11 May 2006

Endgame

In Chess, the endgame can be seen as mop-up action. The stage where you finish off the weakest and yet most significant pieces. The endgame in Go is similar - players move to clarify which formations are alive and dead.

Whiteshirt endgame

James Gomez. Frankly if I were the Whiteshirts, this would be exactly what I'd do anyway.

Fact: Authority and power inspire obedience and confidence
Fact: Singaporeans scored high in authority and tradition in the last World Values Survey
Fact: It will take about 25 years for this country to have a sufficient liberal electorate to make this strategy cost too much for the Whiteshirts.

In addition, it's also a gambit.
WP central committee offer no public comments about Gomez, show no support, no effort to work public opinion to frame Gomez as innocent: WP is discredited in the eyes of liberal voters.

WP central committee back Gomez up to the hilt: WP is discredited in the eyes of conservative voters, who will see them as the next SDP.

How WP responds will determine if it can keep the gains it made in the public mind last week.

Since the Public Prosecutor has chosen not to prosecute James Gomez, he has not been found guilty of criminal intimidation by the courts. It's up to the opposition to frame this as their victory, though. And that concludes the Whiteshirt endgame.

Opposition endgame

MPs Chiam See Tong (SDA-Potong Pasir) and Low Thia Khiang (WP-Hougang) have SM Goh Chok Tong (PAP-Marine Parade) in their crosshairs. Their strategy is simply

Where is the money, Mr Goh?

The mistake Goh made was to announce the exact figure of the upgrading funds set aside for Potong Pasir and Hougang - in the almost 12 years of using the upgrading carrot-and-stick (in Chua Mui Hoong's own words), the Whiteshirts have never specified any monetary value of their sweeteners.

Very well, you have set aside 180 million dollars. Or so you claim. In which account books is the money budgetted under? Who will pay the 180 million dollars? How much of it will actually come from the residents of Potong Pasir and Hougang? What happens to the money now? Where does it go to? And so on.

Bury the Whiteshirts under accountability of funds. But Mr Goh, while being weak, isn't a significant piece in the Whiteshirt machinery.

Focus on Khaw Boon Wan (non-NKF)

In a little-known CNA report, Minister Khaw announced that the Government has shortlisted several locations for retirement villages in Batam and Johore Bahru. That's right, and at least one will be built. The opposition needs to question Minister Khaw to reveal more details on this.

Khaw says that in the past, "the Singapore market was... too small for retirement villages to be commercially viable". That overseas retirement villages are now viable indicates that Singapore's cost of living has become unaffordable for the old, that Singapore becomes unlivable for retirees. It also means that the CPF system has failed: despite a high rate of enforced savings, retirees still cannot survive. It also means that the rate of poverty in the old will rise, and the Whiteshirts have no real solution. It also means abalone porridge was a hypocritical election ploy. The opposition needs to frame the retirement village as a failure of social security and a cost of living issue.

As Minister Khaw makes a big deal out of being a devout Buddhist who cannot lie, who will refuse to answer questions if he feels he'll make a lie, further frame the issue: Is the retirement village idea not an immoral thing - both in itself, and the implication that social security in Singapore has fallen apart?

The man who said "If you do wrong things, tell lies, defame people, create trouble, incite hatred...then I think you have wasted your life and I worry about your afterlife" and "In my religion, one of the biggest sins is to tell lies. The next life, you'll become a cockroach or something" needs to be reminded that ill-treating the old and failing to care for the old is even more immoral.

The opposition should get the message out before the first session of Parliament begins. The silver lining in SDP losing the Sembawang contest is this: it's more embarrassing and damaging for the Whiteshirts to be forced to reshuffle Mr Khaw out of his Ministry.

Citizen endgame

3rd May 06 - Lunchtime Election Rally

"Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week's problem and forget about next year's challenges?"

--- Minilee

Thanks to some creative editing by Chua Mui Hoong in the Straits Times, Minilee wasn't completely damaged by his fix them and buy votes speech. We need to keep this issue in play as much as Minilee and the Straits Times want to bury it.

100 letters to the Straits Times and Today forum pages will remind them of their journalistic failure to scrutinise Minilee's speech. They could include most of the following points:

1. We thank Minilee for clarifying his use of "fix" during the lunchtime election rally of 3 May.
2. However, we still require him to make further clarifications in the clearest language as possible.
3. Most importantly, we as Singaporean citizens look forward to hearing an explanation for what our PM meant when he talked about buying supporters votes.
4. Not only must Singapore have no climate of fear, Singapore must be seen to have no climate of fear. Use of sharp and violent language like fixing people, buying votes fosters impressions of a climate of fear.

(Of course, if the opposition were strong enough, I'd recommend Minilee as their joint endgame target, along with Khaw)

Blogger endgame

A relevant ministry will examine the effect of the internet on the election. Bloggers have two viable targets and two strategies that can be carried out simultaneously.

Moral and international right to comment freely on elections

From Comment 25 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights,
Voters should be able to form opinions independently, free of violence or threat of violence, compulsion, inducement or manipulative interference of any kind.

In order to ensure the full enjoyment of rights protected by article 25, the free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion. It requires the full enjoyment and respect for the rights guaranteed in articles 19, 21 and 22 of the Covenant, including freedom to engage in political activity individually or through political parties and other organizations, freedom to debate public affairs, to hold peaceful demonstrations and meetings, to criticize and oppose, to publish political material, to campaign for election and to advertise political ideas.

The blogosphere right now needs to frame the upcoming debate from one about the dangers of irresponsible blogging to one about the right to comment and take part in elections, to form opinions and discuss issues with each other freely.

Fix the media, don't fix bloggers

The reputation of SPH and Mediacorp has taken a beating from foreign press reports of their biases in reporting this election. Day after day, from nomination day to the day before polling, the main newspapers and television stations showed endless reports of Whiteshirt campaign, written and read in the highest and most congratulatory language, while giving opposition candidates next to zero airtime.

Where were the pictures of the Workers Party rallies?
Why did Chua Mui Hoong change Minilee's speech to "counter my opponents" instead of the actual "fix" and "buy" line?
Why were the teams from prize-winning, world-class Mediacorp unable to track down opposition politicians for their victory speeches, some of which are podcast anyway by bloggers?

1. The mainstream media is biased
2. The mainstream media is incompetent
3. The election coverage was so awful that bloggers provided NEWS that Singaporeans kept going online to get.

We bloggers aren't political, we aren't making crazy, unverifiable, outrageous statements about the election campaign. We offered our comments and analyses and from the looks of it, countless citizens wanted to hear what we wanted to say.

The message bloggers need to make loud and clear to the "relevant ministry" and the MDA is this": Fix your mainstream media. Don't fix us.

Bloggers should remember that for months, SPH and Mediacorp were hatchet men, painting bloggers as dangerous, irrelevant, or irresponsible. Spare them no quarters this time.

3 comments:

Calamity Man said...

http://the-commentator.blogspot.com/2006/05/skewed.html

check that one out.

eileen said...

1. On opposition Strategies : Your possible strategies pay a lot of attention on irritating the party in power based on their assertions. While I agree that showing they were not as responsible as believed is important in diminishing credibility, it is important for the opposition parties to also strongly put forth alternative solutions. For instance, do we need the upgrading, if not upgrading, then what?

2: On media biasness: Doesn't it depend a whole lot on the perception of mainstream media in the eyes of the residents? If the perception is that they are reliable, they don't need to do anything to change that impression. If they are known to be biased, then, they also have no reason to do anything to change because even with this biasness they are still highly profitable.

gecko said...

MDA is in no position to fix the media. The board of directors for SPH answers directly to the few at the echelon of the pyramid.