How Not To Be A Politician

“Politician” Alex Tan released a Facebook note that illustrates just how far some parties and many of their members have to go before Singapore can have a genuine choice at the polls. There’s lots of lessons for budding young “opposition” politicians out there.

1. The note describes juicy details of Alex’s confrontations, altercations and rejections with SPP, SDA, NSP, WP, SDP and RP in his desperation to run in GE 2011. But nowhere does it describe his concern for residents of Ang Mo Kio, nowhere does it show he cares about them and wants to help them, nowhere does it talk about any grassroots work or community work that he has done for them.

The result: Alex got 30% of the vote, ie the “ugly” opposition supporters only.

In other words, the majority of voters are quite discerning– they know when a politician is serious and genuinely wants to help them, and when the guy just has an axe to grind.

The lesson to be learnt is– being anti-PAP is not enough, wanting to speak up for Singaporeans is not enough. If you really want to be elected, you must be sincere, you must care about residents, you must spend time with them, you must do groundwork years in advance.

Else, don’t bother running for election. You are wasting your time and the voters’.

2. Alex is a very very angry young man. Most of his “blogging” life seems to have been spent on flaming the PAP, fighting running battles with PAP supporters.

Such a shame, the waste of energy. Instead of directing the energy towards developing himself as a public speaker, to understanding how politics works, to doing community work to raise his profile within his target constituency, etc he chose to engage in flame wars with YPAP.

The lesson to learn is– winning flame wars gain you nothing. Posting the most number of anti-PAP remarks (under different monikers) gains you nothing. Being able to play cat and mouse with YPAP supporters bent on deleting your posts gains you nothing. It is much better to spend time developing yourself as a politician.

3. He describes his last-minute decision to run in Ang Mo Kio and being subsequently played out by RP, which resulted in him having to raise $96,000 online almost overnight to get the election deposit. He also describes how his campaign was under-manned, under-planned and underwhelming.

What I find amazing is that he was able to raise the deposit at all. That has to go down as a record.

Notwithstanding this, what is the point of running an ill-prepared and under-planned campaign? All the money, all the blood sweat and tears– for what?

In the US candidates raise money well in advance of their campaigns. They start asking for donations, putting their campaign staff together two years before the election. In fact, the party sometimes looks at how much a candidate has raised to decide whether they should even enter him in their nomination race. Because they know political campaigning is a serious business. It requires serious planning, serious money, serious effort and commitment.

Singapore politicians have to learn this. They have to learn that political campaigns cannot be run on a shoestring budget. They have to understand that one seeks donations BEFORE an election, not AFTER an election. They have to understand that donations are NOT just for the purpose of funding election deposits, but they are meant to fund an entire campaign.

A Note To Alex (If He Reads This)

I admire your guts at willing to stand up against the PAP. I also admire your ability to raise so much money so quickly and put together an election campaign so quickly. But one does not get into politics and stand for election just because one is full of anger and really hates the PAP.

I would suggest that you spend the next four years understanding what politics is really about, what the purpose of politics is, what you really need to do to get elected. I hope you will be able to change and improve yourself in these four years, that you can find a party whose philosophy you understand and believe in, and you can change from an angry young man to a serious politician.


About politicalwritings

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 How Not To Be A Politician

  1. Pingback: Political Fund Consultant » Blog Archive » How Not To Be A Politician | Political Writings

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  3. Brian says:

    Thanks for writing this. I agree with almost everything you said, especially the more constructive use of energy and level of preparation required.

  4. Godwin says:

    This young man doesn’t realise that he has benefitted from the system of meritocracy in Singapore, and chooses only to focus on not receiving the breaks in life he imagined himself entitled to.

    There is no real substance in his “politics”, just hatred and jealousy; fortunately, unlike him the voter know that a nation’s direction needs to be more constructive than that.

    In his immaturity he has committed political suicide by failing to keep a public promise he made:

    I totally agree with your final paragraph: he himself needs to know what he has to offer in his political vision before he puts himself up for election. He needs to know that people will not vote for him simply because they hate the same things he does, but because he can provide a better alternative.

  5. Well says:

    At least he gave AMK residents a chance to vote and 30% who voted for him is not a small percentage – at least close to some of the presidential candidates. That alone tell a lot about ground sentiments.

  6. Henry says:

    Politics is not about helping people or taking a stand.
    It is about taking control and gaining great influence to enhance your own goals.
    That goal is ultimately monetary.
    Popular policies are merely a means to an end.

    The notion that politics is about helping the poor or to right an imbalance is just a strategy to achieve political ground… with the ultimate goal of controlling and influencing wealth creation for self. The party is the machinery that helps bring this about.

    Even the communist politicians enjoyed the luxuries, for themselves.

  7. edisonlim says:

    From my 18 years old of immature minds point of views
    in the first place , you should not even think about elected or not elected…hmm
    i think the most simplest way i can think of is to treat everyone as brothers and sisters, like your family, even if you hate that fellow, you still have to treat them as your family.
    because i am sure everyone willing to listen in a more relax manner.
    i am sure you dun scold or whack your parents when you talk to them. đŸ˜‰

    same context in a electoral division, treated all resident as your family, once you got this mindset, you will stayed connected becuz you share the love with them – the family love. I am sure when family members in troubles, you will save them =)

    having this family mindset in mind, i sure everyone happy.

    of course, this is my immature point of views, feel free to correct and enlighten me =)

  8. Kelvin Tan says:

    “In other words, the majority of voters are quite discerning– they know when a politician is serious and genuinely wants to help them, and when the guy just has an axe to grind”

    I wonder when will the majority of Singaporeans realized that every politician is motivated by self interest.

    The question confronting voters should not be “Which politician cares for me the most?” but rather, “How should I vote to make sure that he knows it is in his best interest to care for me?”

    • Godwin says:

      I don’t expect a politician to “care for me”.

      To me, the question is: which candidate’s/party’s vision/ proposed policies are most closely aligned with my own views and interest?

      If you have no vision but only hate, no proposal but only vitriol, then why should I vote for you?

  9. yh says:

    Reblogged this on why so like that one? and commented:
    Alex Tan and the Reform Party stood in my constituency.
    As much as I love my democratic rights, I would have preferred to sleep instead of voting during GE2011. What a total waste of time. Actually, I might have voted for them (RP) if I didn’t bother to make my way to Clementi to attend their rally. Attending their rally, hearing their vision, plans and speaking to one candidate in person, that made my decision not to vote for them. No wonder AMK had the highest percentage of spoilt votes (3%) in the GE.

  10. A.M says:

    Its all about voting for lesser evil. I am a AMK GRC resident and voted for RP. I would even vote for monkeys if opposition parties put up them as candidates against PAP who is selling out our nation.

    Voting for a angry young man is certainly better than to a traitor.

  11. Rainbow says:

    I think Alex did a good thing running against the PAP. At least their resources couldn’t be redeployed to Aljunied due to the contest in AMK. The PM also had to canvass for votes at his own MRT station instead of snooping around in Aljunied.

    Whatever his intentions were, Alex did a good job for the Opposition as a bogeyman against the PAP.

  12. Bent says:

    Alex is too straight and honest to a fault, he washes dirty linens in public, this is not healthy.

    To me, if you dont win a seat, you are rendered useless. So the clear objective is to win a seat in parliament and represent the people. I believe Alex if he won a seat, he would be asking very difficult questions in parliament.

    He has balls, he has sense but anger got all over him. I believe it is his overwhelming justice that he is trying all his might to go all the way out to pick on PAP. Alex needs to calmn down and detach his anger and emotion, possibly talk less but do more. If he is against all the parties, how is he going to stand???

    About AMK GRC, 40% percent of Singaporeans not happy with government, so why only 30% voted RP? This whole country is brewing a lot of potential problems and getting out of hand and you still want to give more votes to LHL for what?

    1. Massive import of foreigners still on. In long run, they will replace your job or depress your pay.
    2. No affordable housing, prices still going up. CPF money not enough to buy a flat, not much in ordinary account and CPF withdrawal limit and age keep going up.
    3. Massive foreigners brought to Singapore, given scholarships, tuition grants, later given toilet paper PRs upon graduation and new citizenships.
    4. All other problems with jams, erps, trains blah blah….

    These key problems are obvious and in long term, Singaporeans will suffer. But remember this, this is brought about my LHL and his team. And you gave him 70% to continue to screw you?

  13. Pingback: Was it worth it? Is it worth it? | Political Writings

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