“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” Philip K. Dick 1928-1982
A corollary of Dick’s observation would surely be ‘manipulate the narrative and you control the people who must naturally discuss issues within that narrative. ‘ Oh yes, it sure helps when ‘neutral 3rd parties’ are roped in to help.
(Philip Dick, by the way, was an author whose works birthed films such as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report etc. As a writer whose living revolved around words, he should know a thing or two about words, and narratives.
So, what has that got to do even remotely with the PAP? Plenty.
Controlling the Narrative
As the next General Election (GE) beckons, we see more discussions mushrooming in mainstream media (MSM). Well, so what?
Well, a GE is a fight to win hearts and minds – voter by voter. Using one’s weapons effectively to engage voters makes for victory. Unlike possessions and land conquest, hearts and minds are won subtly. Without the victim knowing it – that she was manipulated.
Hence, the gathering MSM political discussions. We examine how an Invisible Hand is controlling the narrative within which issues are discussed, are framed.
Hopefully, we the common people will neither effortlessly nor unknowingly fall into the trap set for us. Otherwise, the PAP would have won half the election battle.
Where it began, I can’t begin to know it, but then I know it’s growing strong…
Before the narrative part, there was the ‘manipulation of words’.
Think ‘PWM’. Ring no bell?
That’s ‘Progressive Wage Model’ (Jan 2014) instead of ‘minimum wage’. Read the official propaganda here < http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/progressive-wage-model/Pages/progressive-wage-model.aspx>.
Next, ‘bus contracting model’ instead of ‘nationalization’ (May 2014). Read the propaganda here (http://www.mot.gov.sg/Transport-Matters/Public-Transport/Why-bus-contracting-/>
Does Mr Dick now make sense? Using the internationally-accepted words means ceding the initiative to, in this case, the Opposition who have been clamouring for it. It’s not about eating humble pie. Surrendering the control of the wage and bus transport agenda can be fatal to PAP’s fight for the blue-collar votes.
The latest spin on where we are heading, the more you read, the less you think…
The invisible hand started first with some mild attempts to work the narrative. Enough time till the next GE allows for easing in the narrative. Start first with non-political civic leaders…silently, stealthily but surely now…
Remember Prof Tommy Koh’s proposing his ‘ideological cleavage’? (ST 29 Mar 2014) Then, Prof Chan Heng Chee’s ‘time for love in politics’? (ST 17 May 2014). His is about a consensus breaking down, hers, the need to transit from ‘transactional’ to ‘empathy’ politics. Both firmly on the ‘trust the government governing’ bandwagon.
The 2 good professors’ views appeared to frame the political issues of our day not as failures of the PAP government but as philosophical discussions in all their intellectual glory. His, not going far enough, whilst hers, rather airy-fairy.
By and by, came George Yeo and Ho Kwon Ping with their speeches in quick succession, supposedly taking direct aim at the PAP.
While netizens latched on Yeo’s child emperor analogy to lampoon the ‘child’ now reigning over Singapore, MSM avoided that delectable illustration to instead headline ‘Singapore well-placed to adjust to new reality’, a remark made during Q&A. And an indirect compliment to PAP’s leadership. Yeo’s key point, ‘The most profound impact is in the way hierarchies are being corroded by information technology disintermediating what kept this hierarchy intact in the first place’ is ignored.
Yeo’s speech has street-cred in that it correctly pinpointed much of what is rumbling at the ground level, As for Ho’s, you’d think he’s PAP futurist-planner. His Politics & Governance lecture was about ‘the PAP’s dominance of not only the political process, but almost the entire national culture, was in large part the reason for Singapore’s rise from Third to First World in a single generation…(and) Can that dominance be maintained?’ (http://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/ips/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/07/IPS-Nathan-Lectures_Lecture-I-Politics-and-Governance-speech_201014_v3.pdf)
And the MSM faithfully stuck to their assigned propaganda role, reporting on Ho’s 5 anything-but-thought-provoking quotes which included PAP’s future and how PAP might lost an election (http://www.singapolitics.sg/news/five-thought-provoking-quotes-ho-kwon-pings-first-ips-nathan-lecture). TODAY, likewise, focused on PAP’s possible loss of dominance (http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pap-could-lose-current-dominance-15-years-ho-kwon-ping).
But where, O where, is the discussion on what are the failures on PAP’s part that is giving rise to the possibility of power relegation? Zilch! Kosong! Pūjyam! 鸭蛋!
Even though we know Ho has all the money (well, at least more than Roy Ngerg) many times over to tell the truth and suffer the vengeful response of the PAP, he wouldn’t would he? A pale shadow of the once young rebel, he’s since sold over to the devil’s cause, presiding over his Banyan Tree empire and dressed impeccably in blue suits with a choice seat at the elites’ table. The PAP calls it co-opting. Well done!
So, with discussions of PAP’s possible demise now openly introduced, ST editor-at-large, Han Fook Kwang, finally found his balls (oops, pardon my Français slip), I mean the sound of his voice to speak the once-unspeakable subject. But he stuck closely to the Invisible Hand’s narrative, hardly discussing one word of PAP’s failures that should be the starting point behind its possible demise to instead speculate situations ‘where the ruling party might continue to reign supreme’.
So, folks, don’t be foolish and fooled! PAP is tying the fate of Singapore to the fate of the PAP. But we know the two are not the same.
PAP do not want you to discuss their failures.
They know they have lost the control and are too late to influence the narrative in social media. So, they seize the next strategic alternative where they wield the greatest control and, indeed, where the real battle is fought. I again refer readers to the FMMs (fence-sitters, marginal supporters and mal/mis-informed voters), the same ones Opposition parties need to win the next GE.
Please satisfy for yourself with the details of what I have offered.
Henceforth, we must recognise that PAP’s fate is PAP’s own problem, not Singapore’s. Let PAP deal with it themselves. No discussions needed. Period.
Singapore shall remain standing. It is more productive to discuss the new goals, checks and balances that we need for new leaders to operate for the good of citizens, not any one party political.
Since we cannot control the narrative, shall we discuss how we can disrupt it to ensure PAP fall earlier, quicker and harder the next discussion?