$35,0000… And That’s All She Wrote

$35,000…. That’s all that Nicole Seah’s team of five apparently spent on their election campaign.

To me this spells three things….

1. They aren’t serious about getting elected, and/or
2. They can’t afford to run for elections, and/or
3. They don’t really know how much $$$ is needed to run a viable campaign.

… And dispels a big myth: That the election deposit of $15,000 is a deterrent to “opp” candidates

Lets be clear: To run a professional, viable and successful campaign needs a lot of money. I’m sure most people know how many tens of millions are incurred on US Presidential campaigns, Senate campaigns and Congressional campaigns It goes to pay for campaign staff, speechwriters, political analysts, strategists and advisers, advertising, opinion polls, flights, hotels, venues, etc.

That’s why politicians in the West do fundraisers all the time, why they are always seeking donations.

That is also why most politicians in the West are usually rich to start with.

While we don’t have to ape the West, we must recognize that trying to run a campaign without adequate funds is likely a waste of money.

There’s no point stinting and spending “only” $5,000 or $10,000 every five years on an election campaign that ultimately fails.

This is not about how little one can spend to get elected.

If that’s your attitude as a politician, I suggest you spend the $$$ on a holiday instead. You’ll have less heartache, be more happy, and not disappoint your supporters.

Actually “opp” politicians should thank the PAP for making election campaigns “affordable”. By restricting political advertising, political films, political lobbyists, opinion pollsters, etc. the PAP has made money much less of an advantage for themselves.

If there were no such restrictions, don’t you think the PAP could outspend the other parties in all the above categories?

As it is, parties can only spend $$$ on rallies, posters, banners, mailers and such.

And yet candidates like Nicole and her team still spend only a measly $7,000 per candidate, mainly for rallies, posters and banners.

Why do they not want to pay for campaign staff, like polling agents and counting agents? Why do they not want to pay for political consultants, advisers, speechwriters, image consultants, campaign managers, pr agencies? Why do they not spend more on (factual) political videos, printing and distributing their manifestos, campaign hotlines, professionally designed websites, professional photography, etc?

I know, they rely on friends and families as volunteers, and they don’t want to risk pissing off volunteers by bringing in paid helpers.

Yes, volunteers are important, but that attitude has to change. You can bet that there are lots of Party members in a US Presidential campaign, helping out for free alongside paid campaign staffers.

I believe that, unless and until they pay for professional help, such as speechwriters, analysts and strategists, our “opp” politicians will not get to the next level, and electoral success will elude them.

Politics is serious business. It needs serious politicians, who take campaign funding seriously.

It’s time our “opp” politicians shed their poverty mentality and start taking campaigns, and campaign funding, seriously.

Not raise requests for funding AFTER an election.

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Someone who sees beyond PAP and "opposition" in Singapore politics. To understand more please see the Top 10 link below.
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18 Responses to $35,0000… And That’s All She Wrote

  1. Pingback: $35,0000… And That's All She Wrote | Political Writings « Politics And Funds

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  7. Redd says:

    Firstly, if trying to achieve a balanced article is your objective, how about doing a bit of research as to how much the other parties spent in the other constituencies? For example, how much did the Worker’s Party spent in Aljunied? How much did the PAP spent in Marine Parade? There is no basis for comparison at the moment.

    Your link with campaign spending and your first point: seriousness of getting elected is tenuous, at best, while your comparison with the US Presidential Elections is really stretching it. Until you try running an alternative political party in Singapore, and try to canvass funds for it on an ongoing basis, you would not have any idea how difficult it is to raise funds for politics in Singapore.

    On your list of what the NSP should spend on: polling and counting agents – I doubt spending on these would affect the number of votes a political party gets unless you tell me that PAP’s professional polling and counting agents contravene election rules by helping their party campaign at polling centres! Also, does the PAP spend on that or do they also rely on volunteers from their grassroot organizations? Do the PAP Ministers use their staff to draft speeches, media releases?

    I think if the NSP Marine Parade team only spent $35k and still managed to get 43% of the votes in the GRC, it does say something of the cost-effectiveness of their campaign, doesn’t it? On average, the team spent less than 60 cents per vote they received, which is quite remarkable to me. If anything, the NSP Marine Parade team has shown us that it can campaign effectively without the need to spend unnecessary money. Without excessive spending on professional videos, photography, etc, Nicole Seah managed to use not just the social media but also the mainstream media effectively to increase the profile of her team.

    Finally, spending $7,000 per candidate has not dispelled the ‘myth’ that the election deposit is a deterrent. Candidates have to come up with $16,500 BEFORE nomination day and as could be seen in Tanjong Pagar.

    • Thanks. I agree it’s difficult to raise funds. Indeed, I’ve a post specifically about political donations. Pls check it out.

      I said candidates must be prepared to spend. Whether they spend their own money or other people’s money, I leave to them.

      But to run a campaign on a shoestring budget is not the way to go.

      We’ve heard PAP pays allowances to the polling agents, quite a few of whom are youngsters.

      In spending, you have to remember the 80-20 rule. To get the first 30% of votes, you don’t need to spend a cent. Even a monkey running against PAP will get 30%.

      To get to 40% you have to be a credible candidate, not seen as an axe-grinder or tired old warhorse.

      To get to 45% you will need to spend more, in terms of groundwork and visibility (flyer distribution, mailers, etc.

      To get the last 6% you really need people to help you– manage logistics, write speeches, schedule media interviews, manage websites, hotlines, plan and strategise, advise, etc.

      You cannot achieve the final 6% just doing what everyone else does– nightly rallies and morning walkabouts.

      Or you need a superstar like Chen showmao and a track record like LTK.

      Your choice.

    • “Finally, spending $7,000 per candidate has not dispelled the ‘myth’ that the election deposit is a deterrent. Candidates have to come up with $16,500 BEFORE nomination day and as could be seen in Tanjong Pagar.”

      I disagree. $16,500 is a deposit. In all likelihood, you’ll get it back, unless you do something very stupid.

      There’s no reason that should deter anyone.

      $16500 + $7,000 is less than $25,000. If a candidate cannot afford even this, I don’t see why he should run at all. His chance of winning is basically nil.

    • A says:

      By way of comparison:

      So far the only team to file expenses is the PAP Tanjong Pagar team, who spent $164,000 (this is probably inflated by the last minute candidate switch).

      Meanwhile Jeanette-Chong Aruldoss estimates her expenses to be $25,000. This is quite surprising considering how close it is to the NSP Marine Parade team, which had more candidates and had to cover a larger number of voters. Perhaps GRCs are more cost-effective after all!

  8. cy says:

    Just to clarify,the deposit is $16,000. As regards to raising funds, SDP plans to set up a business arm for this purpose. Afterall,you can’t always depend on well-wishers to donate to you,it is lumpy and uncertain. If SDP who has the most upper-middle class donors still need to set up a business arm, there’s a need for other parties to consider it too.

    For eg.,they could make use of Nicole’s fame to sell items related to her. WP/SPP sells umbrellas and is running out of stock, this shows there is demand for these items. If Chiam see tong writes an autobiography, that will raise funds too.

    • Thanks. But my post is about spending, not funding. It’s about willingness to spend on a full-fledged campaign– with own $$ if necessary– as opposed to running on a shoestring.

  9. contrarian says:

    Read the PEA and you’ll see why candidates cannot hire people or spend more:
    72. —…no person shall, for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at any election, be engaged or employed for payment or promise of payment for any purpose or in any capacity whatever, except for the purpose or in the capacities following:
    (a) one election agent and no more;
    (b) only one polling agent for each polling place, except that in relation to a candidate at an election in a group representation constituency, only one polling agent for the group for each polling place;
    (c) a reasonable number of clerks and messengers having regard to the area of the electoral division and the number of electors on the register of electors for the division.

    • Thanks. I disagree.

      You can hire firms to provide services. Just like you hire contractors to set up the rally sites, or hire contractors to put up banners and posters, all of which are to “promote or procure” the election of a candidate.

      So you can hire PR firms to help you with PR, new media firms to help you with website, etc.

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