Why the lack of defenders, PAP supporters?

Belmont Lay
SingaporeScene

A majority of Singaporeans voted for the People's Action Party. (Photo courtesy of Terence Lee)

In a new column called "The Flip Side", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society in his weekly musings. To be taken with a pinch of salt and with parental permission advised. In his first post, he talks about the disturbing silence of the majority that supported Singapore's ruling party.

Hi, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I regret to inform you that the People's Action Party you painstakingly built across 50 years has unfortunately turned into a lightning rod for flaming in the eyes of the young, savvy Internet generation.

Hardly a week goes by these days without someone from your political party causing a bit of a stir. And that moment gets transmitted all over the place primarily through something called "Facebook" and "Twitter".

There could be many reasons for this.

PAP MPs might have been overprotected over the years by a docile state media, so when they falter they look particularly bad.

Or your fellow comrades might be Luddites tending to avoid computers in the belief these manifest "viruses" contagious to people.

But the chief reason might be PAP MPs having developed a natural ability to put one's foot into one's own mouth.

Just this week, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing committed a political faux pas. In our generation's parlance, this is what is popularly known as a "FAIL".

Asked by a member of the public during a community dialogue if lower ministerial salaries might produce unmotivated ministers, Chan answered with this gem of a failed wisecrack:

"(For example,) you go to Peach Garden, you eat the S$10 XO Sauce chye tow kuay (fried carrot cake), you can be quite happy right? Because you are satisfied with the service and so on. On the other hand, you can go to a hawker centre, even if they charge you S$1.50, you might not want to eat it if the quality is not good."

As far as bad analogies go, this one takes the cake.

This analogy is so bad, it is like trying to milk kittens for cheese pies.

See what I mean? Bad analogies like the one I just proffered is almost as bad as Major-General Chan's failed attempt.

But his is worse. Partly because his higher-than-higher education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was under a scholarship bearing your name. I only managed to hold fort at the National University of Singapore with an ill-gotten Arts degree.

However, as awful as these things are, there are indeed worse.

The viciousness and savagery in which the online crowd tears into the PAP MPs is something of a phenomenon to behold.

It is like watching Singapore Idol, but more wildly entertaining, provocative and sinful to partake in.

Disturbing silence

So, I don't know if you've noticed this worrying trend, but it seems that the majority of people -- about 60 percent of them who voted for your party in the General Election of 2011 hardly seem concerned enough to come out into the open to defend you and your comrades when they come under heavy fire online.

Now, hear me out: This Silent Majority is truly disturbing. They are the ones who should be there for your party. Through good and the bad. Thick and thin. During and after general elections.

Look, your people at the PAP are pretty good at organising grassroots activities. I remember vividly, during GE 2011, busloads of retirees and senior citizens were transported to nomination centres all over Singapore to cheer on your party.

It was truly amazing to see senior citizens exert themselves in the name of politics. And later packed away back on the bus with catered lunches.

So why can't your people, young, old and otherwise, be motivated to show up online and take on the PAP haters?

Why leave your office bearers, who are representatives of Singaporeans, in the lurch during times of online crises?

This matter is of utmost importance. You need to look into it.

The opposition has already gained a foothold online.

Take Workers' Party Chen Show Mao, for example.

He is beguiling, wide-eyed, charismatic, eloquent, effectively bilingual, selfless, determined and social media-savvy.

And when he speaks in Parliament, he has everyone eating out of his hands.

When he updates his status on Facebook, he creates a virtual stampede to see who can "Like" his post first.

Half the ladies on my Facebook friends list are saying they fantasise about the day they meet the Workers' Party MP in a dark, lonely alley.

So that they can have the chance to converse with him in their half-past six Mandarin without anyone within earshot and feeling embarrassed that they are only mastering the Chinese language now to communicate with this Taiwan-born maverick.

The other half, more or less, are quite convinced they want to have his babies.

It's safe to say if this trend carries on, it won't bode well for your party in the future.

Because I just checked the calender, it's not even past January 2012, yet so much has happened.

I don't have the solution and I doubt you do, too. As far as I can tell, you're not even really on Facebook.

Maybe, the least anyone in PAP can do is to take a cue from Chen Show Mao.

Then they can start to be half as awesome.

Belmont Lay is one of the editors of New Nation, an online Singaporean publication specialising in news that are 50% real and commentaries that are 100% genuine.