Smart strategy needs the support of soft and hard power. Ironically, the opposition has nothing of them. This is the fact and the reality of Singapore politics. All state institutions are giving hardware support to the PAP. The PAP also receive software support from the media, boundary redrawing, use of supercomputer and consultants (including social media consultants).
Sadly, the opposition has to work harder than the PAP to gain support and spread their messages across. This is the hard, unfair way but voters will only appreciate your efforts through your hard work. This is like the poor non-elite students facing more difficulties than a rich elite student. If you look at the struggle of Bernard Chen (Workers’ Party), you will know what I mean.
Singapore is a strange country. When we say we want to level the playing field, we should give opportunity to neighbour school students. If they perform well, their effort should be recognised. However, the society is doing the opposite. We will give opportunity to the elite rather than a non-elite. We don’t trust the neighbour school students can outperform the elite students and run an effective government.
Hence, for the opposition, besides working hard, there is no other alternatives.
Just imagine how much tax money has been spent on People’s Association and grassroots activities. Before election kicks start, the People’s Action Party has already invested millions of dollars on their candidates. All state machinery plus free media coverage, every PAP candidate has already received at least S$1 million political investment. For the opposition, it is almost zero investment. Candidates have to come out with their own money to fund their elections.
As a result, PAP is not only awarding their candidates million-dollar reward through directorship or political positions, long before that PAP has already invested million-dollar on their candidates.
To unseat the PAP, without the support of hardware and software, the only way is to work all the way up - a stupid but slightly effective way. One can only win them in spirit.
Expectation of supporters and candidates
Many analyses focus on the voters - supporters and non-supporters. There is a swing of opposition supporters or middle ground voters to the PAP. Do the opposition candidates also feel the same? Many of the opposition candidates are first timers. Do they expect to be elected in the first time?
Perhaps, they are more psychologically prepared to be defeated rather than to be elected. Just like a football team, supporters always want to see their team win. But players know too well about their chances. Whether we like it or not, opposition team is challenging one of the best run (partial free, undemocratic) governments in the world. It is like you are up against Brazil or Germany in the World Cup.
It is important young and first time candidates from WP and Singapore Democratic Party will stand again in the next election. Supporters must continue to give supports, perhaps even more supports, to the opposition.
Sorting, Peer Effect and the Asian thinking
Many analyses also use the western models to explain the election result. It can be a ‘sorting effect’ where pioneer citizens, SG50, CPF, boundary redrawing, creation of GRCs and SMCs take place. It can also be a ‘peer effect’ like LKY as celebrity, fear of change of government, small opposition in parliament, etc. Both models exist in GE2015.
Modern western political thinking take place after Enlightenment where we see different political models appear. Singapore voters are defined as ‘rational, pragmatic and fair’. It then brings Singapore to the period of early Enlightenment - utilitarianism. Morally speaking, the PAP believes they are practising
“it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong" #2
No matter 60% or 70% mandate, the PAP thinks they are doing this "fundamental axiom". In GE2011, the greatest number decreased. And so, they adjusted their policies. As a consequence, the greatest number improved to 70% in GE2015.
However, utilitarianism is not the only model. There are different moral measures of right and wrong. Unfortunately, the PAP’s education and training are still following this old tradition. And Singaporeans, including the elites and middle class, believe so.
Further to the western models, we have to realise that Singapore is an Asian society. This is why we say we are exception. Western models cannot fully apply here. We may not have enlightenment at all. Or, we can just jump start to a new model where pragmatism is more important than democracy. We still prefer to remain at the lower end of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
As explained in my previous post, 长期一党专政，新加坡无法摆脱行动党的奴性#3, if given freedom to leave Jia family (The Dream of Red Chamber), slave servants still want to remain as slaves in the elite family. They believe life outside the Jia family is substandard and their status as a free person is even lower than a slave in the elite family. They prefer to die rather than force to leave the family as a free person.
This dilemma may help to explain the result of GE2015.