The naivete of those desperate to see change where little exists
So I happened to chance upon a link posted by TOC FB, to Ravi’s blog (who is TOC’s chief editor). Ravi posted a screenshot asking if a certain controversial MP had come around and learned to take criticisms in her stride. Ravi cited a Facebook post, ostensibly linked by TPL in linking to a Youtube clip which mocks her now infamous behaviour of stamping her feet:
The problem with this, which was pointed out by a commenter on Ravi’s blog is that this isn’t true. Tin Pei Ling’s official Facebook did not link to the video. The link was instead posted by another anonymous Facebook page (sporting the same name) which has only 342 fans (the official TPL page has well over 9k fans) which was set up to mock her and the PAP.
Hence Ravi’s reasoning that this might mark a shift in her attitudes towards her detractors is completely off. In other words, TPL has not changed, and certainly not for the better.
Now, why is it worth pointing something like this out? You see, it’s because amongst people, be they netizens or ordinary Singaporeans there is a group of individuals who tend to see reform where little or none exists. These people would have you believe that the PAP actually meant to change for the better, citing the PAP’s last minute apology just days before polling, Tony Tan’s engagement with new media as evidence that change is in the air.
Let me just state categorically that while I believe that some things have indeed changed for the better (such as MND minister Khaw’s amazing performance as compared to his predecessor, or LKY and GCT’s resignation from Cabinet and PAP CEC), by and large the PAP has retained the same traits it had before the GE and PE.
This group of positive folks tends to over-interpret some actions by the PAP government to claim that the PAP is really changing. Let’s review a few of such instances below which occurred over the year.
When Tin Pei Ling resigned on 1st June from E&Y citing a desire to spend more time with her constituents, there was much talk that critics and detractors should give her credit for wanting to dedicate more of her time with her constituents. Singapore MPs are in general part-time MPs and Parliament rarely convenes. However, these people conveniently missed a report in the ST published the following day with the glaring headline Tin Pei Ling quits job but won’t be full-time MP:
If one reads the article above and other media coverage of TPL’s resignation, it becomes evident that her stated reason for leaving (to focus on helping her constituents) is mere PR spin which many fell for. Firstly unlike Sylvia Lim, who also resigned from polytechnic lectureship, TPL did not say she would be looking for a less taxing job which would give her more time to spend with her constituents. Secondly in another report from TNP on the same day, TPL did not state any community projects which she planned to be involved in, saying only that she might be involved in them:
Ms Tin also said she does not intend to be a full-time MP.
“But I’m not looking for a job as well,” she said. “Over at least the next few months, I want to focus on my responsibilities in MacPherson. I may take on community projects.”
[Source: TNP, 2th June, Tin Pei Ling quits job to focus on MP duties]
Does that sound like an MP who has decided to spend more time with her constituents by resigning her job? I think not. The real reason probably lies with the fact that as a business consultant, her public image was completely ruined by her public antics (stomping feet, cooling off breaches etc.) Consultancy firms rely heavily on public perception and appearing professional. TPL’s antics have seriously embarassed the company, an observation not lost to SBF’s scroobal here.
Tony Tan’s new media “outreach”
When Tony Tan invited TOC to attend his press conference announcing a run for President, some actually believed this heralded the start of an era of good relations with the new media. As pointed out previously as part of a longer article, the fact that Tony Tan basically halted all his prior outreach to TOC and other bloggers post-PE proves that he wasn’t serious and only did so in order to mollify bloggers from negatively covering his campaign. TT’s “outreach” succeeded in getting bloggers (excluding TR) to tone down negative coverage of him, causing TOC to miss covering (intentionally or not) major factual stories on TT’s leading role in boosting foreign student numbers in universities over a decade ago. Similarly an article which debunked the myth that TT stood up to the Cabinet to abolish the grad mothers scheme went unreported on TOC.
PM Lee’s National Day Rally Speech
Lastly, as written previously here, various journalists be they from the government-controlled companies of SPH or Mediacorp, or the independent Yahoo news naively reported that announced policy changes marked “a new phase in engagement”. Anyone which had followed the news from the beginning of this year would know (as pointed out in the earlier link) that there was nothing new in the National Day Rally Speech. PM Lee was just announcing policies which was already reported on or strongly hinted at:
To conclude, what exactly is new in the PM’s national day rally speech which hasn’t already been announced earlier? I can find nothing new in it. All PM Lee did was to deliver a speech which highlighted all the policy changes which the government had either already announced or had strongly hinted they would change months before. There doesn’t appear to be anything new. So why the hype over the supposed Singaporeans-first flavour for most of the policy changes?
So dear relentlessly-positive folks, how many more mundane or mistaken instances of reform will you continue to hype up when little has really changed? Please don’t mistake PR spin as change. The PAP already has good spin doctors, they don’t need additional folks like yourselves to help carry their spin.
Count me as one of the 30% of all folks identified by the IPS as perennial cynics. But personally I believe I would recognise genuine change when I see it.