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How the PAP has been ‘engaging’ the opposition in this election

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 2, 2011

Old habits die hard. It appears that the PAP has not change its standard modus operandi of indulging in smear tactics and gutter politics to destroy its political opponents despite recent attempts by the state media to rebrand its image.

PAP candidate for Ang Mo Kio GRC Lee Hsien Loong said a strong opposition in the coming election helps to focus the minds of voters on issues.

SM Goh Chok Tong called for a ‘clean contest’ and urged the opposition to refrain from personal attacks.

Straits Times journalist Chua Mui Hoong proclaimed that Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s approach is different from his father and he has fought a ‘clean campaign’ so far.

Indeed, this election has been relatively ‘quiet’ by PAP standards as compared to previous ones when it would single out an opposition candidate for demolition such as Francis Seow in 1988, Jufrie Mahmood in 1991, Tang Liang Hong in 1997, Dr Chee Soon Juan in 2001 and Dr James Gomez in 2006.

History did not rear its ugly head again this time not because the PAP leaders have ‘repented’ and change their distasteful ways, but simply because of the presence of the new media to counter the blatant disinformation, half-truths and lies the PAP-controlled media is churning out daily to sway public opinion towards the PAP by discrediting the opposition at every available opportunity.

Let us look at how the PAP has ‘engaged’ the opposition so far.

1. Ignore them completely and indulge in shameless self-promotion:

PAP leaders never bother to read the opposition’s proposals and to ponder over their merits. Instead, they will give sweeping motherhood statements like ‘The PAP has a proven ‘track record’ for fifty years’, ‘The PAP is a first class government’ and ‘The PAP will take care of Singaporeans’ which are broadcast repeatedly by the state media daily without ever substantiating them.

The Nazi Minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels once said: “A lie when repeated often enough, will eventually become the truth.”

Given the endless generous self-praise PAP leaders have been lavishing on one another, it is not a surprise that they are beginning to buy into their own propaganda that they are the only ‘talents’ available to lead Singapore.

2. Shoot down their proposals:

The opposition parties have come up with a series of comprehensive manifestos to bring Singapore forward such as the impressive 46 page economic manifesto written by Mr Tan Jee Say which is endorsed by the former head of the British civil service Lord Butler himself. (read it here)

Even then, PAP leaders, some of whom with literally no experience in the field of economics found fit to shoot them down immediately with lame statements such as “minimum wage will increase unemployment”, “adopting SDP proposal will kill off manufacturing” and “the opposition candidates have no qualification to speak on the economy” when one of them, Mr Tan Jee Say had graduated with a degree in Politics, Economics and Philosophy and worked for 6 years in the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

3. Distort their message to confuse the public:

It seems that many PAP leaders have difficulties comprehending basic English or they are deliberately distorting the proposals of their opponents in order to discredit them.

For the past few days, PAP leaders, one after another have been accusing Mr Tan Jee Say’s proposal to ‘abandon’ the manufacturing sector which was reported widely by the state media.

In page 26 of Mr Tan’s economic manifesto, he wrote:

“In the new economy of services industries, existing entrepreneurs in the factories too have a place. They will not be abandoned. Those who want to shift into services will be helped with advice and funds if necessary and desired. Others who want to stay in manufacturing will be assisted to relocate outside Singapore.”

It is a shame that PAP leaders not only refuse to engage their opponents in a public debate as called by SDP, but chose to

4. Smear tactics and personal attacks:

We have already witnessed a few instances in which the PAP tried to smear its political opponents, but had to back out eventually due to a massive public backlash.

Dr Ng Eng Hen fired the first salvo by questioning the motives of WP candidate Chen Show Mao in returning to Singapore to contest in the election after being away for a number of years while ignoring the fact that Mr Chen has been visiting Singapore several times a year and his family is based here.

Then, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan tried to hit his opponent Dr Vincent Wijeysingha below the belt by sneakily hinting about a video taken last year involving the latter before getting the rest of his team to announce a joint public statement asking Dr Vincent to declare if he harbors any ‘gay agenda’. Unfortunately he mis-read the sentiment on the ground and eventually had to call for a ‘truce’ after netizens lampooned him for using ‘smear tactics’ to discredit Dr Vincent.

Lastly, when the smear doesn’t stick, dredge up the past and link everybody else to it. The Straits Times has been rehashing Dr Chee Soon Juan’s ‘chequered past’ such as his convictions for civil disobedience like an old broken tape recorder again, again and again though Dr Chee is not even taking part in the coming election.

There is one last tactic that the PAP has up its sleeve which it is likely to use as a last resort when forced into a corner: the use of the police and the Internal Security Act (ISA) to arrest and detain its opponents.

The PAP used the ISA to detain its former comrades who had left the party to form the Barisan Sosialist in 1962 and 1963 thereby effectively destroying its chances in the 1963 general election.

In 1987, 22 Catholic and social workers, some of whom would be contesting the election next year as candidates of the Workers’ Party were arrested and detained without trial for plotting a ‘Marxist conspiracy’ to overthrow the PAP regime when the Malayan Communist Party was about to sign a peace treaty with the Malaysian government.

One of them, the former Solicitor-General of Singapore Francis Seow was detained before the election and released in time to contest. By that time, the Income Revenue Authority (IRA) had already opened a case against him for tax evasion. Seow lost the election in Eunos GRC by a whisker and left for the United States soon after.

In 1997, Tang Liang Hong was hit by a series of defamation lawsuits and investigated by the police for criminal defamation before the election in Cheng San GRC. He eventually have to flee to Australia.

In 2006, Dr James Gomez was hauled up by the Singapore police for investigations for allegedly threatening a civil servant over a trivial misunderstanding at the Election Department. The police stopped him at the airport when he was about to leave for Sweden after the election and questioned him for hours before he was given a warning.

The only reason why such ugly incidents did not happen this time is because they were nipped quickly in the bud with the PAP realizing that it will cost them votes if it continues to badger and smear the opposition.

We have to stay extra vigilant and protect the opposition candidates who are risking everything in their lives to fight for our interests and speak up for us in parliament.

As SDP candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah declared at the SDP rally last night:

“We are not in for the money. We are here to serve you!”

We must not give the PAP even half a chance to employ ‘gutter politics’ again to destroy the lives of our candidates so as to divert public attention from its dismal track record in the last five years.

Enough is enough! It’s NOW or NEVER. Wake up from your slumber and grab at the last opportunity you have before we lose our country forever!

One Response to “How the PAP has been ‘engaging’ the opposition in this election”

  1. Alan Wong said

    To sum it all, I can only say :

    “They are the gods and they are also the devil”.

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