The Importance of Punggol-East To SDP

Despite a pretext of opposition ‘collaboration‘, there is a real and valid reason why SDP must contest Punggol East, even though it will likely lose.

Because SDP needs to stop WP before it becomes impossible.

If SDP lets WP contest Punggol East unmolested, it will acknowledge that WP is the #1 Opposition party in Singapore.

There can only be two outcomes then: if WP wins in a straight contest, SDP is doomed. WP will have 7 seats in Parliament and still keep its two NCMP seats, while SDP not only gets nothing, but becomes further submerged in voters’ consciousness.

Even if WP doesn’t win, SDP gains nothing from giving way to WP.

On the other hand, by contesting SDP makes almost certain that WP will not win the election. In strategy we call this a blocking move. You sacrifice one of your own just to make sure that your opponent cannot make further gains. It is basically a strategy not only to deny WP another seat in Parliament, but to deny WP another chance to look good in front of voters at large.

If SDP polls higher than WP, they will brag that Singaporeans want their brand of ‘opposition’ rather than WP’s meek and mild opposition. Even if SDP polls lower than WP, they’ll still say it’s a credible showing, while secretly celebrating that WP does not get yet another seat in Parliament. They would also have raised their profile, especially now that Dr Chee is no longer a bankrupt and can speak at election rallies. It will be his golden chance to address Singaporeans at large after almost 15 years.

In the unlikely event that SDP lose their election deposit, they’ll claim that PM Lee denied them the opportunity to build a fan base in Punggol East before he pressed his ‘panic’ button.

So you see how important Punggol East is to SDP.

Test of party branding, my foot! This is politics, this is strategy. WP’s growth comes at the expense of SDP and all other parties in Singapore, even the PAP. SDP is doing the right thing, for its own interest.

Other pretenders like Desmond Lim and Botak Pwee are out to either redeem themselves or prove a point. Only SDP is playing strategy.

The result appears inevitable: PAP will win. The only question is, who will be Ms Punggol-East runner up in this beauty contest. Sadly, the runner up does not get to become Ms Punggol-East in the event the winner is unable to fulfill her obligations. But that’s politics for you.

PS> NSP must be regretting its decision now to rule itself out of the contest at an early stage. In politics you never ever rule out anything, unless you are forced. Ha!

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29 Responses to The Importance of Punggol-East To SDP

  1. bongkinchen says:

    Neither WP or SDP or any other alternative besides the incumbent will be the first-past-the-post. Remember there is no final run-off !!! The first MINORITY to pass the post would probably be the incumbent as in the last Presidential Election. The principle of true majority with more than 50% as in well tested democracy is therefore VERY BADLY FLAW in our election process. So how do you unify this SMC or even the Nation without undisputed majority elected support ?? The FINAL-RUN-OFF must be implemented quickly for our TOTAL UNITY or we undoubtedly risk tearing the nation apart !! This is basic POLITICAL INTEGRITY and MORALITY for the elected right to govern. Are the incumbents politically and morally incompetent in insidiously perpetuating politcal power in this regard ?? You tell me !!

    You know, I know, Singaporeans know that. Why the political circus clowns don’t know about multi-corner election tussle in splitting votes ???? Is it really about political “RE-BRANDING”? More like, “POLITCAL DE-BRANDING”!!! The electorate will never, never, ever forget how these political morons help the incumbent to retain Punggol SMC exactly like the last Presidential Election !!!! Political Idiots never can learn. The nincompoops just have to repeat the mistake !!!!

    CONSIDER THIS : As the ultimate tactical to win solution in this Punggol husting, all the Alternatives should MUTUALLY AGREE and SERIOUSLY SUPPORT in imploring Dr TAN C B to contest in a one to one against the incumbent as an INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE or under ANY ALTERNATIVE PARTY BANNER he chooses. This ensures avoiding the acrimonious political horse-trading and idiotic multi-corner tussle amongst the bloated moronic prima donnas who can’t see beyond their big noses in how to win this by-election for the ALTERNATIVES. Who is unhappy at this suggestion, pl come out with a better proposal ??

    Enough of soudbites, practical solutions are more needed. These are strategic practical poltical branding to imbue the thoughts of the electorate.

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  3. JG says:

    If SDP is really confident that within the last few years, it has built up a credible party brand and like you said, wants to do a “blocking tactic”, then it should contest.

    But lets consider the downside too.

    Has it really built up a credible party brand? Depends on who you ask, I guess. My take is that around 30% of popualtion are hard-core opposition. Some probably prefer SDP’s combative style than WP’s more restraint style. Probalby another 30% of population are pro-PAP, maybe 40% silent majority, afraid of rocking the boat but if given a credible opposition, may go for it. I’m not sure that the SDP has enough appeal to this 40%. Putting up papers, giving constant press releases score you points with the 30% hard-core oppo. I’m not sure that the silent 40% is ready for such a radical change in public housing policy, like SDP is proposing, for eg.

    So if the result of a 3-way fight is say, PAP 45%, WP 30%, SDP 20%; isn’t this going to be embarassing for the SDP? I mean, after SDA got only 5% in the 3-way fight, essentially the party’s brand went downhill too.

    Also SDP needs to think carefully sometimes, before it opens its mouth. It had said publicly the reason why it may want to join in — SDP said it had put up many proposals in recent months (including on public housing) and feels that now is the time to put it to the people so they can show their choice. So if SDP polls #3 — what does that mean then? Will CSJ and gang be humble enough to say that we need to go back to the drawing board and revamp ALL our policies? Or will they now say, no, our policies are great, the people didn’t vote against us .. the logic is beyond defiance isn’t it?

    I know that among the many who generally support the opposition movement, some wants to see WP taken down a peg or two. If it were me, I’d bid my time for that fight. I don’t think any party is in such a position yet. And Ponggol is not the most appropriate constituency for this kind of fight.

    Say what you want, but the facts are this — every opposition party was given a chance to make his case to the voters in GE2011. Among the opposition parties, only WP did. And in virtually all contests, there were no 3-corner fights. In other words, the people rejected the SDA, SDP.

    The question now should not be how does any other party elbow WP aside.

    The more important question is : how do I expand my support so that in the next GE, my support grows. If you do not do that, you’ll keep falling a distant third in 3-corner fights and lose even in straight fights in the future.

    • Knowing SDP will not win doesn’t matter.

      Apart from the blocking tactic, which is extremely important, SDP will use its rallies to air all its policy papers and proposals.

      SDP has been denied media coverage of its alternative healthcare plan, alternative housing plan, alternative economic policies, etc.

      What better way than to expound on them at nightly rallies where the mainstream media has no choice but to report on them and give them equal coverage as PAP and WP?

      This is worth a lot more than $16,500 even if SDP loses its deposit, which is highly unlikely.

      Perhaps as a result of such national airing, more people will see that SDP has changed from a human-rights centric party to one that has credible ideas of how to run healthcare, housing and other areas.

      Is it not clear why SDP must take part in this by-election, win or lose?

      • kitsura says:

        SDP should run, it would give liberals a choice in party. Right now it’s only the extreme right (PAP) and right leaning (WP).

      • George Lam says:

        I see your point.

      • JG says:

        If SDP comes in a distant third, having encouraged SDP to run, what now would you like SDP to do ? What should SDP take from the message ?

        Since SDP has foisted its “Public Housing program” and all its ideas as the reason for it to now jump in, does that mean that SDP needs to go back to the drawing board, tear up its ideas and cook something new?

        No? Because some 30% like those left leaning ideas?

        No? Because the results can be discounted because its a multi-cornered fight? But SDP knew well, going into the BE, that this is going to be a multi-cornered fight and yet it stated that its reasons for running is to put its agend and program to a vote.
        If win, then accept the results. If lose, discount it?

        Or maybe, it doesn’t matter. Because if SDA can get wolloped with just 5% of votes and still jump in again, then elections and BE are just tikam-tikam game that anyone can jump in. No wonder reporters are asking CSJ today if they are contesting Punggol “for fun”.

        See .. I’m not opposed to SDP running per se. My point is if it comes in a distant third, what next? I don’t think SDP (and maybe some of its vociforous supporters) have thought this through enough. To me, “free publicity” per se is not good enough. SDP, SDA, KJ had its fair share of free publicity during GE2011 too.

        If I’m running SDP and I’m dead sold that going left is good for Singapore and what Singapore needs, then I’ll want to stake my battle in the most “left leaning” districts. Train my guns there. Choose such a candidate. Educate the voters there of my ideas. Work the ground. To SDP’s credit, thats precisely why they went after Holland / Bukit Timah area on the presumption that these middle/upper class voters are left-leaning (I’m not too sure about this presumption though).

        Its like in the USA. Democrats let left-leaning politicians like Kucinich to run on “solid blue” districts. When they’re contesting in red districts, get someone who’s pro-gun, conservative, ie. slightly right leaning.

        Maybe SDP doesn’t think that it will be distant third. That its support is as good, or nearly as good, as WP. If that’s the case, this is a good reason to jump in.

        But again, if the results validate SDP, well and good.
        But if SDP ends up distant third (ok, not as bad as SDA’s 5%, but say 15%), what should SDP read into the result? Wake up call, isn’t it? Will this damage the brand, when it contests in other GRCs in the future, even in straight fights with the PAP? Is SDP prepared to move right, if the results is a distant third? No, never?

        That’s my point. Think it through before jumping in. Not because of WP, or PAP .. but because SDP needs a STRATEGY.

      • I assure you sdp has thought it through.

        I also do not believe sdp will come in distant third.

        Notwithstanding this, politics is not without risk. Do you think pap will sure win? With aim and Palmergate and a brand new face? It seems they don’t want to field their ministerial-calibre candidate. Do you think pap has thought it through too.

        Everyone bears risk. Pap will take the risk of an election while the scandal and aim saga are still fresh on voters minds. So what’s wrong with sdp taking a calculated risk? If you don’t take risks, you won’t get anywhere in politics. That is not the same as tikam tikam.

      • tts says:

        I agree with JG.. unless Vincent is the candidate there is a real chance SDP will poll in the low tens.

        But i also agree with PW.. eventually SDP needs to stand against WP to survive long-term.

        And now is a good time. Even if SDP polls disastrously, they can raise their hands up, eat humble pie, go back to their turf to do the groundwork (very impt), well in time for the next GE. Electors’ memories are short.

        The reality is as a smaller party maintaining the status quo is not enough. SDP needs to distinguish itself from the others to have a chance of survival.

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  6. leong says:

    A fairer way is to have a run-off for the top 2 candidates in the event none gets a simple majority.
    But knowing this Govt, this suggestion is far fetched for the PAP. Nationwide ,instead of implementing the proportional syst ( they would have lost their two-third majority in the last GE), the came out with the out-of-this-world-genius of the GRC system in perpetuating their rule so much so that 60% of the popular can garner them more than 90% of the parliamentary seats.
    Unless more GRCs fall to the opposition, it looks like the status quo of the unfair electoral system,
    which is under the purview of the PM’s office, is se to continue.

  7. The says:

    One other possible outcome – despite the 3 corner fight, WP wins. There are just two many issues, bad press, AIM, Palmergate, etc.

  8. Descended says:

    GOOD – TAN CHENG BOCK PLEASE…..

    CONSIDER THIS : As the ultimate tactical to win solution in this Punggol husting, all the Alternatives should MUTUALLY AGREE and SERIOUSLY SUPPORT in imploring Dr TAN C B to contest in a one to one against the incumbent as an INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE or under ANY ALTERNATIVE PARTY BANNER he chooses. This ensures avoiding the acrimonious political horse-trading and idiotic multi-corner tussle amongst the bloated moronic prima donnas who can’t see beyond their big noses in how to win this by-election for the ALTERNATIVES. Who is unhappy at this suggestion, pl come out with a better proposal ??

    • The name of the game is not to get Tan Cheng Bock into Parliament. For SDP, it’s to establish a beach-head. For WP, it’s to expand their beach-head. For PAP, it’s to defend their territory.

      Getting TCB into Parliament does nothing for anyone, except TCB.

  9. Amie says:

    1. If by contesting in this by-election SDP wants to prevent WP’s clout from getting too large, that’s a petty and selfish reason. It could also be a struggle against PAP/WP and cause them to lose voters’ confidence in their ability to look at the big picture (myself included). If they truly want to establish themselves, they should do their groundwork in their areas now before GE2016.

    2. SDP’s policies may be viable, but Singaporeans are mostly averse to drastic changes, and this is likely to be the reason that Singaporeans did not vote for them. I think that WP’s ‘meek’ opposition style suits Singaporeans best because they raise certain points to keep PAP on their toes but not the unreasonable type of opposing for the sake of opposing.

    Postscript: I tend to support WP most of the times because their political style is most agreeable with what I think is correct.

  10. Francis says:

    The most important thing is for WP to run their GRC well, once that is achieved, come 2016, the myth of opposition held ward turning into slum will disappeared and people will vote to the party that held the same aspiration they feel.

  11. Better tomorrow says:

    Some hard facts to share… SDP Scores just 36.8% of the valid votes in contested wards during the last GE. WP, SPP and NSP scored 46.6%, 41.4% and 39.3% respectively. The bottom 2 opposition parties, RP and SDA, garners 31.5% and 30%.
    It is plain easy to see, SDP is in fact closer to the bottom rather than the top… What makes them think they are in similar footing with WP and hence qualified to make a blocking move?
    WP, irregardless of whether they have the current 6 or the possibly 7 MPs should they win this BE, is already the undisputed no 1 opposition in the history of Singapore ever since the Barisan Socalis days. So is the blocking move by SDP, a party that is not even in the same footing as WP or even SPP, sensible in the first place?
    SDP, under the leadership of CSJ, is often myopic and unaware of the big picture. They always think they have a big fan base who are big followers of their ideology…. But the fact is… For all their eftorts, their share of the votes is still nearer to near hopeless parties like SDA and RP!
    There is a chinese saying 天时地利人和.
    天时 is shared by all the opposition parties for the opportunity to have a BE.
    The fact that this BE falls in a ward previously contested by WP, means that only WP enjoys the 地利. In addition, it is in near proximity to WP stronghold, as compared to SDP, who in recent years tends to contest more in the northern and western parts of Spore.
    As for 人和, the above illustration already shows that SDP is way off the mark.
    Going against this saying is called 逆天而行.
    To argue that SDP can escape without any damage by saying that they don’t have enougn time is laughable… They can jolly well just stay out of the contest if they are ill prepared.
    The results, as well as the rally turnout, easily points to the fact that there are way more WP supporters than SDP. If SDP comes out selfishly just to block WP instead of fighting against tge imcubent, i am sure SDP is commiting political suicide. If this is consider strategy, then this is a stretegy of the lowest grade. Just look at the other major forums and feels the sentiment first before u endorse such a naive and laughable attempt at justifying SDP’s ‘strategy’.

    • We shall soon find out whose analysis is correct. What I do know is that things have changed since 2011, and many are disappointed with WP’s performance in Parliament.

    • JG says:

      I agree with your analysis, just as I argued similarly above.

      But the thing that struck me in this (and other online) debates so far is how vociferous SDP supporters also are. They genuinely believe that their party has wider appeal (than is assumed or anecdotally argued). They genuinely believe that “their time has come”. They almost can see no wrong with what CSJ is doing – under all these, there’s a brilliant strategy.

      I think they, just like everyone else, is entitled to their belief. Given this fact, I think that sooner or later, the “pact” that was made in GE2011 (ie. no 3-corner fights) may not be so easily made in GE2016. The worst thing that can happen then is that all the parties sabotage each other and hand a near clean sweep again to the PAP. As such, I’m coming to the conclusion that its probably more than a silver lining that we have a 3 or 5-cornered fight now. Let the chips fall where they may and then everyone re-calibrate accordingly. After all, only 1 SMC is at stake and even that is lean-PAP to begin with.

      Just like we had a 3-way fight for Presidential elections and until now, many did not forgive TKL for being so stubborn. His credibility went down several notches. Similarly, the chips will fall where they may with Punggol BE too.

      The only thing I hope is that the result causes everyone to re-calibrate. Yes, if WP is shown to be not the preferred opposition party, then let it be more humble in dealing with other parties in the future. Let it learn to improve and appeal to a wider group.

      But I also hope that SDP and more importantly, the electorate, learns something too. The point of my post above (what if SDP distant 3rd) is that there can be a downside to SDP if SDP proves to be a distant 3rd. I personally think that CSJ is a loose canon and sooner or later, the party will have to decide if SDP is bigger than CSJ. I hope SDP supporters can be objective at that time. Just like we like to say that Singapore is bigger than the PAP or the Lee family and there’s a blind spot there. Similarly, I hope fervent supporters can see the blind spot too.

      And more importantly, I hope the electorate will continue to mature. In the USA, when confronted with a prospect for a 3rd party fight, the electorate is matured enough to know that a vote for 3rd party is a vote for democrats (if you’re a republican) and vice-versa. That’s why in Nov’2012 election, although Virginia and Colorado had 3rd party in the ballot, they polled <2%. In Virginia's case, the 3rd party was a highy popular, "son of Virginia" guy. USA electorate didn't reach this stage of poitical maturity overnight. It takes time. The big lesson was 1992 elections, where Ross Perot as 3rd party, split the Republican votes and handed the Presidency to Clinton, a democrat for the first time in 20-30 years. Similarly, democracy in Sgp is young and this is the kind of maturation we'll have to go through. I think we will learn – today, if TKL, TJS, TCB and TT stand for election again, I'm quite sure fervent TKL supporters will think twice, maybe even some fervent TJS supporters. This is part of the process of maturing. Hopefully, in time for GE2016, so that when (not if, but when) 3-corner fights happen again, this time the voters vote with their head, not just their hearts.

  12. reddotsg says:

    “Because SDP needs to stop WP before it becomes impossible.”
    Hello, SDP fighting for who ah? Itself or for the people?

  13. Nico says:

    SDP has both reasons to enter or refrain from entering this BE. Like what PW said,it is an outcome of risk assessment. It can either stop WP from expanding or expand itself. We can only tell on 27 Jan. My feel is it will be a very close fight between WP and PAP while SDP may lose its deposit. RP and SDA will definitely lose theirs should they decide to join the warring states.

  14. rudeshock says:

    SDP played its cards well, gaining political capital without contesting. WP must be regretting not putting up a stronger candidate. The rest (including PAP) all kena sabo.

    • Wp regrets nothing. Sdp just made a fool of itself.

    • The says:

      Gaining political capital? What have you been smoking? CSJ just squandered whatever pitiful capital it had with his ill-considered antics.

      I think CSJ should also pull out of SDP if SDP is going to have any future.

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