[Note: This was written 21 Dec 2010. I am putting it here for archival purposes and to provide context for the upcoming “12 Wishes For Singapore Politics In 2012“]
1. That “opp” politicians and supporters alike change their mindsets from “Singapore should have more opposition” to “Singapore should have a new Govt”.
By the former they implicitly accept that the PAP should still be in charge. But if PAP is still in charge, how will things ever change?
2. That “opp” parties spend more time on issues that matter to Singaporeans, and less on causes.
Causes such as mandatory death penalty, civil liberties, ISA, S377A, rights of maids and other foreign workers, etc don’t move the majority of the population. While voters do want to see greater justice, they always vote for the party that they can trust to run the country.
Fight the PAP on the economy, jobs, tax cuts, etc. That’s what they do in the US as well. No one there fights an election on abortion or gay marriages.
3. That TR and TOC adopt less anti-PAP reporting and become a real alternative media
Everyone at the TOC Face to Face forum agreed that the media should be fair, balanced and independent. We can’t rely on the Straits Times to live up to this aspiration. So TOC and TR are our best hope. Yet the kind of anti-PAP agenda they pursue (esp TR) goes against the very wishes of the people. If being pro-PAP is bad, being anti-PAP is just as bad.
4. That “opp” parties reach out to non-hardcore supporters.
It would appear that the ranks of “opp” supporters are filled with the disaffected, disenchanted, disillusioned and those seething with anger– ex-ISA detainees, civil society “activists”, people who have lost their jobs or have been disadvantaged by PAP policies, outspoken critics who have an axe to grind with the PAP, etc.
It’s easy to get such people to vote against PAP since they already hate PAP. But what about the ordinary people, the heartlanders? Can “opp” parties reach them, win them over?
5. That “opp” parties can unite to fight the PAP as a coalition, and challenge PAP for the right to form a new Govt.
If more than 42 seats are contested, there is no reason why we can’t have a non-PAP unity govt with a simple majority. So is there any reason why Singapore can’t have a new Govt at the next election? Do opp parties believe their candidates are not worthy? Do they believe they should not be elected? If not, why only run to be in opposition?
6. That Gopalan, Francis Seow and other exiles stop their long-distance attacks.
They’re getting to be irritating. And they do not know what politics really means. Here’s a clue: politics is not solely about fighting for civil liberties, stinging criticisms of LKY or bringing down the PAP.
It’s much more important than that.
Politics is about forming the next Govt. To do that, parties have to gain voters’ confidence that they can do a better job than the PAP. However well you can run down the PAP, it doesn’t prove to voters that you are better than the PAP.
7.That “opp” politicians do not get sued for defamation in the next GE.
While our defamation regime is unfair in that it awards such high damages to PAP politicians, the fact is that lawsuits start only because “opp” parties resort to pointed criticisms (and sometimes personal attacks) of PAP ministers during campaigns.
Here’s a tip: The ones who cheer you the most when you make such personal attacks are the hardcore supporters who would vote you anyway. So you don’t need to make such attacks to get their votes.
Those you need to win over will not be impressed by how well you can criticise the PAP. They are looking for someone who deserves their vote over the PAP candidate. So they want to know what you can do better than the PAP candidate, how you can make life better for them.
So should your focus be on stinging criticisms of the PAP? Or on what voters will get if they vote for you?
8. That the media stop patronising Eugene Tan, the so-called political observer.
The guy doesn’t know anything about politics, let alone politics in Singapore.
9. That “opp” parties run more marketing-savvy election campaigns in 2011
Enough of the boring campaign posters with passport-style pictures, rallies dominated by anti-PAP jokes and jibes but no real substance, staid wordy manifestos which put readers to sleep, stiff and boring Political Broadcasts, etc.
Think iconic Obama-style posters, multimedia manifestos, giant mascots, rock concerts and a party atmosphere at rallies, with Q & A dialogue with the crowd (or if not allowed, with selected members of the audience or the party on stage in the style of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?), entertaining Political Broadcasts (rap-style?), etc.
Marketing is about standing out from the crowd!
10. That “opp” parties stop whining
Electoral boundary changes and gerrymandering. Serial numbers on ballot papers. Libel suits. Biased MSM coverage. Stiff election deposits. GRC system. Cooling-off period. Political Donations Act. Political videos ban. Etc, etc, etc.
The list of grievances “opp” politicians have seems endless.
I’m not saying they’re not real. Indeed, it’s very clear that the rules of the game in Singapore are loaded against small and weak political parties. But:
A. The PAP will never change the rules to make it easier for you, no matter how much you complain; and
B. The more you complain, the more excuses you find for underperformance. Any motivational coach will tell you that.
My wish is that “opp” politicians suck it in, and just do it. Chiam has done it 6x, Low 3x, JBJ 2x. So it can be done.
More importantly, “opp” parties should learn what the rules of the game in Singapore require of them, and act accordingly. Flyweights don’t take on heavyweights in boxing, and neither should they in politics.
11. That we have a real General Election in 2011.
Not a mass by-election, as has been the case in the last 50 years.