Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"莫须有" Mo Xu You

Someone in the comments asked me about my views on Gomez-Gate by both parties. I will talk more than that. I will point out where was the PAP's crucial mistake for GE 2006.

It boils down to this. Simply. The silencing of CSJ. This single factor caused all the problems besieging the PAP now.

In the past few GEs, CSJ through his Taiwanese style of confrontational politics, have dogged the media headlines. Through the campaigning periods, it was one CSJ publicity event after another. And the media? Well, they seized on these antics. They went wild with reports of shouting matches, alleged defamatory remarks. And you cannot blame the media then for not focussing on the Opposition. Because CSJ was catapulted to represent the Opposition. Media coverage was "fair" in this sense. In the people's eyes, mediated through the lenses and words of the mass media, CSJ was indeed not the type of politician they wanted. And the PAP looked so good, so saintly, while CSJ became a mad raving dog.
The PAP fears CSJ-type politics. They fear the hoopla he creates. They fear very much a CSJ in Parliament. And this fear overrode their appreciation of the larger strategic picture of politics in Singapore. So they silenced CSJ way before GE 2006. They silenced him so successfully with defamation and bankruptcy suits that he cannot contest in this GE.
And what a strategic mistake this was. A mistake at two levels.
First for the PAP. In GE 2006, there is no one left to demonise now that CSJ is gone. No one to spin into the archetype Opposition which scares Singaporeans. They need that maverick character to focus on, to translate that figure into a Representation of the Opposition. But there is no CSJ. And so Gomez-gate was born. The PAP are filling the vauum left by CSJ's silence to catapult another demon into the limelight.
They have chosen James Gomez.
But the action of Gomez over the form incident is hardly equivalent to CSJ's deliberate media provocations. But the PAP enacts the same strategy of demonisation as they have done so effectively in the past. They use the same semantic structures, the same prevailing themes to dehumanise Gomez and transform him into the Demon. This archetype is then transfigured to represent the entire Opposition.
The other problem is this. Gomez's form incident occurred on Nomination Day, so early into the hustings, so it cannot be sustained throughout the rally period. This problem of sustaining the issue is compounded by WP's responses over the issue. First silence, than apology, than moving on. They have refused to personalise this Gomez-Gate. They act as the bewildered. Huh? Everybody forgets.
And it is working for the WP.

Because it is increasingly apparent that the PAP appears to be dancing with themselves over this issue.
Because the incident is hardly something that is as spectacular as compared to what CSJ did in the past throughout the campaigning period.

And that is why many people are surprised at the vehemence arrayed by one Minister after another against Gomez, day after day after day after day.

The silencing of CSJ and this playing up of Gomez-Gate is a further mistake at another level. The silencing of CSJ creates a media vacuum. Yes they have released CCTV footage, yes they have released audio transcripts but these can hardly be shown day after day after day after day. So the media has nothing in the Opposition to zoom in to. Except the truth. But the editors cannot allow unmediated truth to move freely during such a period of intense scrutiny.
So they persist together with the obligatory demonisation themes of Gomez spewing from the PAP. But this was something that happened on Nomination Day; it is hardly breaking news especially for the duration of the campaigning period. Once Gomez-Gate is duly reported, what next? Lauding the PAP. And when thats done, what next? Er.
Truth rejected by the editors controlling mainstream media is gladly accepted by the Internet, by the blogosphere. Responsibly, I may add. In utter defiance of the MDA edict, the rejected truth is mediated into Singaporean homes. Into your eyes. Into the eyes of the world.

And so, for the first time in a long while, the propagandistic function of the media is revealed so much more starkly.
Hence, for the first time in a long while, there are more people than usual suddenly sceptical of the media.
And the people disillusionment and backlash grows.

Gomez-Gate? At the WP rally in East Coast, when Gomez was introduced, hear the roar of support. And to the WP media strategy's credit, it has refused to escalate Gomez-Gate to the personal level; they have refused to turn this into a personal war despite the baiting by the PAP. And this strategy is working. More importantly, the WP has dictated and shifted the discourse at their rallies. Despite the media blackout.

The irony is this. As day after day, the Ministers continue their tirade against Gomez, the Ministers are resembling the media's portrayal of CSJ in previous GEs.

They seem to be the mad dogs this time round.
And how apt.
As this strategic failure is ironically premised on their supposed success in silencing CSJ.
Heaven has Eyes.

Quote of the Day --

"莫须有" (ph : Mo Xu You) -- Southern Song Court Official, Qin Hui, when asked why General Yue Fei was executed.

23 Comments:

Blogger Dorothy said...

Haha. HEAVEN HAS EYES. I laughed out loud when LTK said it at the rally :)

And yes, the PAP tactics may very well have backfired this time around.

Yeaps, Heaven has eyes :)

2:29 AM  
Blogger fen said...

I like this post particularly because I have the same sentiments as you. (:

3:00 AM  
Blogger quzy said...

BRAVO! *standing ovation*

Your blog has always been very insightful, but this post is highly pertinent.

Thanks so much. Don't even stop.

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi.... i'm juz wondering...

1. should the Elections Department (despite being part of the PMO) be impartial in the first place, since the PAP wasn't returned to power on nomination day, hence LHL is not the PM at this very moment?

2. in this case, what right do the Elections Department have in releasing the CCTV footage to the media/PAP, since this is not a criminal matter and not tried in the courts of law?

I sincerely hope that this matter is highlighted for all to see. thank you.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the deep analysis. With your political skills, you should consider standing or becoming an advisor...

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the PAP, Gomez would have claimed that the Elections Department deliberately lost his form and he would have accused the ED of colluding with the PAP to deprive him of his Indian Minority Certificate....which....Gomez did not require to contest in Aljunied GRC (Aljunied GRC requires a Malay candidate). Doesn't make sense, right?

The WP has declared that Gomez was never considered for contesting Ang Mo Kio GRC which requires an Indian candidate. This explanation makes PERFECT SENSE: it would be highly unlikely for Gomez to enter parliament by defeating the PM in AMK GRC. Furthermore, the WP team fielded in AMK GRC is obviously the weakest WP team with the least chance of winning. So I believe that all along, Gomez planned to contest Aljunied GRC (Gomez has been courting Aljunied since 2001) where he, along with the strongest WP team, would stand the best chance of winning.

This begs the question: Why did Gomez bother to apply for an Indian Minority Cert? I think Gomez really wanted to keep PAP guessing whether he was going to lead the WP in AMK GRC. It was a 'wayang' for the media and the PAP so as to hamper PAP’s preparation for the election. There is nothing wrong with a bit of deception to keep your enemy guessing what your strategy is.

The real question is: Do you believe that Gomez wanted to submit his Minority Form and he forgot about his non-submission due to too much distraction? If this explanation sounds reasonable and possible, you must also accept that when Gomez showed up to collect his form, he was genuinely upset about the form being misplaced (hence his irritated reaction) but he was NOT trying to frame anyone.

Do you believe that Gomez is trying to FRAME the PAP and Elections Department for losing his form? Can you recall who started the media controversy and the name calling?

What does Gomez have to gain out of framing the Election Department? PAP says Gomez would have made the integrity of the ED and PAP an election issue; where is the proof? The WP does not have the track record of SDP when it comes to questioning PAP integrity. Even if we assume Gomez was going to frame the ED and the PAP, who has the immense resources to convince the public otherwise? Who is the public likely to believe?

Did Gomez really expect to get away with framing the ED? Gomez was in a closely monitored environment with multiple CCTV cameras which PAP claims Gomez was not aware of. Even from the CNA video footage of the Gomez incident (go to the CNA website), I can clearly see the CCTV cameras and they are not concealed. Moreover, every opposition politician knows that the ISD monitors your every move, especially during elections! It would have been a suicide mission for Gomez to attempt framing the ED.

There are a lot of speculative "Gomez-would-have-accused-PAP/Elections Department-of-collusion" accusations being made by the PAP. The PAP has an excuse to attack Gomez because of the lack of independence of the Elections Department. The WP Manifesto is right: the Elections Department should be a neutral and independent office and not under the direct control of the PAP. Why must every public service in Singapore, from the LTA (fixing flooded roads) to the Election Departments be linked to the PAP?

All this self-righteous sound and fury is very distasteful and not becoming of a first world government.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous kiasi said...

Do u think it's possible that the media is deliberately playing along but secretly trying to make the pap look bad?

9:28 AM  
Blogger girlwithballs said...

i cannot agree enough :)

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Sam said...

This is a brilliant analysis! The sense of irony is delicious. Let's now hope that JG and Co. win so we can remember this from the perspective of an historic gain for the WP and democracy in Singapore....

10:19 AM  
Anonymous pete said...

im questioning
what sort of political/financial backlash will there be...IFan improved number of well qualified opposition candidates are really voted in...

how will the incumbent react?
more defamations?
character assasinations?
those of us made aware..especially these days through online discussions and great analysis from all fronts recognized how disgraceful the election events has been

elections aside...
we've been constantly badgered
stabbed in the back in front of our faces with blank stares for years on...when things go bad..turned sour..its the citizens that bear the consequences
and its not tt we are really having things tt bad,
but taking jabs at personnel who are helping to express our discontent..through the incumbent controlled media/judicial system...definately never a level playing field..

countless failed policies, investements and weak explanations or media blackouts aplenty shoved down upon us...sighs so malu....

and they go about attacking the poor guy every single day..even if he really turns out to be an arse..as we know politics and power really go "hand in hand...fist in our face, well at least for most of us jus a slap on the wrist"...simply just be honest lah..you got nothing better to say but mouth of opinions of your superiors..shd just shut the f up....

if like that we all vote u for wat...
*GAM LAN* ah??

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant analysis! Yes, definitely, "tien you yen". I believe in karma and what goes around comes around.

If you ever contemplate running for public office I'll definitely vote for you. If I can't vote I'll get my family and friends to vote for you.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but....LTK has publicly declared and clarified that Gomez was never intended by the party to contest AMK GRC where an Indian minority certificate is required. Gomez was intended to run in Aljunied GRC, and a minority certificate for him is not required because they need a Malay there, and they have a representation in Mohd Yaacob.

WP never considered Gomez for AMK, and to quote LTK, the question doesn't arise.

if that was so, why did Gomez even bother take the time and effort to (1) pick up a minority certificate application (2) fill it up (3) confronted the Elections Department and held them accountable for the 'mising' form (4) had Sylvia Lim's endorsement that the form was filled, submitted and accepted by the Elections Department?

could it be that in the excitement, two of WP's highest office holders made an honest mistake?

could we perhaps consider that if this is a strategy to deceive, by a political analyst / strategist, then perhaps we the voters, in our quest for an alternative voice, be over-looking this seemingly small issue of deception?

what if it was not a mistake?

what if it was deliberate?

if it was indeed deliberate, if they could plan such a wayang today, would they not be capable of bigger wayangs when they are in parliament?

not that the current ruling party is any better, but might it not be a case of voting for the devil we know, then the devil we don't?

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, to the poster above me. Speaking of Wayang, I'm sorry but the PAP wins big time.

The WHOLE Damn Media is a wayang tool, and it has successfully blinded many to think that the whole thing is wayang.

First let us ask ourselves, why is there a need to wayang when they are already running out of time (9 days to voting) and they have lack of manpower, and Gomez has already cocked up the form before. Why do they need to wayang to screw the party?

Minority form is a need, for Aljunied GRC isnt it? Confronting the ELD was understandable, because the department is under the PAP and things like that become very sensitive and Gomez must have thought that they were trying to play tricks. Is it not?

In the camera, Sylvia would never have thought that he did not hand up, because when he left the counter there was no form in his hand! And she came in after he had put it in his bag.

If WP tries to use a form to wayang and screw up the government, I find it totally illogical and unnecessary.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WTF!!! Excellent posting!

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DITTO DITTO DITTO

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IF ST journalists have one tenth of your writing and analytical skill, the paper will probably climb 40 steps in the RSF rankings.

1:50 AM  
Blogger cheeky said...

nabeh. so cheem, but i like.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

again *sigh*, u missed the point

minority certificate is a need, yes BUT NOT BY GOMEZ. period.

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although James Gomez had intended to contest for Aljunied where he does not need a minoirty certificate, it is still logical to apply for one. If there is a last minute change in AMK such that Gopal Krishnan is unable to contest, WP can still reshuffle the candidates by deploying JG there. Though it is unlikely that WP would sacrifice JG in AMK, it is still better to have an minority cert, just in case. Therefore, by contesting in Aljunied does not mean that JG cannot apply for a MC.

7:53 AM  
Blogger singaporebands said...

Interesting analysis of the 'high-handed' politics played here. Better analysis of GE politics than anything in the papers right now.

I think we still have some questions left open-ended if we come to 2 situations:

1)every statement given by the election dept and WP is true as it is. Gomez- 'distracted' 'left without filling form'

- did Gomez forgot he was 'wayanging' for the media and went back while distracted with other thoughts of the GE? Right now we don't know what the 'wayang' actually is- wayang to lead PAP to think he would be in AMK or wayang to discredit Election Dept?

2)Gomez was lying

- a very strong charge on the character of Gomez himself: meaning he could have set out to discredit the ED. So is Gomez that sort of person?

third scenario: The ED was lying
but unsubstationated cause even WP agrees tacitly on their accounts.

Basing our beliefs on either one of these scenarios- I am still somewhat left with not that a great assessment of Gomez: even though I believe scenario one. Political craftiness is usual but if he's forgetful- that's some character defect. But it doesn't affect what I think of WP. I think their manifesto is really worth an hour's lunch break analysis. PAP's?- 5min coffee break.

Anyway, seems like the WP's english site is down. The rest of the site is ok- haha fodder for conspiracy theories out there?

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Luddite said...

Very poetic and poignant. It would be great if what u say about the reactions of Singaporeans to the Gomez issue is true. But what I do wonder Xenoboy, how is it that u can be so certain that the the average Singaporean has been as un-impressed with this whole incident as we are; that they are all as bemused and sympathetic towards Gomez as we are. I mean I can safely say that your post speaks for 90 percent of the blogosphere, but we are only a small segment of the voting population. (for those of us that are voting)You say 'many people are surprised at the vehemence arrayed by one Minister after another against Gomez', 'people disillusionment and backlash grows', and that 'They seem to be the mad dogs this time round.' To us - YES. But what makes u so sure that voters in general share this view and have not been brainwashed by the media? Being overseas like me and having our political discussions confined mainly to the blogosphere, how can u claim to be certain about the present sentiments of the average heartlander?

2:56 PM  
Blogger xenoboysg said...

hi luddite,

I can never be sure. What I have is sensing, mere sensing. When you say "we" are overseas, I think you are mistaken. at this moment, I am in Sg, I am one of the dots in the picture above. I am one of the dots in the AMK picture as well.

Your query is a bit strange. How can I be sure? How can I claim?

I am sure of nothing. I claim nothing.

If you want statistics, facts, a longtitudinal psychological study of an "average heartlander" and how he or she feels, this is the wrong place.

I don't see an "average heartlander", I don't see blogosphere as intrinsically separate from real-life.

I sit here and I listen. I speak to people and I listen. I read the papers and I listen. I read the Net populated by real people and I listen.

I look at the PAP election strategy and I dissect.

Today's CNA, news headlines : PM "refocusses" Ge on future of singapore. Refocusses.

I am nobody. An anonymous blogger. I share my senses. And that is all.

For all the rest, thank you, w/o everyone's writing, sharing, courage : hope will truly be lost. But its not, I believe. This time round, win or lose, we see a bigger picture and we will build on this.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Luddite said...

Well if you've really spoken to a lot of everyday people on the streets about this then I'd say you got a better gauge on the sentiments of the people. But certainly not, and I'm sure u'll agree, from watching CNA or reading the ST. Also, yes people who read and comment on blogs are real people. And I'm heartened that the blogosphere is really beginning to expand in its scope of viewership. But I still don't think that what we see in blogs and internet chatrooms is a holistically representative sample of the entire voting populace. Those who venture to the internet and search for alternative views tend to be more likely to be already opposed or slightly skeptical of the status quo.

Anyway, I do hope you're right and that the backlash shows in the elections results. It'll be really big if 'we' can win Aljunied.

5:32 AM  

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