With Hecklegate more or less simmering down but renewed discussions on the next GE, it’s time to dust off the teacup and reach for the tea leaves. Part 2 of our 3rd reading of the next GE discusses Strategies.
Instead of analyzing various strategic options for PAP or the Opposition, after some thought and at the risk of over-simplification, I have distilled it to just the defining, overarching strategy for each side. You decide if it makes sense.
Strategy defined in the GE context
There are many ways to define ‘strategy’.
The most common is Chandler’s (1962): “Strategy is the determination of the basic long-term goals”. Another, Mintzberg’s (1979): ”consistent patterns of streams of organizational decisions to deal with the environment.” Yet another, Learned et al (1965): “the pattern of objectives, purposes or goals and major policies and plans for achieving these goals.”
For our purpose, we use Porter’s (1985), “The search for a favorable competitive position”, i.e. the focus is on a specific way to win the GE. But given the Singapore’s reality, ‘win’ may be defined differently by the 2 sides, PAP and the Oppostiion.
…has to be informed by PAP’s GE goal. PM Lee says clearly, “Whether we can…maintain that position of…dominance in that system over a long term, that depends on Singaporeans and also on how well we acquit ourselves and establish ourselves in our own right”. (Chatham House Dialogue, 28 Mar 14)
Hence, PAP’s goal of “winning” is “dominance,” no less. Going by the PAP parliamentary presence since 1959, dominance in their Sec-Gen’s mind means a 2/3 majority, no less.
Here’s the strategy that I think will best make it for PAP. No ‘internal split’ within the PAP. All it takes is to re-package itself into 2 wings but contest as a single party.
The ‘same’ current half-century governing PAP with its laser-focused GDP-growth-at-all-cost track record is one wing.
A ‘new’ second, sizeable wing (perhaps, 30% of its GE candidates), overtly marketed to voters as PAP’s response to the demands of SG’s new political reality. This latter group needs to be led by a current heavyweight minister who has shown himself or is perceived to be more in-tune with and to expressly represent the middle electorate’s cries over overcrowding, housing, transport, healthcare etc issues.
In effect, while the first wing plays up the familiar to its own receptive audience, the second wing basically hijacks ALL the known discontent that would have to be otherwise taken up in parliament by an Opposition.
In critical essence, such a strategy would help the PAP win over the dithering middle ground of fence-sitters, marginal supporters and mal-informed-but-stirring voters – where the real battle is being fought.
Ridiculous, unthinkable? Well, think again on two counts.
The Singapore voter, ever the kia-su, kia-si one, after 50 unbroken years of brainwashing led by PAP’s key hatchet-wielding headman, their formidable party machinery and the MSM, can but be easily swayed. PAP can also count on the voter being daft – to fall for their repackaging trickery.
PAP has shown they will do anything not overtly illegal to stay in power. Who can forget the pre-GE 2011 outright lie, ‘we are sorry, we’ll do better’, aimed to sway voters, once achieved albeit with the lowest 60.1% win, they sweep aside their ‘sorry, do better’ bull by pushing thro’ the Population White Paper 15 months later – despite strong ground reservations and objections?
A second ‘sorry’ can work no more. But ‘repackaging’ just might. PAP can spin their 2-wing formation as being responsive to changing times, their reinvention. So, think again!
The Opposition’s Counter Strategy
With such an apparently compelling strategic initiative, how can the Opposition respond? Any concerted attempt will be hobbled by their weakest link, a lack of unity; Indian chiefs all, reluctant to subsume their personal glories in the national interest.
Regardless, what then is considered a ‘win’ for the Opposition? With PAP’s continued parliamentary dominance looming, the better bet is to promote a “win” for ALL Singaporeans. The counter-strategy will then be to strike PAP where it matters to unsure voters who may grudgingly acquiesce to the PAP – but in a changed configuration. i.e. force a doctrinal rethink, not just a repackaging.
How then to execute the counter-strategy?
Well, with resources lacking for any fancy, elaborate electioneering footwork, the Opposition need to send their best team to contest at PM Lee’s GRC. Why?
Simply put, they must cobble together the best team to give Lee Hsien Loong the proverbial ‘bloody nose’, if not to actually win Teck Ghee GRC. Toppling or shaking his Sec-Generalship will force the PAP to re-organize itself out of the long shadow of a Sec-Gen who has the unenviable luggage of his bloodline heritage to protect or, at least, not to suffer disesteem.
What suicide squad cannot do, a strongest possible Opposition team can deal Sec-Gen Lee a humiliating paper-thin majority, if not actually vote him out. The Opposition will then be handing PAP members a just cause to question how a marginal GE winner can continue as Sec-Gen when, for e.g., Tharman has a clear, stronger majority.
Either way, PAP can no longer be the same insular, arrogant, hubristic piece of (pardon my French!) shit that it has become, along with their insane GDP-growth-at-all-cost-centred policies. Once that is underway, the civil service, the meritoguanxi-commercial leeching scaffoldings, the PA, CCs, CCCs & RCs apparatus will then stand a better chance of repenting and reforming as rightly nation-serving instead of tax-payer-funded but PAP-servient organs.
Are we doomed for another electoral term with a dominant but repackaged 2-wing PAP? Is that it?