Category: Current Affairs
Published on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 13:17
Written by Shawn Danker
I was asked up front by a friend who is a Workers' Party supporter for my thoughts on what kind of advice I would dispense to the beleaguered party for this election. Here's what I said to my friend over our long chat.
First and foremost, I would tell the WP's bosses that they need to come clean on the town council issue. The longer they stay mute and play the victim card, the more it undercuts the party's public credibility with moderate swing voters.
It's already happening online whenever the party tries to speak about anything else aside from the town council issue. In fact, the more the party tries to change the subject, the more they reinforce the perception that they are deflecting the matter. Some of my moderate friends living in the Aljunied ward are already harbouring serious doubts over the WP's credibility thanks to the town council saga. Like it or not, the AHPETC issue is the biggest elephant in the room that needs to be addressed and resolved as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the WP leadership seems to think that any admission of error on their part will crater the public's faith in the party. So here is a sincere statement of my personal opinion on the matter: Give your supporters a little credit. Come clean that you made a mistake and that you are doing your best to rectify it. An apology will definitely remind the electorate that the Workers' Party is more than willing to own up to their mistakes and that in itself would be a breathe of fresh air in Singaporean politics that will buy a party a lot of political capital. An apology will ameliorate any perception of incompetence. The worst case scenario is that the pro PAP camp will mock the WP. But the brownie points WP will earn from the WP base and the swing vote camp outweighs any stings the PAP will send your way.
Next up is the matter of the new candidates that the WP has unveiled for this election. I think the rookie candidates should have been told months ago to begin working on their elocution. This is to prevent them from looking like they are just reading a script from for their public introduction. The resultant lack of eye contact did not inspire confidence as we listened to them read from their phone.
I think candidate Luke Koh made a massive mistake by bringing up the specter of the two is enough and graduate mums schemes. Even my mother who is in her mid seventies remarked that he sounded outdated by invoking the two schemes as wedge issues for this election...and this is from a woman who still thinks goreng pisang costs 50 cents! Mr. Koh should have saved the talk about the two schemes until after he is elected and in the house. He just ended up squandering political capital for nothing. As my mother said: Singaporeans are more interested in what kind of plans you have for our future. Not talk about matters of the past that cannot be changed.
One of the biggest criticisms against Mr. Chen Show Mao is about how "silent" he has been in parliament despite his pedigree. Mr. Chen could have debunked this by sharing his thoughts (while taking care to not sound too extreme) on public matters on his facebook like how candidate Daniel Goh has repeatedly done to great success in the past. This would have helped Mr. Chen kill two birds with one stone by building a rapport with younger voters while showing he has a firm grasp on substantial matters.
The same advice applies to Oxford graduate and new candidate He Ting Ru as well. Ms. Ru should use every press op she has to talk about substantive issues she wishes to champion. this will show that she knows the issues and how she intends to tackle them in the house, allowing the voters to make an informed decision when they are at the ballot box. Ms. Ru should use the media spotlight and public fascination to her full advantage.