Why the opposition lost and why it is completely the fault of opposition supporters.
I know many people are expecting me to give an analysis. So here it is. But be warned, you will not like it.
In March, I made a scarily accurate prediction of how GE2015 would turn out. For reference, see https://www.facebook.com/abanghazrul/posts/10152894622382655
While the dust settles and the opposition absorbs the results and reflect on it, supporters are seen angry at the majority who voted the PAP blaming them for dooming us for the next 5 years expecting a rise to cost of living, population, HDB homes and CPF minimum sum.
The fact of the matter is that as you point a finger at the majority who gave the incumbent the overwhelming mandate, there are 4 fingers pointing back. No, I’m not going to shout “boo PAP!”.
Here are 4 reasons why the opposition lost and why opposition supporters are ultimately responsible for it, not the majority who voted differently.
1. Elections are emotional. There is nothing logical about how people vote.
When the PAP tweaked the elections to include a Cooling Off Day, they claimed that it is to allow people to calm down and rationalise what was best for the country.
But people don’t vote based on logical reasoning. The majority won’t read party manifestos. And many of us can see how much of a motherhood statement the PAP manifesto was. The SDP and WP had well thought out proposals. They did their homework.
But people don’t grade you based on your manifesto. They vote according to how they feel about you. And while the SDP and WP candidates have very electable people, many of them even of a higher calibre than some of the PAP candidates, most people use their heart to vote. Let’s be honest. Opposition supporters also vote with their heart.
Thus, even if citizens are able to prove that the majority of PAP town councils are not transparent enough and that the AHPETC had been more transparent to the public than the PAP TCs, the constant barrage of perceived unanswered questions, helped along by a media that doesn’t tell the whole story (and all media does that even the alternatives), the PAP had been successful at creating doubt into the hearts of the voters nearly causing Aljunied to fall and causing Punggol East to return to the PAP fold by paper thin margins.
So please don’t blame others for voting with their hearts. They did what they felt was right, and so did you.
2. The opposition misread the ground sentiment and were over confident (except maybe WP) due to GE2011 results.
Many including myself had expected the opposition to earn at least one more GRC. Of course, I was expecting with my heart. My predictions which I made mostly with my head knew that there won’t be much gains.
The opposition didn’t sieve the noise from the signal. The swing votes in 2011 do not carry on to 2015. Like football, they should take each elections game by game. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of present form.
Had there been more feet on the ground, they would have had a clearer picture of how voters actually felt. The keywords here are sentiments and feelings, not what they think.
3. Unreasonable expectations from voters
The Punggol East 2013 By-Elections was a morale booster for the WP. The margin of victory was conclusive. And Lee Li Lian became probably the first MP who properly represented the majority of Singaporeans. A person who had to work really hard, so that she can get a better life. Who was from the N-levels, and took a part-time degree so that she can give her children a better life. Voters in Punggol East resonated with her because they felt she was closer to the ground than Dr Koh Poh Koon who was evidently detached to the ground.
They thought their lives would get better under the WP. And Li Lian probably had a baptism of fire being a first-time MP.
But after 2 and half years, many of the voters felt that life was not too much different as before. This resulted in disappointment.
The voters wanted change yesterday. But the voters are probably expecting miracles, like a unicorn.
The reality is, the first time MP had everything stacked against her. And perhaps, she realised very quickly that the job of an MP is extremely hard. Li Lian was still pursuing a part time degree. And if you’ve pursued one yourself, you know how difficult balancing a job, family and studies are. Let’s multiply that by 10x, because an MP’s job is not sing song shake leg.
I’ve seen MPs sacrifice so much for citizens. Their time with their families are affected. Many still have full-time jobs. So in the day, they work. Every week, they will meet residents. On the weekends, they have to appear at functions. Sometimes, in the middle of the week, they have to attend meetings related to their grassroots work.
The time was probably inconvenient for Li Lian to be an MP. At her age and point in life, she had many things that would prioritize ahead of the residents and I doubt it was easy for her to sacrifice so much.
This was clearly evident in her interview with the media after her loss. She rejected to take up the NCMP, and she hinted that she will likely have a full-time job. Her tone also described how she wished she can still go to the ground. She realised that maybe, being an MP is not for her. At least not yet.
This analysis matches what I know from Punggol East residents, that Li Lian was touch and go with resident’s needs. I can understand that, and I felt that residents had placed unicorn expectations on the first time MP.
4. Opposition supporters are simply not contributing to the opposition parties.
The fundamental difference between some PAP supporters and most Opposition supporters is that the PAP supporters are the feelers, the hands, and the feet of the party. Their strength in numbers allow the PAP to reach every constituent and canvas for votes. More importantly, they are crucial in organising MPS, and activities for residents on a weekly basis.
Many who supported the opposition do not go and volunteer for the opposition. They falsely believed that making all that noise will somehow sway people towards the opposition. The problem is, people don’t care what you say online. They don’t have the time to entertain you online.
And now that the opposition didn’t get a good result, they blame others.
All kinds of reasons!
Some of them include
– New citizens swinging votes
– The media is biased
– The PA is politicised
– The majority have no balls
Amazing. They blame everything except themselves.
Friends. Change does not happen because you marked an X in the box of the opposition. Change does not come easy and does not come without sacrifices. You cannot create change if you are sitting in your air-conditioned room debating in a Facebook thread how the PAP had utterly failed at improving your lives.
For change to happen, you, the opposition voter, must stop lamenting that the PAP has unfair advantage in the PA and PCF. Undoubtedly, they are the reason behind the PAP’s massive result.
You, the opposition voter must get up on your feet, and volunteer with the opposition. You don’t even have to sign up as a member. Because once you volunteer, you are your own grassroots. You are actually contributing to democracy and you are actualising the change you wanted.
Friends. You must be the change you want to see in yourselves.
The people of Hougang did it. In the absence of the PA, they created their own grassroots organisation in support of their elected MP. For 24 years, they remain loyal, because their own grassroots volunteers were able to help their MP feel the ground. Low Thia Kiang always knew when someone died in his ward because there were people who told him.
When they won Aljunied, they had to cannibalise what they did in Hougang into a far larger constituency. The problem was, they were stretched thin. They do not possess the same numbers as the PAP who worked really hard to win voters back with their grassroots going around canvassing support.
When WP won Punggol East, had the voters in Punggol East got up, went to Li Lian’s office, and helped her with the ground work, she would have probably remained as your MP today. The reality is that Punggol East did not answer the call of duty that Hougang did 24 years ago.
Now that you have returned to the PAP, you will never have a chance to be an opposition ward again. Because you know what happens to SMCs that win by razor thin margins? Just look at Joo Chiat.
So stop blaming the silent majority. Get up. Be the change you want to be. And trust me, you will see change happen once you do that.