Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, “The Tipping Point”, discusses ‘how little things can make a big difference’. He postulates that ‘the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves…the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers…the rise of teenage smoking…the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviours spread just like viruses do.’
Gladwell’s ‘in-depth research spanning a number of different fields, industries, and scholarly disciplines…identifies three key factors that each play in role in determining whether a particular trend will tip into wide-scale popularity.’ The ‘tipping point’ then refers to ‘the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change.’
Whence the Tipping Point of GE 2015?
Is Singapore on the verge of THE Tipping Point that will spur the needed change in the way she has to be governed going forward, ditching ‘growth at all costs’ via cheap labour and additional dubious foreign talents and rent-seeking, extractive fiscal and monetary means masquerading as free market forces in play?
Could the show of Opposition solidarity in avoiding multi-corner fights in the next GE be the harbinger of that Tipping Point? Let’s take a look.
To reach a tipping point, a potential trend needs 3 factors in play; the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. explaining
The Law of the Few ‘contends that before widespread popularity can be attained, a few key types of people must champion an idea, concept, or product before it can reach the tipping point.’ Simply put, to start a trend we need some people to actually spread the word of the need to vote differently, vote wisely – make an informed choice. In the current SG context, getting information out to the voters is absolutely crucial. How can they hear, read, know, understand unless someone tells them?
The Stickiness Factor refers to ‘a unique quality that compels the phenomenon to stick in the minds of the public and influence their future behaviour…(and) often represents a dramatic divergence from the conventional wisdom of the era’. The conventional wisdom appears to be “VTO” (Vote Them/PAP Out) to effect change. The VTO cry recognizes that the only legal way to effect the change is via the ballot box. But we need the votes of the FMMs (fence-sitters, the marginal supporters & the mal/mis-informed citizens). FMMs have their own concerns for their own future based on their own values and individual situations. Many of them have been exposed, maybe even conditioned, to the dominant PAP’s narratives of a Singapore that is forever under siege, our fortunes tied entirely to PAP’s survival as a party. VTO will not stick with them. But a more nuanced message that PAP cannot have their own way without parliamentary and popular consultation, cannot ride roughshod over FMMs’ legit concerns may better achieve a first if tenuous foothold on their minds.
Finally, the Power of Context refers to the ‘environmental and historical moment’ being conducive to the start of a trend without which no trend can take off. On this, Singaporeans’ current living environs (the very real stresses from population influx, retirement inadequacy and insufferable cost-of-living) are highly supportive of change. The historical moment is less obvious. Where some see the oppressive costs to personal livelihoods, others are still blessed in their ignorance servicing their below-water mortgage, hire purchase, daily expenses and annual vacation – only so long as mommy & daddy are not replaced by foreign talents.
Here’s the Idea – and Your Part in the Game
Putting all Gladwell’s analysis together, what do we get?
The Opposition’s show of solidarity, though unprecedented, does not appear to meet much of the 3 factors to create that GE2015 Tipping Point. Maybe, these will:-
The Law of the Few suggests that just being a keyboard or armchair warrior at tremeritus.com or TOC will not help in tipping over the votes. People, we must allocate more of your internet time (reading, commenting, venting our anger) to actively email selected, rationally-argued articles to family members, friends, colleagues and LinkedIn/FB contacts. Do nothing (name-calling, condemnation, sarcasm etc) to turn them off from reading for themselves such articles. If we can’t even get thro’ this, our cause is lost – already.
We also cannot run away from the fact that money is needed to advance our cause. Each Opposition candidate needs about S$25,000/- to stand in the GE ($16k deposit + print, distribution, rally expenses etc). Therefore, please be generous with whatever you can give – sacrifice that sugarcane juice or bottle of beer.
What would constitute a sticky message to reach out to the FMMs? I suggest ‘End PAP’s Dominance’.
True, the slogan is negative in nature without a positive alternative. Perhaps, that’s what is needed to move the FMMs to vote Opposition. It is a stretch to think that PAP will be mortally defeated next GE. Electoral victory is a game of hard numbers. With the GE2011 60/40 vote ratio momentum and incumbent’s control of mass media, the PAP machinery will likely win, even if that momentum is decelerating. Remember, it’s the FMMs whose hearts & minds we need to convert. So, with a less threatening ‘End PAP’s Dominance’, should anyone ask, ‘what’s your alternative?’, we create the opportunity to explain that at this stage, SG needs a) a critical mass of non-PAP MPs to keep the PAP in check and b) demand greater access to info and data without which no alternatives can be intelligently conceived for the FMMs’ consideration.
Finally, on the Power of Context, at the risk of oversimplifying Gladwell, I’ll just latch onto the Magic Number of 150. Basically, his research suggests that 150 is ‘the group size conducive to achieving the tipping point’. How to apply that? Well, those Opposition CEC members and their candidates who helped create the current solidarity add up to about 150. But they appear not to be creating the counter-momentum needed to win more constituencies. And time is short!
Here’s where we come in. PAP already wins by default when we hide behind monikers to speak our minds. We submit ourselves willingly to the unspoken climate of fear of retaliation or retribution by the PAP against us voters. Sadly, many TRE commentators with highly-reasonable and brilliantly-reasoned perspectives are succumbing to that perceived fear. ‘Like that, how to win?’ TIME & TIDE WAIT FOR NO MAN in the change we want, to End PAP’s Dominance. Put your name where your heart is NOW!
By using our real names, we send the clear, unequivocal message to all Singaporeans – and the world – that we refuse now to bow and scrape to the fake aristocracy that has shamelessly used organs of government and taxpayers’ money to instil fear and for their own party’s advantage. Thus far and no further will you do what, how, where, when you like without accountability. I salute the likes of Philip Ang, Chris Kuan, Chua Chin Leng, Ng Kok Lim, Lye Khuen Way etc at TRE who have brazed the trail in this regard.
Whence the 150 good men and women to step forward with your name behind your cause? Or you will tell your children and others how you help change the tide of SG history under your moniker ‘abc’ or ‘xyz’?
Let’s Tip It!
So, people of Singapore, here’s how we may tip GE 2015 for us and our children:
– The slogan : END PAP’S DOMINANCE!
– The substantive : Play your part; share, spread the information & contribute a little of your money to Opposition candidates and parties fighting at the frontline.
– The symbolic : Cast off your moniker, use your real name!
Law Kim Hwee