The PAP’s campaign for the 2011 election is a castastrophe right from the very beginning, plagued by incoherent messages to the voters, contradicting statements made by leaders and an outright dissociation from the reality on the ground amidst fast rising public disgruntlement at opprobrium.
For the last one week, the PAP’s disjointed campaign was dominated by two former prime ministers instead of the incumbent. PAP ‘walkover’ MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Lee Kuan Yew used his trade-mark ‘knuckle-duster’ style to intimidate Singaporeans from voting for the opposition, in particular residents of Aljunied GRC who were told to ‘repent for five years’ if they voted for WP. Then Goh Chok Tong, who had earlier promised not to comment on candidates from other constituencies shot his own foot by making disparaging remarks about his former subordinate and now SDP candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah Tan Jee Say.
The PAP has adopted the same modus operandi it employed so successfully in previous elections by harping constantly on its ‘track record’, handing out goodies like ‘Grow and Share’ package to woo voters and using the state media to smear and fix the opposition.
It appeared to have panicked when it realized that the same old tactics aren’t working on Singaporeans anymore, especially the young who are widely read and have no affiliations to the PAP.
The oft-repeated message of ‘good governance, political stability and economic growth’ now sounds like a stale old record repeating itself to a wall especially when life is indeed getting tougher for ordinary Singaporeans facing increasing competition from the relentless influx of foreigners.
The hundreds of dollars handed out to Singaporeans are too little to help them cope with the rampant inflation while the usua smear tactics which have worked so well in the past now backfired one by one in the age of Facebook and Youtube.
Like an over-confident student who did not bother to study hard for his exams only to realize in the last minute that the format of the papers have changed and doing last-minute revision now, the PAP is changing gear with only three days to go to salvage a disastrous campaign so far.
The format of this election has indeed changed, revolutionized by the new media which the PAP has failed to incorporate into it campaign.
All of sudden, Lee Kuan Yew who had dominated the headlines for the last few days has all but disappeared from public view altogether with Goh Chok Tong whose infamous last words were – “The majority of Singaporeans are not concerned by the high ministerial pay.”
Like an abusive husband saying sorry to a battered wife and promising to change, PM Lee went through a face-life in a day: he apologized to Singaporeans for the mistakes his government have made despite the many opportunities they were given in the last five years, tried to embrace the online community by holding a ‘Live’ webchat through Facebook when he should have done so earlier and pretending to be humble, empathetic and caring when all along he had been lecturing Singaporeans and asking them to take the ‘bitter pills.’
PAP leaders suddenly remember to engage Singaporeans instead of talking down to them. George Yeo made a desperate appeal on a Facebook video to young Singaporeans to support the PAP, promising to “change and improve” when he said in 1995 that ordinary Singaporeans have no right to discuss about policies with the government.
Khaw Boon Wan cried to win sympathy votes during a rally while conveniently forgetting his callous call for Singaporeans to send their parents to retire in Johor Bahru in 2007. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan now promises to “care for” and “look after” Singaporeans when he deliberated for months before raising the monthly allowance of Public Assistance recipients.
Unfortunately, these feeble last-ditch attempts aren’t going to convince many Singaporeans who have already made up their minds to teach the PAP a lesson it will never forget on 7 May.
Despite controlling the mainstream media, the PAP has clearly lost out to a highly motivated, tightly-knitted and nimble opposition which has clearly played its cards right this time with strong support from the new media.
In fact, the state media may turn out to be the PAP’s undoing as its blatant one-sided propaganda has lulled PAP leaders into a state of complacency for a long time.
Like domesticated dogs which have grown too fat and lazy to guard the house, the present batch of PAP leaders are so sheltered from the humps and bumps of politics that they have lost the instinct, capability and competitiveness necessary to survive in the harsh world of politics.
Though the PAP will still win the coming election with an overwhelming majority, it will be a useful wake-up call for its leader to change their usual strategy to appeal to the younger generation of voters in future elections.