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If you still have doubts that the elections are coming soon, look no further that last Friday’s edition of the Straits Times (ST). It featured a one-and-a-half-page colour spread of PAP MP, Dr Teo Ho Pin, smiling toothily and looking very prince charming-like, an honour usually reserved only for Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
The ST writers, Nur Dianah and Chia Yan Min, didn’t even try to hide the fact that it was a campaign message aimed at bolstering Dr Teo’s position. Headlined “Mr Popular still riding high”, the article describes the MP of Bukit Panjang as an affable and hardworking chap. Quotes of praise for him pour forth.
The over-the-top fawning over Dr Teo signals to us one thing: the PAP is nervous about the SDP’s on-going campaign at Bukit Panjang and it is getting the newspaper to give the incumbent as much help as possible in the upcoming fight.
Problems? What problems?
What about the issues that has plagued the constituency? The takeover of Fajar-market by Sheng Siong and the subsequent price increase? Not a problem because Dr Teo says residents can shop elsewhere if they don’t like Sheng Siong’s prices. “The SDP is making a mountain out of a molehill,” he accuses.
Accompanying his comment is a photograph of a Fajar Sheng Siong shop vendor pictured like she doesn’t have a care in the world and who “continues to sell her vegetables and provisions at the same prices.”
What about the problem of the Town Council (TC) losing the residents’ money in toxic financial investments? Not a problem either because, according to Ms Nur and Chia, the residents say that the economy has picked up and that “they are confident that the TC will be able to recoup the investment losses.”
And how do they know this? What evidence or information do they have to make this claim? Evidence? Information? What’s that? This is an advertisement for Dr Teo, remember?
Coincidentally, or not, the ST did not mention the amount the TC lost in the investments – $2 million.
And then there os the matter of the eight-month bonus that some of Dr Teo’s Community Development Council staff received when the economy was at its depth of recession? The ST didn’t probe – just one of those inconvenient truths that no one is really interested in, right?
ST: PAP good, SDP bad
So with all these problems solved and nothing to trouble Dr Teo, the writers conclude: “With the popularity of Dr Teo and the general satisfaction of the constituents with their estate, any opposition party that jumps into the fray will have to fight more on national rather than municipal issues. Whether they will gain traction remains to be seen.”
And who is this opposition party? The piece refers to this website and notes that the Singapore Democrats have “in the past few months…going from door to door at several blocks in the estate to speak to residents.”
But the newspaper makes sure that its readers know that the residents there do not want to vote for the SDP because “several Bukit Panjang residents voted for the PAP in the last general elections for lack of a better alternative.”
Here comes the clincher: “For Dr Teo, perhaps the challenge is not whether he will win, but whether he can maintain the scale and magnitude of his previous win.”
So the Straits Times has spoken: Dr Teo is so popular and the SDP is so bad that he cannot be beaten.
The whistle for the election race has just been blown and the ST is starting to bark already.
As we said, this piece signals one thing: The PAP is nervous about our campaign in the constituency. Hence, this huge political advertisement for Dr Teo.
But while Dr Teo has such luxury, the Singapore Democrats enjoy no such advantage. Nor do we want it. We want to win by convincing voters through open debate and by the power of reason. We want to demonstrate our competence, not just spew propaganda.
We want to capture the hearts and minds of voters through our alternative ideas and the logic of our proposals. We want voters to know of our constructiveness and how our ideas are superior to the PAP’s.
We want Singaporeans to know that they can create a society that doesn’t celebrate the PAP and its elite at the expense of the ordinary folk; that together with the SDP we can build a better and more compassionate Singapore for all.