Workers’ Party improved its vote-share by a respectable 8.3 percent in the constituencies it contested.

The picture is rather mixed for the spin-offs from the 2006 Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA). Of the spin-offs, the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) did best improvement-wise, though I’d say its 8.9 percentage point improvement over the SDA’s in 2006 may be less than it seems. After all, Chiam See Tong himself polled 55.8 percent in Potong Pasir SMC that year. And  you would also have noticed that Sin Kek Tong, who did poorly in Hongkah North at this election was also from this party.

The Reform Party is new and was not yet formed in 2006.

Strong candidates are important

The positive effect of strong candidates can be seen in the results of the Workers’ Party and, in its own way, in that of the National Solidarity Party (NSP).

Where the Workers’ Party as a whole had an improvement in vote-share of 8.3 percent, in Aljunied it climbed 10.8 percent. Aljunied was where the party fielded its A-team that included well-known party leaders Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim, top corporate finance lawyer Chen Show Mao and star speaker Pritam Singh.

Look closely at the NSP and you can see the same effect. The party’s best constituency performance was in Marine Parade where Nicole Seah captured the imagination of netizens. However, she and the party was also helped by widespread revulsion against the PAP’s Tin Pei Ling in the same ward. In its reverse way, this proves the same point — the importance of good candidates.

Then of course, there is Chiam See Tong. Despite age and the effects of a stroke, he worked his magic not only in his old ward of Potong Pasir where his wife almost won, and in Bishan Toa Payoh — a new area for him — where he led his GRC team to a respectable 43.1 percent.

I am not sure about the effect of SDP’s strongest candidates; in fact I’m not sure whether their “star catches” are as strong as they appear.

Consistent branding and clear messaging

A facile way to explain the SDP’s remarkable improvement would be to speak of its rebranding, and to think that its new candidates were what kicked that off. I don’t think it explains enough. I think the key move was actually its sustained investment in new media, allowing it to reach a new audience directly. Couple that with a party stand that combines substance with principled clarity, and it attracts a second look from citizens. It is this second look that has in turn attracted a new slate of candidates with good credentials, but I am not yet convinced that these new candidates have anywhere near the same traction and voter appeal that the Workers’ Party’s best candidates have.

Nonetheless, that the party has gotten where it has speaks to the importance of clear branding and messaging.

The Workers’ Party has powerful branding as well. This is demonstrated in the way it crushed the SDA in a three-cornered contest in Punggol East, and in the way its performance was consistent in all constituencies where it contested. Everywhere, it was above 40 percent. That said, part of the reason was that it chose to fight in areas that it had spent years in retail politics, stretching from Nee Soon to Changi.

Groundwork

Nothing substitutes for working the ground persistently over a long period of time. Not only did it pay off in Aljunied for the Workers’ Party, it also paid off in East Coast GRC. There. the party got 36.1 percent of the votes in 2006, but this leapt up 9.1 percentage points to 45.2 percent in 2011.

Another area where the party cultivated intensively was Joo Chiat. In 2006, it got only 35 percent. In 2011, it nearly took the ward, with 49 percent, though having a younger, brighter candidate in Yee Jenn Jong would probably have made a big difference too.

What the results show is that where a party has not invested in groundwork, it can expect only the base level of very frustrated voters. At this election, I reckon that this is about 30 percent. Good candidates might lift the figure a little. Clear messaging might lift it a little more. But to win, time and effort has to be invested among residents. After all, how are voters going to believe that you will really serve them if they don’t see you until election time?

70 Responses to “Groundwork, good candidates and consistent branding”


  1. 1 paul 8 May 2011 at 06:46

    Hi Alex

    An impressively fast turnaround on a detailed analysis. Since we’re in wonkish mode, I wonder whether you think a stint as an NCMP also contributes to the attractiveness of an opposition candidate. The opposition have poo-poohed the NCMP system during campaigning, but it would be worth giving some consideration to the role that Sylvia Lim’s stint as an NCMP played (or not) in improving the attractiveness of her and her colleagues to voters. If one concludes that it does help, then that would indicate that the in-coming NCMPs might also use their positions as a platform for securing future electoral success, alongside, of course, working the ground.

    • 2 patsianlow@gmail.com 9 May 2011 at 10:28

      Good point, and supports the importance of retail politics. Being an NCMP is another way to imprint the candidate’s presence in the hearts and minds of the voters. At the NSP rally I attended, there was reference made to an NSP stalwart who previously turned down the post of NCMP due to his principles – there was a skeptical reaction from the audience to that.

      Thank you Alex for this insightful analysis. It goes a long way to explaining to my family why NSP lost Mountbatten SMC despite an incumbent that was, in my view, ineffective.

  2. 3 Roy Tan 8 May 2011 at 06:49

    I am heartened that in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, despite playing the homophobia card, Vivian Balakrishnan and his team only managed to secure about 60% of the vote. It shows that an election candidate’s sexual orientation is becoming of less relevance to the electorate. In this respect, this election has been a watershed for the LGBT community. We can expect more gains, and perhaps more openly gay candidates, in future General Elections.

    • 4 drmchsr0 10 May 2011 at 09:09

      Personally, I’m less impressed.

      I was hoping for at least 40% of the votes, not 39.9%. In fact, I was very, very disappointed in the results, considering the demographics.

      While yes, a candidate’s private life should not be the focal point of discussion and decision-making, the fact remains that Balakrishnan’s results did eventually do their job, at least to the people he was preaching to.

  3. 5 sarek 8 May 2011 at 07:56

    “The second-worst was Radin Mas SMC, where the Singapore Democratic Alliance’s (SDA) Yip Yew Weng got 32.9 percent.”

    Yip Yew Weng is from NSP.

  4. 6 Chris Lim 8 May 2011 at 08:33

    Hi Alex
    Thank you very much for your informative analysis. On behalf of the many Singaporeans living abroad, I would like to express my gratitude at your unwavering hardwork and committment to providing a fair and objective analysis of the political situation in Singapore. Your website is one of the first blogs that I check immediately after I wake up on Sunday 8 May in Australia.
    With many thanks
    Chris Lim

  5. 7 Gard 8 May 2011 at 09:41

    Good analysis, Alex.

    At the same time, I was wondering why the same analysis cannot be used upon the incumbent. After all, if talking about ‘retail politics’ the incumbent has the best machinery, media infrastructure in place as well as candidates. As for groundwork, it is not as if the monarchy has been negligent. It did not possible that the monarchy, notorious forward-looking, was ignorant that Aljunied would be the hot spot back in 2006. It also doesn’t take a genius to suspect where the hot spots would be in GE2016, as well as long-term global resource inflation and China’s 5yr Plan going to do to Singapore’s economy.

    Privately aside, can you point me to the source to get your previous assertion of “SMRT Corp, made a fat Operating Profit of 21.4 percent last financial year” in your Pap5 article?

    “Operating profit in FY2011 decreased by 0.8% to $195.6 million as compared to FY2010.”
    http://www.smrt.com.sg/Upload/201142917534693880.pdf

    You don’t have to publish the above para. I am inquiring as I am now trying to read financial statements. But if you could append the link on Pap5, I’d be grateful.

  6. 9 mjl.leong@gmail.com 8 May 2011 at 09:44

    I agree that groundwork is important but it is difficult for the non-ruling political parties to do that as they will never know if the ward they are working on will be completely carved up. No one would bet against Joo Chiat being absorbed into Marine Parade GRC in the next electioin.

  7. 10 harishpillay 8 May 2011 at 09:49

    Good review and analysis, Alex.

    What I am more concerned with now is how the PAP will respond to this thumping. Yes, we have a tripling of opposition seats in parliament compared with the last one. What I hope is that they will be able to bring in private member’s bills and amendments and garner support from the marginal PAP MPs.

    We need reform in many areas:
    a) independent electoral commission
    b) a constitutional court
    c) full and complete accountability of GIC and Temasek
    d) full and transparent statement of ministerial compensation
    e) review of the town councils act

    those would suffice for today. many, many more needs to be done.

  8. 11 sitarbluecat 8 May 2011 at 10:18

    So now, with the election results, we have not just progress toward a first-world parliament, but also this incisive and informed analysis available online as early as 10:15am (as I’m reading it), the morning after.

    Yet another illustration of the productive synthesis of democratic politics and new media.

    Thank you, Singapore–from an American who’s been living here 15 years!!

  9. 12 tanak@hotmail.com 8 May 2011 at 10:26

    Gerrymandering really works against the candidates trying to work the ground.

    Do you think Joo Chiat will remain an SMC next time around? Or if it wille even resemble the JC of today?

  10. 13 Yamasam 8 May 2011 at 10:28

    While the national popular vote showed a swing of 6.5% (66.6% to 60.1%), it does not paint the true picture given that there were so many walkovers in 2006.

    A better gauge would be to compare constituencies where there were contest both 2006 and 2011. With the exception of AMK and PP, there is approx a 10% swing to the opposition.

    For WP’s victory in Aljunied, lots of credit has to be given to Sylvia Lim. Her 8 years of pounding the ground in this GRC has paid off handsomely. I fully agree with you that groundwork plays a big part if any opposition wants a breakthrough. Swing voters can only be won if they are familiar with you and your party during the lull between elections.

    And the gestation period may be long, 8 years in the case for WP. I wonder which other political party is prepared to invest so much time and effort ? The positives from the WP’s victory in Aljunied is that it can be done, and that the gestation period may be shortened considerably as a result of this breakthrough. If any political parties harbour hopes of doing well in the next GE, they should review their performance quickly, strategise and hit the ground again immediately.

    Of course, their effort may not be rewarded should the PAP govt redraw the electoral boundaries again for the next GE. But this is the risk opposition parties have to take in order to achieve further breakthroughs.

  11. 14 Anon 8 May 2011 at 11:09

    Hi Alex

    Despite the pain Singaporeans were inflicted by the PAP policies over the last 5 years, I see the swing to the opposition parties between 6-13 percent as not making a dent in the number of alternative voices in parliament. Why this hesitation, is it something visceral or rational or both?

    The expectation was that another 1-2 GRCs and another 2-3 SMCs will fall to opposition hands. What level of sweetness on the ground is required before we can see more alternative voices? 2011 GE had so many factors that were working against the incumbent but the voters appear to be still willing and ready to give their mandate to them.

    Star catches and speakers, working the ground, consistent re-branding and messaging provide some explanation why Singaporeans did what they did on the 7th. In all likelihood, the majority of the ordinary voters still prefer the devil that they know then one that turns up around the GE period…

    And we can only wait and see if there will be any transformation of the incumbent party from the 8th onwards.

    Very interesting analysis and considering that it must have taken you the whole morning of Sunday to write this up, many thanks and I am appreciative of your efforts.

  12. 15 Jon 8 May 2011 at 11:12

    Two former principal private secretaries failed in their election bid (Tan Jee Say and Ong Ye Kung), while the 27 year old wife of a principal private secretary sneaked into parliament (Tin Pei Ling). That’s the irony of the GRC system!

    • 16 drmchsr0 10 May 2011 at 09:13

      And what about Lee Bee Wah?

      She sneaked into Parliament after the 2008 Olympics without anyone raising eyebrows and then left after 2 years.

      I’m surprised that no one raised the issue of Lee Bee Wah getting into Parliament while mentioning Tin Pei Ling.

      • 17 yawningbread 10 May 2011 at 09:33

        Get your facts right. The above comment actually does not pass Yawning Bread’s comment quality standard, but I am being extremely lenient.

  13. 18 Yen 8 May 2011 at 11:32

    My own thoughts on the general election: Kudos to the WP for their massive wins in Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC as well as their respectable vote shares in their other areas. Seems this GE may be the start of the Rise of WP as a viable alternative party if they all play their cards right

    Special mention must be given to Yaw Shin Leong whose victory i feel has important implications of the WP as a whole and needs to be further looked at by everyone else. Perhaps it was the stupidity of his rival, but Yaw’s bigger vote share must also be a result of his credibility as a candidate. This shows he also has his own support base and is not riding on the support of the previous veterans (i’m looking at you Lina, do everyone a favour by rejecting that NCMP seat pls, but i digress)

    Also considering his age, he could also be a possible future WP leader. This also means the WP has a self renewal, even if they aren’t voicing if our officially. PAP, take note, this is now u introduce ur new candidates and give them credibility, not parachute them into GRCs

    Finally, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha deserves better support and Dr Vivian should be the one making a defeat speech, not George Yeo. Maybe the demographics are just unkind to his social worker credentials. It is quite sad he does not even have enough for even the possibility of an NCMP seat. we could do with more men of his oratorical prowess and a little more of his idealism. Anyway the man, along with nicole seah is confirmed destined for greater things.

  14. 19 whatu1 8 May 2011 at 11:46

    One point to note. SDA Sec Gen Desmond commented WP new candidate just “parachuted” into the Sengkang SMC ward and managed to garner more votes than him, while he was working the grounds.

    To me, it is important to project the correct consistent message which candidates are petitioning on. Compare to WP, SDA does not have the same consistent message bringing across to the citizens. It helps if the candidates have charisma and likability. But at the end, the voters really want to know can you answer their problems.

    The only thing now for the opposition is to build on what WP has achieved in Aljunied GRC’s win and put up A-Team in areas which they have a strong following. Please work harder to gain the confidence of the voters in the area from today onwards to 2016.

  15. 20 yuenchungkwong 8 May 2011 at 12:27

    in the following 5 years, donations and candidates will flow towards WP, leaving the other parties to fight for scraps; they might have done better than last time, but WP has done so much more better, and smart money/people would find it a more worthy investment

    I myself dont take those popular facebook candidates so seriously; they will find advertising and other business opportunities now coming their way too tempting to concentrate on political activism; it is so easy to turn up for the next election without doing much grassroots work in between; not everyone has the spirit of Silvia Lim and Sitoh Yih Pin

    • 21 TrollBasher 8 May 2011 at 15:10

      I wouldn’t be so dismissive of Nicole Seah. She is a natural born politician. She got her 15 minutes of fame due to her age and the Tin Pei Ling effect, and used it to the max. Now she is recognizable and quite well-respected. I expect we’ll hear more of her.

    • 22 drmchsr0 10 May 2011 at 09:15

      …Or Nicole Seah.

      She’s pretty much going to work the ground for the next 5 years.

  16. 23 Nicetalkbutwhat? 8 May 2011 at 12:29

    SMC with high oppositions will be absorbed. You cannot expect Yee to walk Joo Chiat for 5 years and that area will no longer be around. It happened too many times. You also expect Potong Pasr to disappear. So you expect Lina to walk 5 years and then cannot even contest.

    Looks like GRC will be the targets in the next GE, expect huge changes to the rules of the game. With so many GRCs under performing below 60%, even slicing the pie and sharing wont work anymore. All the hot spots are in the EAST and the WEST people seem to adore the pappies.

    • 24 Gerald 8 May 2011 at 14:12

      I dun think the people in West necessarily adores the Pappies, it is more of the West not having any credible alternative options. RP seems forever damaged by it’s internal divisions and KJ’s high handedness, whereas NSP and SDP are still relatively new in their contested wards.

  17. 25 Sad case 8 May 2011 at 13:07

    Is there still hope for local born Singaporeans in 2016 given that PAP will increase the new citizens numbers drastically by then? On one hand i’m glad it’s not 87-0 but on the other, would 6 opposition members be effective to block disadvantageous policies to us from being passed?

  18. 26 Fox 8 May 2011 at 13:13

    This elections does not bode well for the PAP. They should expect more vigorous challenges in the future from the the opposition who will field even more high-quality candidates as more opposition-minded Singaporeans would feel encouraged by today’s results to step forward. Naturally, it is very likely that they will gravitate towards WP.

    Furthermore, this election has also shown that having a minister to head the GRC does not guarantee a place in parliament. This means that the new PAP MPs, white bread slices such as Heng Swee Keat and Sim Ann, all cut from the same cloth, will have less time than the predecessors like Lim Swee Say and Teo Chee Hian, to mature to fight the next election when the opposition can be guaranteed to be even stronger.

    One glaring weakness of the WP team is that they lack rapport with the Malay/Muslim community. The opposition is still looked upon as a very Chinese-d party that has no relevance to Malay/Muslim interests. This will definitely cost them if they don’t make the extra effort to reach out the Malay/Muslim community. The Indians and other minorities will go along with the WP because there are no specific Indian interests that warrant extra minding. Not true for the Malay/Muslim group.

    • 27 whatu1 8 May 2011 at 14:37

      Please remember the basis on the formation of GRC was drawn up to dilute the individual power of the different opposition parties then as parties like Workers Party consists predominantly Chinese; PKMS consists predominantly Malays and smaller fractions were build along community grounds. It has taken almost 20 years for these lines to be broken as candidates with caliber no longer join a certain party due to community lines. So it has shown we as a Nation has grown beyond this barrier with this win by the WP in a GRC.

      Would sincerely like to congratulate all Singaporeans for showing to the government that a GRC is no longer untouchable base on community grounds.

  19. 28 sgcynic 8 May 2011 at 13:21

    I noted the high percentage of voter no-show cases in many constituencies, some as high as 10%. What happened?

    • 29 ThePasserby 8 May 2011 at 14:23

      I was a polling agent in Radin Mas, which was carved out of Tanjong Pagar GRC, a constituency that has had walkovers for 4 GEs, I think. Some of the voters were obviously first-timers. There were many 40-year old election virgins.

      Anyway, based on the numbers published in the Straits Times, the percentage of absentee voters is about 8.5%. I think it can be explained by the high number of the elderly in that ward. Some of the elderly who did turn up to vote didn’t even know how to vote. They don’t read the papers, nor watch TV and don’t know what to do with that ballot paper. So I won’t be surprised if some of the elderly who live alone in single-room flats even knew they had to vote.

  20. 30 Anonymous 8 May 2011 at 13:34

    I hope that this election will spark the beginning of a more differentiated opposition. It is clear that the workers’ party branding adds 3 to 10% to the opposition candidate. On top of good candidates and ground work, they also need to be in the centre on the political spectrum to appeal to wavering supporters. In my opinion, only WP and SDP are political parties of quality in the opposition but SDP suffers from its negative media image in the past and it remains too edgy for mainstream voters. James Gomez also said that walking the ground is old fashion politics, how wrong can he get coming from WP in the past? NSP needs a major shift in strategy and perhaps a leadership change. I thought it had a good chance of winning Mounbatten but I guess it needed to do more ground work and improve it’s branding. If the PAP shifts gears during the next 5 years to ameliorate most of the frustrations felt by voters, the ground might be less sweet for the opposition. There lies the greater importance for working the ground!

  21. 31 James Tan 8 May 2011 at 13:38

    Can anyone enlighten me how a party works the ground of a constituency that it is not in charge of, especially if it wants to contest for an election? The incumbent party will have the advantage of resident committees (RC), facilities/venues and grassroot support. Must the opponent party rely on door-to-door legwork? How does it work?

    • 32 whatu1 8 May 2011 at 15:03

      When an opposition party hit the grounds, they can knock on individual doors in the existing electorate, identify themselves and just have a chat with those who can spare time for them. If any citizens bring up their concern, they will take note, try to raise questions in Parliament via NCMP.

      How many doors you have to knock, how many people reject you, how many issues can you hear, all these takes time.

      I don’t envy politicians in the opposition as there is really no glamor during the off peak period. But in order to break the machine, there is a need for the special “personal” touch.

      See what the machine is saying about “we have heard what you have to say”…

  22. 33 Its a Small World 8 May 2011 at 13:40

    Alex,

    It looks like Singaporeans want a small world from a big party. What does that say about us?

    How much worse do things have to get before Singaporeans decide enough is enough?

    Was the campaign message too mixed? Would the opposition have done better if they stuck to a few things like ministerial salaries and immigration issues?

    Party loyalty is hard to overturn especially in Singapore that has not had alternatives in the last 50 years but with so much unhappiness over so many things that have stripped us of so many rights, it is puzzling that Singaporeans still crave the status quo.

  23. 34 Robox 8 May 2011 at 13:54

    There is only one way that I can explain this elections to myself from the POV of opposition parties: except for the result of SDP being the most improved party, this was a pro-incumbency elections for the opposition parties.

    1) Hougang was won because it is an incumbent ward.

    2) Aljunied, apart from being a longstanding weak ward for the PAP, also enjoyed the pro-incumbency advantage; while people were more willing to say goodbye to Chiam See Tong presumably because of his health status, they were not quite willing to vote Low Thia Khiang nor Sylvia Lim out of Parliament.

    But with the WP’s Aljunied team, Singaporeans also got an unheard of and never-talked-about opposition MP in Muhd Faisal Abdul Manap.

    But not Vincent Wijeysinghe, Tan Jee Say, Michelle Lee, Ang Yong Guan, James Gomez, John Tan, Nicole Seah, Kenneth Jeyaratnam, Gerald Giam, Eric Tan, Benjamin Pwee, Wilfred Lueung, Jimmy Lee, Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss, Hazel Poa nor Tony Tan. (I honestly had not heard a single thing about second best performing loser, the WP’s Yee Jenn Jong, but he must have some voter attractiveness to have done as well as he did.)

    The GRC scheme definitely weeds out talent, if you ask me, so that the Singapore Parliament can continue to wallow in its mediocrity, the WP’s objective of a “First World Parliament” with its 6 new MPs, and quite possibly a couple more NCMPs, notwithstanding. Tin Pei Ling will stand as a case in point, though I personally don’t feel that she is worse than any other PAP MP.

    3) The best performing loser, Lina Chiam, also enjoyed incumbency advantage.

    In other words, nothing has changed despite a swing of votes against the PAP and towards the opposition parties: The Singapore Parliament will continue to be an exclusively right wing one.

    • 35 whatu1 8 May 2011 at 14:52

      I think the questions all Opposition Parties have to ask themselves now is how did WP won Aljunied? I have to disagree that Muhd Faisal Abdul Manap is unheard of. Just ask the Malay community in Aljunied. I am sure he has put in the time together with Sylvia, Show Mao and Pritam to walk the constituency to hear the people and understand their issues. No party can garner votes base on one or two in a GRC. As mentioned in WP’s rally speeches, the team had set up walking Aljunied not long after the last election in 1996. 5 years of walking is a long time to serve in order to see the fruits of labor.

      As compared to the other candidates in the other parties, they even admitted if they had more time, they would have made the fight even closer and may have even won a couple.

      If the same team of opposition can sit down and work out who is still in and who has given up, start hitting the streets in the electorate they are looking to serve, get to know the people in the community better, see where there is a need to step in, maybe and a big maybe, we will see more wards moving towards a more balanced parliament.

  24. 36 XYZ 8 May 2011 at 13:54

    Hi Alex, how do you think having a minister who has done something “wrong” (for example Mas Selamat, flooding, HDB) affect the vote outcome?

  25. 37 andi cheok 8 May 2011 at 13:57

    hi alex,

    did the accusation by george yeo’s team by their election agent on the ‘planned reception’ cost them a good % of votes?

    my gut feeling is yes, what is your take on this?

    andi

  26. 38 ThePasserby 8 May 2011 at 14:03

    My memory of the 2006 GE is hazy, but was there a similar groundswell of resentment and disenchantment with the PAP as this GE?

    This factor, I believe, is also very important in the swing to the opposition. It is because of the unhappiness with PAP that WP’s argument that parliament needs an alternative voice is able to gain so much traction.

    I believe that the PAP was caught flatfooted this GE by its complacency and smugness. I’m quite sure PM Lee will make good on his post-election promise to make changes within his party. Should the PAP succeed in ameliorating the frustrations of the populace, I’m worried that ordinary Singaporeans, ever proud to consider themselves practical and pragmatic, would give the PAP a stronger mandate and forget about the need for alternative voices. They’d think that since the PAP has changed, there’s no need to sacrifice future upgrading projects just for the sake of having a co-driver, since the driver is able to keep himself awake now.

  27. 39 Poker Player 8 May 2011 at 14:10

    “Couple that with a party stand that combines substance with principled clarity, and it attracts a second look from citizens. ”

    A bit cruel, but this means that compared to the WP with the exception of the SDP, the other opposition parties are “WP-lite”.

    I am not sure how “confrontational” entered our political vocabulary. It’s not in the political vocabulary of the West, South Korea, Taiwan and Hongkong. It shows how we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned by the PAP on what is considered acceptable political behaviour.

  28. 40 Robox 8 May 2011 at 14:14

    I could have added Alec Tok and Teo Soh Lung to the list of more deserving opposition candidates who should have won.

  29. 41 Fox 8 May 2011 at 14:22

    It is very likely that WP will recruit more high-quality candidates in the next election. Remember, the PAP failed miserably to recruit people from the private sector. So, there are a lot of well-qualified people who did not join the PAP but remained on the sideline to get a better feel of the contest before deciding. Many of them would have also had extensive overseas experience and are more sceptical of the PAP’s policy objectives.

    • 42 Ben 8 May 2011 at 15:57

      Speaking for myself as an overseas Singaporean who has lived in the United States for a number of years, I’ve seen and continue to see the kind of politics they have over here in the States. Honestly, I can say I feel very “pek cek” for the political system in US. You may have heard recently that the US government almost shut down because Democrats and Republicans could not agree on this year’s budget i.e. the budget for the year that is already 6 months past. This budget fight was over a paltry 40 billion USD. Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is next year’s budget deal, where they will have to raise the debt ceiling to keep operating, bringing into play the gargantuan question of how to reduce 14 trillion in debt. You can imagine how large the task is, and how much fighting will need to be done in the process. Before you can say “gee whiz”, it’s the presidential elections again, and people are busy politicking and worrying about their seats. You get the idea: very little time and effort goes into doing the actual business of governing.

      The reason I bring this up is to highlight the scenario of a gridlocked 2-party (now some say it’s 3-party) government. It is extremely painful to watch these legislators do business. Every bill they introduce is macham like an encyclopedia that no one can vet fully because there are some many clauses and exceptions added to bribe this congressman or that senator. There is no concept of incremental improvement (like in engineering) because once a dominant party gabra and give way to the next one, the next guy will have to hurry up and push their policies through before they kena defeated again. If you can excuse my language, watching them make law is like watching a constipated person moving his bowels. It’s not a pretty sight.

      I really do not want to see Singapore’s political system ending up this way. If we come to this, we will really truly “sink”. I am, however, keen on seeing significant numbers of opposition members organize in Parliament, something like a 1.5 party system. I want a ruling party (whether PAP or someone else) to have the upper hand while being constantly kept on its toes by a strong opposition about half its size. Despite all of PAP’s insecurities and fear-mongering, a strong opposition is necessary to keep our system strong and robust. As pragmatists, they should be the first to realize that a lack of exercise and challenge will breed a fat and ineffectual ruling party. A strong opposition is like a personal trainer to keep them accountable and fighting fit. BUT … we need to prevent it from degenerating into an American style gridlock. We cannot afford their silly shenanigans, there is too little room for error, and I honestly do not think I’m spreading a baseless fear when I express this concern.

      P.S. I talked a lot about US. But there are also a lot of problems of government in the UK, Greece and some other EU countries, many resulting from the spendthrift ways of successive governments in pandering to the electorate by giving out welfare like candy. Eventually when the chickens came back to roost and the coffers were empty, the government unfortunate enough to get left holding the baby has to introduce sudden and drastic fiscal measures, resulting in social unrest that you see on TV. I hope to God I never see that kind of thing happening in Singapore.

      • 43 TrollBasher 8 May 2011 at 19:02

        Singapore is vastly different from the US, there are no huge regional disparities that affect voting patterns and ideological affiliations. And no, not all the problems in the EU stem from giving out welfare, it’s a myth. Singapore can achieve sustainable growth and healthy political stability with a multiparty system if it moves closer to the Scandinavian model. You can be prosperous and free at the same time. Too much government control makes Singapore LESS stable in the long run, not more. When PAP invoked Belgium as a country living without a government for such a long time, they conveniently omitted pointing out that 1)Belgium is divided sharply along ethnic lines and 2)its economy is doing pretty well and the system doesn’t collapse just because there is no government.

      • 44 Poker Player 8 May 2011 at 22:06

        “The reason I bring this up is to highlight the scenario of a gridlocked 2-party (now some say it’s 3-party) government. It is extremely painful to watch these legislators do business. Every bill they introduce is macham like an encyclopedia that no one can vet fully because there are some many clauses and exceptions added to bribe this congressman or that senator. There is no concept of incremental improvement (like in engineering) because once a dominant party gabra and give way to the next one, the next guy will have to hurry up and push their policies through before they kena defeated again. If you can excuse my language, watching them make law is like watching a constipated person moving his bowels. It’s not a pretty sight.”

        What you are saying is that in the US, the rot is for all to see.

        In Singapore you don’t see anything and since you can’t see it, you can’t prove it, and since you can’t prove it you get sued if you dare to raise your suspicions of it.

        Human nature is in the US and in Singapore. And in politics in both places. Except that in the US, you can’t hide it.

      • 45 Poker Player 8 May 2011 at 22:16

        To give a concrete example. You say

        “Every bill they introduce is macham like an encyclopedia that no one can vet fully because there are some many clauses and exceptions added to bribe this congressman or that senator. ”

        The difference is that in Singapore, this sort of backscratching leave little trace and in hidden.

        Ask yourself. Would anyone voluntarily carry a Minister on his shoulder (figuratively speaking and sometimes literally) on an election win? We all know the scorn this invites in private. How would a ball carrier be rewarded?

        Don’t “pek cek” only for things openly reported in a free society. Similarly revolting things happens in fearful societies too – and they are far more corrupting – because nobody dares to talk about them.

      • 46 Eudaemon 8 May 2011 at 23:12

        @Ben Personally I feel that is a rather one-sided assessment/perception of the current US political system. So to be fair, let me share what I see are some positives instead. The main difference with Singapore is that the two main parties there do not have a party whip (or at least one which is enforced by default and only lifted once in a blue moon). So whenever a congressman or even the President from the controlling House puts up a bill, he/she has to also convince fellow Democrats/Republicans, and is never guaranteed that it will go through (without revision at least). This forces policy-makers to be bi-partisan, and consider all the different constituents and their views/feedback, as they should. Sure, efficiency will be reduced but isn’t the trade-off worth it to have considered all angles and debated rigorously before a bill passes? Or are you one of those who assumes the ruling party ‘knows best’?

        With independent minded senators comes an independent minded electorate who do not mind voting in someone else whom they think can serve them better. This forces the senators to truly work hard for their constituents, and to push bills which benefit them and block those who adversely impacts them. Isn’t that what you would want as a member of the electorate?

        You draw the parallel of EU nations suffering from spendthrift governments pandering to their electorate. In the Singapore context, who then is spending public funds on handouts and promises of short-term benefits (vs the real things which the electorate have feedback for instead) during every GE? Tan Jee Say from SDP pointed out what should have been the obvious – if Singapore is accumulating so much surplus to our reserves year after year, doesn’t that mean that the citizens are being over-taxed? If the Singapore economy has been really doing so well as claimed, the citizens should probably share in the fruits of our labor consistently instead. Our President is already there to protect our reserves to prevent abuse.

      • 47 twasher 9 May 2011 at 08:18

        Arguments that rely on single anecdotes are not very convincing. One can always point to various countries in Europe (Netherlands, Sweden, Finland) that have had several coalition governments and are known for exceptionally good government. So multiple parties in the government does not necessarily lead to ‘gridlock’. You have to do more work to explain why Singapore will end up more like the US than like these other countries.

      • 48 drmchsr0 10 May 2011 at 09:28

        TrollBasher: I’d like a representative democracy myself, but considering that in Sweden, they allowed racists to hold power (even though it’s a lot closer to events beyond their control than the system…), let’s just say that first, the GRC system has to go before we debate on that.

        Ben: You forget that while the US is controlled by corporate interests, here in Singapore, corporate interest IS the government. It’s a sad state of affairs there, and I hope the Americans will finally fix that. Their system allows for that. Singapore’s rarely allows that to happen.

        Eudaemon: Don’t forget that in the US, corporate money oils the political machine and that one man controls the media in America, much like how in Singapore. But at least their media is more than willing to investigate supposed wrongdoings, even though it’s based off corporate interests rather than a genuine concern for the country.

  30. 49 agneschia 8 May 2011 at 14:27

    I was guessing that WP would win Aljunied by only a 1-2% margin. I would like to think that the ‘Nicole Seah Effect’ might have also contributed to a vote swing among the younger voters to vote in favour of the opposition and that would also translate into more votes for the WP in the Aljunied ward. So am glad that the margin is actually much comfortable at almost 55%. In a sense I thank Nicole and the NSP for that!

  31. 50 Anon 8 May 2011 at 14:31

    The Jurong NSP team did not even make house visit during the 9-day campaign, whilst the PAP team came twice – once for a photo shot and the second time to say a hello.

    I voted for the NSP nonetheless, but I feel they don’t deserve more than the 33% they got.

    • 51 Sam 9 May 2011 at 15:54

      The RP didn’t even canvass in my precinct whatmore my block. Anyway gave my vote to them for other reasons. The PAP people did and left leaflets behind.

      At times we Singaporeans expect too much, be it from the government or from the opp parties. But I blame this on the social construct that the PAP has created and nurtured for the Singaporean society. With their Singapore Inc approach and philosophy, KPIs, profit and loss, asset enhancement, GDP, blah, blah, and as a consequence rightly and correctly pointed out by Vincent (SDP) that the individual Singaporean has loss his soul, his humanity, his civic consciousness. Tellingly, LTK in his victory speech mentioned too, Singaporeans don’t want a house but wants to build a home.

      The ruling party treats Singaporeans on a transactional basis despite their attempts during national day celebrations to engender a one united people society. The 6 WP reps in parliament is a first step after 20 years of seeing little more than 2 alternative voices. I hope they will try their best to nurture a different narrative on the Singapore story.

  32. 52 agneschia 8 May 2011 at 14:48

    The PAP elected MPs are paid to do the groundwork cos that is their job (paid). The opposition members try to do groundwork after their working hours in the evenings and weekends (unpaid). The PAP candidates have all their campaign costings paid by the party while most opposition candidates pay for own campaignn costs, trying to balance how to reach out to the electorate while keeping costs in control. So i suppose they also must think of innovative ways how to increase human capacity among their teams. The PA was supposed to be a platform for all elected MPs to tap on residents and inculcate civic participation among the residents. With real civic participation (not those at RC we see now, the top down organisational type) but bottom up action through town hall meetings (for example), then the MP of that ward can increase and expand the human capital and social capital of the ward and reaching out to the residents will be much much easier. We must think of how to overcome this PA grassroots unfair practice in Aljunied now so as to get them to appoint the WP MPs as the CCC’s grassroots advisors. If the PA is still adamnant about flouting their rules at a GRC then weneed to innovate within the Town Council, Town Hall level to run parallel attempts at increasing citzens participation and civic engagement. With the mass in numbers, Aljunied will have spill over effects to neigbouring GRCs.

    With such a backdrop, I therefore think that most opposition candidates this GE have put in their best and I won’t ask for them to visit me like the PAP candidates who yes, did twice at my plc too (remembering also they are not doing this as a paid job so i can’t put them on par with the PAP when doing my comparison). Therefore likewise i voted for the opposition.

  33. 53 guohong 8 May 2011 at 17:44

    An excellent analysis and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Thanks for the article!

  34. 54 jamie 8 May 2011 at 19:24

    The real show will begin in the 2016 election. There’s a good chance that LKY will die, and the PAP may by then splinter into factions.

    The RP, though being the newest (and financially poorest, they had to raise funds by selling their sunny yellow umbrellas), garnered a respectable share of votes. I’m happy to have voted for them in my first chance to vote.

    My condolences to George Yeo. He seemed like a decent guy, and what’s more vexing is that folks like Mah Bow Tan and Wong Kan Seng managed to secure their MP position.

    WP, congratulations for nabbing a GRC. Now, aim for a couple more in 2016.

    Opposition parties, start your planning and ground work NOW. Yes, by NOW I mean May 2011. Don’t wait till 2-3 years before the next election.

  35. 55 Jonnyboy 8 May 2011 at 20:59

    While the GE results may look disappointing from the opposition supporters’ point of view, it is nothing compared to the disappointments seen from PAP’s perspective.

    For the opposition supporters, their losses include:

    1. Chiam See Tong. However, his defeat is not unexpected because Chiam himself is a very much loved one-man brand. All these years, he’s effectively an independent candidate, not truly representing any party. Without a clear succession and party mechanism to support him and extend his reach, he can only go so far.

    2. Unpopular ministers remain in power, and unpopular candidates like Tin Pei Ling have been voted in.

    3. Most of popular opposition slates and candidates, save for WP, failed to win.

    Seems terrible, but when compared to PAP’s losses, this is nothing:

    1. The impregnable fortress of the GRC system has finally been dismantled. The road to future opposition victory has been paved. Will there be a donimo effect?

    2. Loss of 2 full ministers (one of which is a popular one), 1 senior minister of state (and potential house speaker), and 1 4G office holder. PAP can no longer bank on Singaporeans’ fear for the loss of ministers to keep their votes.

    3. The WP has proven that it can, given 10 to 20 years, be a possible alternative government. It has gotten most of the formulas right. After the GE, the WP team will only get stronger as more qualified people seek to join.

    4. Major cracks within the PAP have surfaced in clear view of the public for the first time. It’s quite clear the SM and a few of the more popular ministers are on one side, whereas WKS and MBT are on the other. PM also contradicts MM. It’s also possible that within the party, people are angry with what MM and SM had said during the election that undermined the candidates. It has become a generational division, and the older ones may be forced to take a back seat. And as they do so, or eventually passes on due to old age, the support base of the PAP will shrink.

    5. There will be more internal strife within PAP – one side trying to appease angry voters by being highly (if not overly) consultative, whereas the hawks will resist. Can good and effective policies be developed in this kind of environment?

    6. Will winning only 60.1% of the national popular votes, which I believe is the worst since independence, shake LHL’s position within the party? Will there be challengers when the MM passes on? Will the PM spend more time trying to defend his position in the party, than do the right things for the nation?

    Many questions, no obvious answers. But for the PAP, it’s entering a rather frightening and unknown future. It went into the election believing that the ground was sweet because of last year’s record GDP growth. It came out badly beaten. It can no longer be confident of itself and its judgement.

    It’s written all over in history books. Ruling powers inevitably decline, new powers replace them. The clock has started ticking on 7 May 2011. The tide is unstoppable. It may be bad for one party, but a good thing for the nation. That’s why a country like China can survive and thrive, albeit with ups and downs, for 3,000 years.

  36. 56 Mirax 8 May 2011 at 21:47

    When I was a new voter in 1991 in Hougang, having the personable LTK drop by at my flat and spending a few minutes talking was unexpectedly important to me though I had already decided to vote for the opposition. The PAP incumbent lived down to my low expectations of him by arriving with a large entourage and hurriedly pressing my hand for a mere few seconds. We may make firm decisions based on intellect but the personal touch puts a seal on the deal.

    Even before nominations day, Desmond Choo was smiling and waving at me as I was rushing to the corner shop while I missed YSL’s house visits. I didnt realise who DC was, therwise I would have cornered him for a spot of frank talking to but his face is the one in my memory, not YSL’s.

    I am a die-hard opposition supporter, not a fence-sitter, in case anyone missed that! So I do think that working the ground is indispensable in our country and culture.

  37. 57 Mirax 8 May 2011 at 22:17

    In 2006, I was not following anything Singaporean online- encountering Singapore’s most popular blogger, that horrible Xiaxue, made me write off the entire Singapore blog scene. I only discovered intelligent Singaporean blogs with the AWARE saga, so the 2006 blogger buzz didnt exist for me. I do not attend rallies and only realised the WP’s pulling power years after the fact when I read this blog and saw the pictures.

    But this year, the WP’s rallies had the power and status rock concerts. I only realised it when i was caught up in a massive jam trying to return home to hougang and saw the masses of people and cars. The visceral effect of that is quite breathtaking, even taking it in secondhand. Watching Singaporeans express passion loudly and rowdily for something political is a new experience but a heady one. The WP had the x-factor this year and the young were all abuzz about it. My secondary tuition students know the names and election stats more so than their parents. It seems that all the kids in schools were talking about it. Last night, my smss and two excited phonecalls at 2am were from my students rather than my peers. These kids were taken by the WP much more than the other parties. The rebellious, carnival spirit of the WP rallies had a lot to do with that. So really, kudos to the WP.

    The youth awakening of 2011 is the best sign of hope yet.

    • 58 drmchsr0 10 May 2011 at 09:35

      Sadly, the youth awakening may be a double-edged sword for Singapore.

      I’m one of them, and the worst part wasn’t that the PAP remained in power (it was expected), but the aftermath. Those who voted Opposition were cursing those who voted PAP.

      And I fully expect this to spill over and eventually harm Singapore in the long run. Youthful enthusiasm is one thing, but it’s slowing turning into what happened to the SDP in 2001 (remember their image problems?). If you don’t realize that image counts for everything with the media, the good effects will eventually be washed out. And the online community has been presented in a bad enough light as it is already.

  38. 59 Anon 8 May 2011 at 23:02

    I am wondering if political parties have access to the voting trends in the constituency they contested at the precinct levels. Are these open to the public as well?

    • 60 yawningbread 8 May 2011 at 23:27

      It depends on how good the counting agents are. Acting for the SDP, I made a note of the details of the six polling stations whose ballot boxes came into the counting centre. The details included the reference number of the polling precinct and the location of the polling station. Since each polling station’s ballots are counted separately, I was able to record the votes and percentages scored at each polling station and passed a copy of my tabulation to the candidate. From there he should be able to analyse which parts of the township voted strongly for him or against him. He should also be able to estimate whether he was drawing more votes from areas with the 3-room flat residents or areas with 5-room flat residents, or areas with private condos, thus measuring his own electoral appeal to different demographics.

      However, because there are so many counting centres for large GRCs, all counting agents must be trained to do likewise and have pen, paper, etc to record the details, otherwise there’ll be gaps in the data. I don’t know if other counting agents did what I did for SDP; I doubt it. This is where logistics planning well in advance makes a difference in intel. A last-minute scramble for counting agents may be heroic, but nothing beats proper planning and training of volunteers well ahead of time.

      • 61 Mediacasting 9 May 2011 at 09:59

        It will also depend on your presiding officer. Some may not take too kindly to agents having writing material on hand since any potential breach of the oath of secrecy is a major infringement and does damage to the all-important claim of “your vote is secret”.

        The issuing officers at my counting center outrightly warned me against even communication with my election agent, despite the fact that I would be using my phone outside the counting hall.

        Every agents’ mileage may vary, but I agree that it pays to be prepared. There is nothing stopping election agents and candidates from roaming from center to center and collating the data via word-of-mouth from the agents on the ground there.

      • 62 Sam 9 May 2011 at 16:00

        That’s interesting. I always thought at the end of the day, the ELD will provide contestants with a detailed breakdown of the voting trends in the various contested areas down to the precinct level.

        So when LHL mentioned that they will do the detailed anlaysis, presumably what you describe is what they will be doing?

        But I am wondering, how does the ELD go about changing the boundaries of GRCs? There must be some informed inputs from somewhere?

        Did what you do was motivated by what you think your larger role is all about as a counting agent or this was an instruction from your SDP handlers?

  39. 63 Jiekai 8 May 2011 at 23:46

    Alex,

    I will only add that Joo Chiat is an upper middle class neighbourhood, made up almost entirely of private housing and populated by well-to-do PMETs, doctors, civil servants, army officers etc. So from a Joo Chiat voter’s point of view, Mr Yee’s very close race with Charles Chong is a very good barometer of the way that upper middle class Singaporeans have split between those who support the PAP and those who are prepared to support a “rational, responsible and credible” opposition (to use the Workers’ Party catchphrase). To some extent the results in Holland Bukit Timah also reflect this. Serangoon Gardens of course went to the Workers’ Party. This is a very bad result for the PAP, because it means that credible opposition parties like the Workers’ Party are likely to attract even more “heavyweights” in the next election.

    • 64 Tiffany 9 May 2011 at 00:36

      Jiekai, this is not new. In 1997 election, the then Cheng San GRC, which was largely upper middle class, and contested by the Worker’s Party, then led by JBJ, lost with 45.2% of the votes. Subsequently, this GRC was split into 3, the bulk of the private housing estates going to Ang Mo Kio GRC which our Prime Minister leads.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheng_San_Group_Representation_Constituency

      Strong opposition in upper middle class, private housing estates is likely as there is very little in way of “carrots” that the government can dangle in front of them to sway their votes.

      Likely Joo Chiat SMC will be absorbed or the boundary lines redrawn for 2016.

  40. 65 Tan Kok Tim 9 May 2011 at 02:03

    I posted on 27 April. I said: “the strategies of some of the opposition parties to take on the PAP could have been better planned to hit at the weakest links in some of the GRCs and SMCs. I said it was going to be a tough fight for the opposition in some wards. I added that some wards might not even be a contest at all from the start, a non-starter. “ Now with the GE2011 finished, time for some to reflect, lick their wounds, heal any lost ego, and move on to prepare for the next round with renewed confidence but not arrogance. Humility by going downward is the reaction of going upward in all situations and circumstances of all human activities and endeavours. Not many human understand this basic principle of human life.

  41. 66 Tan Kok Tim 9 May 2011 at 02:05

    I posted and asked a few days ago: “ Many people have asked what will be MM Lee Kuan Yew’s final legacy for Singapore given that he will have another 5 years in Parliament and Cabinet to make it happen.
    This GE2011 is considered a ‘watershed’ and the election result of 60.14% total votes for the PAP compared to 66.6% in 2006 could be the base of MM Lee’s final legacy.
    How he craft his final legacy will depend on whether he has accepted the GE result with indignation and dismay or with jubilation, elation and ecstasy to advise the Cabinet on:
    What is the electorate’s message that the PAP could apply to put spurs into their hides, their behind, to get their act together in governing Singapore with fewer complaints and disgruntles from Singaporeans?
    I hope political observers will give worthy analysis, views and opinions in the coming weeks.

  42. 67 Dy 9 May 2011 at 02:15

    “I could have added Alec Tok and Teo Soh Lung to the list of more deserving opposition candidates who should have won.”

    Alec Tok? The guy whose most burning concern was his election deposit after news of his loss broke?

  43. 68 Anonymous 9 May 2011 at 08:07

    For SDP, I thought Tan See Jay could do with more refining of his orotorial skills. I found his speech manners to be a bit stilted and stern. He could relax a bit more, smile and improve on vocal projection. And look at how many times he referred to his papers! They could hook up a projector so the speech was less interrupted.

    Alec Tok was very good but his approach was too fiery and aggressive for me. I was very impressed with his oratorical skills and also a little turned off but am curious how the others thought of his approach. Did it help to reel in the more aggressive voters?

    I think Vincent could have been more subtle too.

    Both Vincent and Alec reminded me of 1 concept in sales: hard-selling. These days, soft-selling is better and more gentle.

    • 69 Anonymous 9 May 2011 at 09:30

      Tan Jee Say’s shadow plan was impressive but he could have elaborated far more. I read the whole policy on TOC but it was too barebones and assumes the readers are well-versed in economics and privy to finer details of Singapore’s economy. I watched his speeches but they were mainly repetition. I didn’t see the handouts at SDP rallies but they must have been about the same as on TOC.

      It could have done with more hand-holding explanations, so more people could understand it. He should’ve written more explanations, so as to minimise chances of misinterpretation and misrepresentation of facts by others. That way, anyone who knows a bit about money and economics can connect to the bigger picture.

    • 70 Mirax 9 May 2011 at 21:36

      Agree, about Tan Jee Say being stilted and rather colourless. Thought that Vincent was perfect while Alec Tok was so ‘oratorical’ and dramatic that it seemed almost a performance. I enjoyed watching him but am aware that many could be turned off or bemused by his style. Ang YG was too excitable and emotional for me.

      Sylvia Lim, Pritam Singh and LTK were just right for the crowd, I feel and Chen SM’s confident body language and relaxed, measured demeanour worked well.


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