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Friday April 28th 2017

My thoughts on PAP’s landslide victory

Singaporeans woke up to a post-GE 2015 feeling somewhat bewildered and shocked at the landslide victory of the incumbent.

Many have messaged or emailed me expressing their astonishment and unbelief and I don’t blame them.

Many cited fraud as one of the main reason for the landslide defeat and under the dismayed circumstances its understandable that they will find any plausible reason to pin the blame to unwarranted forces than trying to find logical ones.

Moreover, most of the signs for the past few years were pointing to alot of dissatisfaction and unhappiness at the failure of our emigration, transport and CPF policies – so what went wrong?

Are Singaporeans that daft to vote otherwise and I am sure critics and analysts will have a field day trying to come up with their own thoughts and analysis of a most-unexpected election result in modern history.

Even the transport minister has to bow away in a first-ever step-down of a minister before any general election for fear that he may bring down the whole team if he ever stand for election – in any constituency.

This shows that the ruling party is also apprehensive of a electorate backlash as the past few years were one of the toughest Singaporeans ever experienced since we turned independent.

Even the Prime Minister looks worried and concerned at his last campaign rally at the CBD area three days before polling day pointing his gun at the growing WP – calling on voters to deny the resurgent opposition giant the right to governance in a bid to frighten risk-adverse voters to vote back the ruling party.

Many pinned down  fear factor for the huge swing factor as the main stream media kept focusing on the comparison of WP/SDP and PAP rallies – a psychological tactic used by the incumbent election after election to coax voters to vote back the incumbent as Singapore won’t survive without the PAP.

Some die-hard opposition supporters I knew have already make drastic plan to emigrate or turn away from politics completely to punish the 69% who vouched for a tyrant government for the next five years.

Some refused to extend any more help to us at speakers’ corner in future as they felt that the average Singaporeans are apathetic and will not learn their lesson even though they are marginalised by damaging policies.

All seem doom and gloom for the 30% minority who voted for change.

But are the results that unexpected? Dr Paul Tambyah and Sylvia Lim both admitted that the ruling party has done their part to galvanise votes and it started as early as a year after the dismal GE 2011 result.

The ruling party has cleverly planned out their strategy as they know that the electorate is not as submissive as those in previous elections – they will vote against the ruling party if they are unhappy with certain policy.

Let me try to analyse what the ruling party has done to appease and win over the electorate in a elaborately mapped-out strategy which won them 69% of the majority votes.

Tackling the elderly voters through CHAS card

The government has been preparing to  tackle the healthcare gross of  the elderly by introducing the CHAS card which is tied to the Pioneer Generation package.

This allows the elderly to seek medical care with subsidised payment and though it is not entirely without faults, the card gave them some solace that the government is taking care of their needs.

Those who used it frequently will graduating swing their votes back to the incumbent as it is tangible and visible – they can feel and touch the card and there is a emotional connection to what the government is trying to do.

There are at least 350,000 to 400,000 elderly voters aged above 65 years old and though most of them are pro-PAP, the CHAS card has somehow sealed their loyalty to the incumbent.

Its a smart clean move by the government as their children will also get to see the benefits of the CHAS card and may also swing their votes back to the ruling party.

To reinforce their support for our pioneer generation, the government introduces the silver-haired package which provides $300 to $750 a quarter to those aged above 65 years and above.

It is not something to shout about really but its introduction has eradicate the much-heralded complaint that our government does not care about the elderly.

None of the opposition could match what the government has done for the elderly so far.

Tackling middle ground voters through SG 50 Jubilee celebration

The SG 50 jubilee celebration was a massive Singaporean event and used by the ruling party to perfection to tackle the fickle-minded middle ground which numbered close to 25%.

As early as last year, the SG 50 logo was used island wide for the widely-popular jubilee celebration and once you step out of the house, you will witness the logo everywhere – from bus-stop to road poles to MRT stations.

A friend told me even soya bean bottles and plastic bags to carry groceries also contained that logo!

It is mass propaganda at its best as people are seeing it visually and feeling it emotionally – that the country is going through 50 years of independence with pride and psychologically the ruling party is tying that to the efforts of the incumbent.

PAP is Singapore! Singapore is PAP!

When the ruling party decided to call for a snap election one year before the due period and two weeks after the gala celebration on national day, many are not surprised as it is a innovative way to cash in on the euphoria mood of the voters.

Many have in fact converted back to being PAP supporters during the 3-day SG 50 gala mass celebration even though thousands fled the country for their long weekend holiday.

I have to switch off my TV set during the  national day celebration as it is that memerising! The throngs of patriotism can do wonders o one’s psyche and if it has swayed someone who is a die-hard opposition fan what more the general populance?

Many swing voters I believed are swayed by the patriotic celebration during that 3 days and decided to swing their votes back to the ruling party – which happened two weeks after.

The opposition has no answer to this patriotic favour sweeping across the island in a one-year celebratory mood culminated in the 3-day national day fever.

Tackling middle ground voters through post-LKY factor

When LKY passed on, some opposition supporters were worried as he is a huge influence on the middle ground voters and any post-LKY influence is likely to sway voters back to the ruling party.

Many may have even decided to vote back the incumbent when they lined the street to view his casket passing by on that memorable day – its a emotional pledge they made to someone whom they respected and honoured – even though they hated the 6.9 million population white paper and frequent transport breakdown.

Some have even said that a visit by the patriarch will ensure a 10% vote swing for any constituency as many still viewed him as the founder of the country and someone who has brought Singapore to its present modern prosperity.

The scale and magnitude of the grief associated with his death also caught the ruling party by surprise.

More than a million people queued up overnight to pay homage to the leader over 7 days and about 100,000 lined the street in the rain to pay respect on his funeral.

Many of the middle ground voters decided to vote for the ruling party in this election more out of respect for him than anything else.

I personally believe half of the swing voters ie. 5% of the 9% swing are doing so because of the SG 50 jubilee and LKY factor.

This represents close to 120,000 voters who decided to swing back their vote from the opposition camp to the ruling party.

Again, the opposition could not find any answer to push back the post-LKY influence – even his death has benefitted the regime who is in sore need of such a major victory.

Tackling the 100,000-strong civil service voters

We have a unusually large civil service for a tiny country and they are very susceptible to gutter politics by the incumbent.

They were handed a $500 angpao for the SG50 national day celebration – something that is unheralded and undeserved.

Though not all civil servants are pro-PAP, many are thankful with some even fearful to vote otherwise as their rice-bowls are at stake.

It is not surprising to find more than 80% of the civil service voting for the incumbent and this represents close to 80,000 voters ie. about 4% of the total electorate.

The opposition could not prevent the government from using gutter politics to entice the civil service to vote for the incumbent.

Tackling the chronic matured jobless voters

The government is all along concerned at the jobless rate of those reaching 4o to 50 years of age.

Many suffer from prolonged unemployment and are chaffed at the policies of the pro-immigration government.

The unemployment figure for this particular vulnerable group could reach a high of 40% with many switching to cab driving in order to survive. Many of them possess tertiary education with wide corporate experience but were sidelined by the recent immigration policy.

As recent as two months before the general election is called, the government introduced a policy whereby companies will be subsidised part of the wages paid to this group if they hire our experienced matured jobseekers.

Though we are unsure how many matured PMETs are hired through this scheme, more importantly they are seen as trying to tackle the chronic unemployment pool of this vulnerable group.

This particular scheme could have probably swing back 1% of the opposition voters to the incumbent even though it’s implementation is still suspect.

Tackling the damaging transport issue

To tackle the badly-managed transport issue, transport minister Lui Tuck Yew took the rap and bowed down just before the general election.

It was a smart strategic move as the ruling party immediately removed a chronic thorn in it’s flesh as he spells trouble for any of the ward he is contesting.

To the voters, it shows that the government is ready to take action to appease the general population who is unhappy with the frequent transportation problem and has turned into being the number one grouse of most Singaporeans.

This move may have cause 1% of the voters to swing back their votes though our transportation problem is still unresolved.

Tackling the immigration issue

The 6.9 million population white paper was widely brought out in most rallies during the 8 days of campaigning and many believe that this anti-Singaporean policy alone will swing votes to the opposition.

However, the 9% swing back for the incumbent shocked many and even the incumbent must be feeling bewildered.

The population white paper is the mother of all problem as it caused many PMETs to lose their jobs to incoming foreigners and our massive transportation problem is also mainly caused by the sudden huge foreign influx.

To many, the huge gain in majority votes by the ruling party is tantamount to overwhelming support for what the incumbent has implemented and somehow it is not baffling anymore to call Singaporeans daft.

But the salient question to ask is – are Singaporeans voting out of fear or logic and more importantly what drives them to vote vehemently for the ruling party despite a series of setbacks affecting the incumbent after GE 2011?

Tackling the housing issue

Housing has been the number one issue in GE 2011 and then housing minister Mah Bow Tan was ushered out of the troublesome portfolio immediately after the election.

Khaw Boon Wan took over and to his credit, he has turned the ministry around within a short four years.

Houses were built in record time and the housing issue does not featured as much for this election as in GE 2011.

The government also took pain to try and bring down housing cost and the large secondary market whereby PRs could pry in was brought under control when foreigners could only purchase second-hand  flats after five years upon acquiring their PRs.

Those who want to purchase a second private house also need to pay a levy to stamp out property speculation.

Home pricing went down every month for the past 13 to 14 months with private homes suffering the most 18 months prior to general election.

Tackling the resurgent opposition party WP

To clip the resurgent wings of the opposition giant, the ruling party used a 3-year smear campaign to pain WP black viz-a-viz the town council issue.

It has pinned the opposition party back a few steps after the major coup in GE 2011 and its dismal parliamentary speeches did not help them much as they tried their best to punch back.

The civil service was also co-opt into the overt dirty campaign  and MND was utilised frequently by the ruling party to issue damaging report about WP’s auditting shortcomings.

Many educated voters could see through all the smokescreen but the middle ground who only read mainstream media lapped it up in horror.

I must however add that voters in Aljunied GRC did the right thing by voting back the opposition giant into parliament as anything lesser would have brought us back to the dark years of LKY in the 1990s.

The 3-year smear campaign has worked to PAP’s favour as a unknown team they put up garnered 48% and God knows what will happen if they have put up a strong team there.

Conclusion

Many people are still reeling from the shock result of the recent election and heads will have to roll in certain parties to ensure that the opposition is ready for GE 2020.

Small opposition parties like RP, SDA, PPP, DPP and SPP also have to ask themselves if they need to fold up or regroup into a bigger single party so that their resources can be pooled in order to better tackle the next election.

It is no shame if they feel they need to fold up so that their resources can be free up for a better Singapore.

Many middle-ground Singaporeans do not have faith and confidence in small parties as they lack the resources and manpower to mount a credible election campaign.

Nine parties contested the recent election vying for the votes of 2.3 million voters and many of these small parties could only garner less than 5% of the national votes.

Singapore does not need so many parties and the earlier they fold up or reorg the better it is for Singaporeans.

At most, we only need 3 or 4 credible opposition parties and if they by chance could miracuously form a huge one-party alliance like Malaysia did the better it is for Singapore as every election will get tougher due to the incremental increase in foreign new-citizen voters.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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