27 July 2006

Oh Dear. I Feel Worried For PM Lee.

July 27, 2006
PAP wants 'hip, happening' image to click
with the young

Party's conservative style needs to be updated to get in sync with younger generation, says PM Lee

By Li Xueying

FROM 'conservative' and 'staid', to 'hip and happening': The People's Action Party (PAP) wants to update its style to connect better with younger Singaporeans.

Party secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong wants the PAP to 'get more in sync with the younger generations' culture and be on their wavelength'.

In an editorial in the latest issue of the PAP party organ Petir, he spelt out the challenge for the 52-year-old party: 'The party's style is conservative, even retro. But the values, perspectives and lifestyles of our young have moved on from those of our older generations, and will continue to change rapidly.'


So while the young had shown strong support for the PAP, more needs to be done to keep pace with them, he added.

He cited as an example the 'criticism' from his children, in their teens and 20s, after they all attended a PAP election rally.

On the way home, they told their 54-year-old father what they thought of the experience: 'Too staid, too logical, not 'lively' enough, not at all attractively presented to them'.

Said Mr Lee: 'I have heard the same criticism from other young people. It is not just our rallies, but the party's overall approach to putting our message out and involving our supporters in our activities.'

One 'great success' when the party connected with younger members was at the Young PAP's 20th anniversary rally in April, complete with balloon clappers and cheerleaders.

'But we need to do more,' he said. 'We have to build up more groups of active supporters who will contribute ideas and fight for our cause.'

Mr Lee has asked a team of new MPs, born after 1965 and called the P65 Team, to 'recommend ways to better connect with the young and to make fresh proposals for a more hip and happening PAP' ....
The man wants to be more "hip and happening". Gosh. This is the kind of line which I expect to hear from yesteryear's pop stars, like the Bee Gees or Barry Manilow. Or maybe even from the participants in Singapore Idol.

But I start to worry when I hear such a line coming from the Prime Minister of Singapore. And it terrifies me to hear PM Lee cite, as a positive example, a Young PAP's event with "balloon clappers and cheerleaders".

Behold - the future is in our pom poms.

The ST article tells us that the PAP wants to change from 'conservative' and 'staid', to 'hip and happening'. My goodness. Mr Lee, this is NOT quite the way to go.

Your party IS too "conservative" and "staid". But instead of striving to be "hip and happening", why don't you strive to be more "open & consultative"; "flexible & responsive"; or "innovative & dynamic".

The man has lost his way. He has really, really lost his way.

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Jackson Tan said...

One 'great success' when the party connected with younger members was at the Young PAP's 20th anniversary rally in April, complete with balloon clappers and cheerleaders.

Are we the only ones who are stunned by this, or are we supposed to expect candidates breakdancing in the next election rallies?

Anonymous said...

On the way home, they told their 54-year-old father what they thought of the experience: 'Too staid, too logical, not 'lively' enough, not at all attractively presented to them'.

Said Mr Lee: 'I have heard the same criticism from other young people. It is not just our rallies, but the party's overall approach to putting our message out and involving our supporters in our activities.'

Hmmm even from his own there are not sensible thoughts. Brings one to wonder what goes on in the next line of leadership in singapore. Should we woo the young and stick to immature ideas or encourage the young to grow up?

Guess my 2 cents worth and ramblings.

Anonymous said...

He listens to his children.. no doubt who themselves would become 'super scholars ' just because they are born into the family...

He might want to ask, why is it that he felt he cannot connect to the younger generation? Is it really an image issue? If it is, I would be very disappointed that is the only factor.

If not, then perhaps he should question the very education which makes the younger generation so apathetic.

Sorry if I am not making much sense here.

Mezzo said...

"Are we the only ones who are stunned by this, or are we supposed to expect candidates breakdancing in the next election rallies?"

If the MM breaks into moves from Lady Marmelade ala Lil'Kim, I promise to vote for the PAP, now and forever.

Funny that the PM didn't mention his son saying this during the elections. As I recall, he said that his son went for an oppo rally, and complained that it was "all wayang, no substance."

Anonymous said...

PM Lee closest advisor seems to be his son nowadays. He has been mentioning his son more often than ever. Is it a prelude and introduction what is to come?

About PM Lee being proud about quoting examples using :

"One 'great success' when the party connected with younger members was at the Young PAP's 20th anniversary rally in April, complete with balloon clappers and cheerleaders."

is indeed stunning. I dont know whether to laugh or cry at our First World PM for saying those words.

This is not the first time he said silly statements since winning GE 2006.Just that out unthinking journalists never analyse his words and let Singapore readers wake up.

I think he really needs to undergo some competition in his life.Take it as a upgrading of his skills.

Vote more opposition into Parliament come GE 2011. If my dear PM cannot even handle competition from 10 Oppositionist, he can forget about negotiating with global governments or competing with them.

This is because he will not have 82 PAP MPs with him to win every negotiation with global governments.

My ideal number is 30 oppositionist.

Jt said...

recently, the straits times reported that 3 young MPS had a feedback session with some poly students and the strait times reported that the young mps take the effort to "dressed down" for the session to "connect" more with the audiences.... not too sure what they wear..but i guess they did not wear ties or white shirts;)
so i guessed the directive had been passed down from the boss-" please get a fashion consultant"

Anonymous said...

One insidious problem with the Government (and by extension, the civil service) is the obsession of style over substance.

It doesn't matter whether policies or programmes actually help the intended, as long as they appear to do so.

One e.g.: CPF account top ups to help the elderly and needy. But they have to jump through hoops and click online (when most of them are computer illiterate).

The ST headlines would be trumpeting the "millions of dollars" that go towards the needy. But how many of them actually get the top ups? Who knows, no detailed statistics would be provided. Monies set aside do not translate to monies received.

But PAP doesn't care. They would pat themselves on the backs, congratulating each other on another job well done.

Another bugbear of mine is the training programmes to help the unemployed get jobs. But how many actually get employed after they undergo the training? And how long do they stay in their new jobs? Do you know that 60% of those emplaced by MOM/WDA's Careerlink Centres quit within 3 months? That's an astounding figure.

But you won't hear that in the papers. The ST would focus on the tens of thousands of workers who were helped by the Government. The statistics include those who visit the careerlink Centres, but did not get any form of assistance. This looser definition helps to inflate the figures.

In this age of consumerism, marketing hype sadly takes precedence over the product. But surely this can't extend to the governance of a country?

PAP needs a crisis to trigger some much-needed soul-searching. Perhaps this will come with the passing of the Father.

Anonymous said...

Man, next time we can see more dancing in Parliament. We also need to discuss issues in parliament such as how to make STOMP more hip, and is it time for MrBrown to change his style of humour to cater to the young people.

Whispers from the heart said...

I am looking for the day they hold their parliamentary sessions at a night spot, like zouk or something equally hip. I must say I am quite out of touch in this area.

I think our PM is having a mid-life crisis?! He is looking at his son and seeing all the hip things he does and longing to do them, I guess.

I secretly habour a thought that PM did not have a meaningful childhood. He was too busy being groomed to be PM.

I can't agree more with the observation that our government is observed with vanity. Looking good, feeling young and buying the latest gadgets and gizmos to please ourselves.

What happen to good old governing the country with a heart and soul?

I weep for Singapore.

wert said...

It's an insult to young people that they will be impressed with more "balloon clappers and cheerleaders". No, we don't need anymore "hip and happening" (this is the new spin for wayang). In fact, it's one of things that we want less of.

Mr Wang's closing comments to be most apt and the best piece of advice to the PM.

//Your party IS too "conservative" and "staid". But instead of striving to be "hip and happening", why don't you strive to be more "open & consultative"; "flexible & responsive"; or "innovative & dynamic".//

moomooman said...

Actually it's nothing new about such initiatives. They have been doing that for a while with other TLC.


Anonymous said...

PAP knows they're fighting a battle with the current late 20somethings - 30somethings. this group doesn't care about fashion style as much as they do about policies.

"hip and happening" to catch the teens and twenty-somethings and wow them with PAP's image. and of course, PAP's policies/rules/whatever remain unchanged and MAINTAINS THE QUALITY. go figure.

Joseph Chiang said...

i give up.

Anonymous said...

i puked tis morning

Anonymous said...

"I think our PM is having a mid-life crisis?! He is looking at his son and seeing all the hip things he does and longing to do them, I guess.

I secretly habour a thought that PM did not have a meaningful childhood. He was too busy being groomed to be PM."

Michael Jackson can help him in a Deprive Childhood Workshop for Troubled Adults.

LHL can attend the workshop while his son takes over his job.

Anonymous said...

Low Thia Kiang is probably the most boring uncle you can get. Chee Soon Juan these days is drab and almost too polite. Yet they command listeners and crowd like no other. It is not their image but their words and messages that stir the imagination. It is not the form but the substance that matters. It just shows once again how out of touch the PAP is.

Anonymous said...

he sure makes young people sound frivolous!

Anonymous said...

Err, Mr Prine Minister, Sir, "hip n happenin" in this country wouldn't be caught dead being in the same biosphere as the PAP. Sure you want to go that way ?

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I don't think he even understands his own son. I was at the Ang Mo Kio rally early to get a vantage point for my videocam, and saw the kid with a whole bunch of other RI students who came armed with makeshift ground sheets. They were prepared for a picnic, replete with snacks and drinks, and calling over their friends on their handphones. But kids being kids, they left early (probably when the candies ran out), before the main speakers came on to the stage. They couldn't have come away with an iota of the powerful messages that resounded in the heartland on that memorable and emotionally charged evening. But that's typical of the guy who claims he knows ALL about the Matrix even thought he hadn't even seen the movie. I only hope that he won't be embarassing us much in this year's national day rally speech.

Anonymous said...

How dare you bloggers make fun of PM Lee !!!!

I will make sure this is reported to relevant authorities.

I want steps to be taken to curb people like you.You do not understand what PM Lee is going through.

How dare you all !!!

I will make sure this Mr Wang gets shit !!!!

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Mr Wang,
How thoughtful of you to worry for Mr. Lee!
He is just experiencing a mid-life crisis like the rest of us of his generation!
I too have trouble keepin up with my kids' hip-hop and garage punk music!
Well, so long as all this leads him to open up more- no matter how mis-conceived his ideas are!
Must try to get his children to more opposition activies and may be he will loosen up even more!Who knows one of these days, that will include the polical space, and not the usual cultural and social scenes. Where there is life, there is hope right?
Dr. Huang

Anonymous said...

Actually,I don't mind the PAP continuing this train of thought.

It would be interesting to see the Ministers dancing the hip-hop and rapping on stage. They had already started with some hand signs right after the election which were supposed to be hip.

Imagine the PM delivering the National Day Rap-py instead of the National Day Rally.

Joke aside.
What is wrong with these people?
How can a politician be so clueless in reading sentiments?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's party!

Anonymous said...

This year's national day rally will be held in a big top. Attendees will be given candy floss and unlimited pop-corn. The new (lady) MPs will be swinging on the trapeze, protected by the biggest safety net money can buy. The new (men, clown) MPs will have big smiles painted on their faces in the style of Bozo. Elephants (foreign imports, definitely not White) will lead the start of the parade, guided by the trail of $600K peanuts scattered in the ring. Then the spotlights will be trained on the ringmaster, still wearing shoes several sizes too big. No prizes for guessing who will be cracking the whip.

Anonymous said...

Being brought up in a family under the strong influence of MM Lee, probably during his young day, he don't even have the opportunity to be asked about his own view or opinion!!! Now that at least he is trying to listen and understand what son is thinking. I think PM Lee need lot of courage and strong will to come out of the shadow of his father.

I totally agreed that to get connected is not just about balloon clappers and cheerleaders. He need to be more open-minded, humble and receptive to criticism, though it won't happen overnight. But hope not too slow as nowaday younger generation is very dynamic and impatient....

Anonymous said...

Wow, Mr Hwang,

I love your understanding of PM LHL. Can't put it any better!

Such a crying shame that with so many spin doctors they engage, words like this still spews from PM's mouth!

Worse. These were written in the lightning magazine. Don't they have quality controllers in their machinery? Or is MM the only QC around?

Some weep, some puke, I smile :)

With such a ruler in PAP - PAY & POO ;) what else can I do?

They paid me my progress package before the election. Now the shit all over me after the election with all the price hikes -taxi, PUB, MRT.

What next?

My sincere thanks to you for letting me lighten up!


Anonymous said...

hi sporescores:

Thanks for the link, I must have remembered wrongly. So it was 60% that stayed on for at least 3 months.

Which meant 40% quit within 3 months. That is still an abysmal result.

Anonymous said...

We've got the People, we've got the Action, let's Party!

Anonymous said...

hi sporescores, i'm sure there're legitimate reasons why the success rate is so low.

But my concern is how they trumpet their resounding successes via the mass media, and paint a picture very different from reality. My fear is over time, PAP will begin to believe their own propaganda.

Perhaps this is the cause of the Singapore Affective Divide (SAD), between PAP and the people.

Anonymous said...

Dear Boon,
u could still be right.
Cos sporescores said that "60% stayed on the job for at least 3 months."

So theoretically, 40% could have quit within three months, and the remainder 60% could have quit ON THE THIRD MONTH + ONE DAY right?

And the statistics would still be totally accurate.

That is why they say there are "liars, damn liars, and statisticians."

Anonymous said...

I reckon that perhaps this is a sign of cluelessness and desperation on LHL's part as he already had conceded publicly that the next election in 5 years time will (inevitably) be much tougher....Those youths 16 years and above will be eligible to vote by then and assuming there are 50,000 post '65 youths born per year, it means another 250,000 voters will be coming onboard in the next election. With these net savvy youths voting for the first time, I would expect challenging times for the PAP if they choose to remain status quo. Renewal itself is just too simplistic and insufficient; more substantive initiatives required are loosening up media control, tolerating and allowing disagreements/dissent, behaving more humanely and humbly etc etc...

Wishful thoughts perhaps but I can assure Mr Wang that you are not alone to feel worried....indeed the whole MIW leadership must be very very worried.

Anonymous said...


le radical galoisien said...

This is hilarious. I'm not worried at all. You see, when you try to "pursue the youth" without actually knowing or empathising with their position (other than expert marketeers, who usually consult heavily with individuals) one will inevitably fail.

The next election is going to be full of camp and kitsch that it will be painful. But at least I know it will detract voters.

When I was young in P5 and P6 and watched the speeches, I still supported the PAP. I wanted the opposition parties to win a few seats so I could finally rebut to my American friends that Singapore wasn't truly authoritarian. Then the PAP speakers would make a few clichés and I would squirm because I worried that other people would think bad of it.

Now I can only rejoice.

This is not going to get through the youth at all.

Mr Lee, do you know what's "hip and happening"? Genuine expression. The youth doesn't care about the past reputation, they don't care that your party has ruled the country for the past 47 years with stability.

Maybe you can start an actual genuine blog like our dear Indonesian friend?

One of the most perpetuating clichés, portrayed over and over again, is about the use of youth clichés in itself. Over time, phrases, fashion and whatnot become clichéd and fall out of favour. Even if a lot of us aren't really into the "hip and happening" ourselves (trends just exist. usually one doesn' tworry about them.) Then we can only moan when the older generation tries to "connect with us" by emphasising the youth's use of trends and whatnot.

"Be on our wavelength"? Seriously.

Try liberal democracy and political rights. I hear that's the "happening" thing nowadays.

Anonymous said...

the lack of authenticity - that is the problem.

Anonymous said...

Anyone recall about some beauty queen or what being appointed by the MIW as NMP some time back?

I supposed that is also a way for them to smoke us about how they are being 'Hip and Happening'.

But obviously, no matter what kind of image they are trying to smoke us, the fact remain that they are just the same old MIW. The perfect example would be the Ah Brown incident. Don't you think a true' hip and happening' ruling party would have taken the article with a sense of humor and laugh it off like the rest of us did? So why the invisible whip then?

Anonymous said...

<< I reckon that perhaps this is a sign of cluelessness and desperation on LHL's part as he already had conceded publicly that the next election in 5 years time will (inevitably) be much tougher >>

Of course it will be much tougher. Because the world is changing, but the PAP has not, and won't. Looking at the past 20 years, in order to stay in power the regime resorted to more fixing and buying of votes, instead of less. Going ahead, it will tighten its controls instead of loosen or open up. Those of you optimists who believe otherwise really need to wake up.

Anonymous said...

Ooi Mr Wang, can you please remove the pix of the Fat pong pong girls .... really spoil image man!!

(of your blog)

sexy babes are ok.

Anonymous said...

Aiyah u don't be so mean lah, give the PAP a space to breathe.

Just like the animal training theory, u keep hitting the animal for any tricks it shows and say "higher" "not this pose" and so on, the animal will never learn its tricks well.

Give the PM a pat on the shoulder and tell him that yes, 10 points for this but u can score another 10 if you do this.

While the PAPs have dangle carrots in front of us during an election, it is also time for us to dangle some sausages and tell them what to prepare for dangling in the next election so that the pathetic votes will increase by a few percentile!


wert said...

I diagree about the PAP dangling carrots part. Thay use a heavy carrot flavoured stick.

A carrot: I will give you upgrading
(win or not)
A stick: I will make sure you suffer.

Carrot flavoured stick: If I win, upgrading for you. If I lose, I will make sure you get it.

Whispers from the heart said...

Some even say the government made us pay for the stick, on credit. Now, must pay up. Stick, they keep.

Anonymous said...

Do I sense another organized dancing frenzy on Orchard Road again aka GCT

Anonymous said...

If prom prom girls really appear on stage of a PAP rally, I am quite certain that i am not going back to SG for good... They built a V-shaped pyramid and are still putting more bricks on it....

Anonymous said...

To Marcus:
Scholars can mug. But they can't think. But the pappies think otherwise. That's the whole problem.

Anonymous said...

Ah, that's a sign of desperation and lacking in confidence.

If he's certain of himself and his party, he wouldn't have to change anything.

Good luck PAP!

Anonymous said...

PM Lee still insists on using the third world standard to rule a first world nation which is now facing tremendous pressure and competition.A very small boat being surrounded by many bigger NEW ships in the deep,blue ocean.

I feel that one needs not be a first class rocket scientist from Cambridge to understand the implication.

Our local Ah Bengs would simply call this:Digging one's own grave,in time to come.

Anonymous said...

extracted from i-speak blog

"Firstly, Singaporeans vote with their feet, and their feet leads them to the dollar. The PAP has its 66.6% mandate largely because of the 41 years of competence and prosperity we have enjoyed since independence. As Singapore has (and I must say, with much aplomb) made its transition from Third World to First, it is no longer possible to sustain the stellar growth which has made the PAP so wildly popular.

As a 1st World country, two of the major challenges we face are rising costs of living and an expanding income gap. For instance, with regards to income gap: somone recently pointed out to me that Singapore has a very high Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is used to calculate the income inequality of a country. A Gini index of 0 would mean perfect equality, and an index of 100 means perfect inequality. I did some research and according to the 2005 UNDP Human Development Index report, Japan as a positive example of a prosperous society with equity has a Gini index of 24.9, while the country with the greatest income inequality that I could find was Lesotho, with an index of 63.2. Singapore has an index of 42.5. This is unusually high for a developed nation, and puts us way behind India, whose index is miles lower at 32.5, and frankly, when I find out that Singapore's income inequality is in a far worse state than India's, I worry.

The PAP has always said that a rising income gap is a problem that comes with development and powering the economy ahead. Well, yes. But developed countries such as Norway, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, Finland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, and countless other countries have all dealt better with that problem. Even the United States, which is widely considered as the prime example of prosperity that comes at the price of extreme income inequality, has less of a problem than we do, with a Gini index of 40.8! But everyone knows there are poor people in the States. Why are we in Singapore so unaware of those who make up our lower income brackets?

We have managed to quite effectively gloss over the problem so far, but I wonder how long it can continue to fester unaddressed before people start to notice something's wrong. The PAP will have to find solutions for these new problems in order to continue propagating the idea of success and prosperity to the increasingly discontented masses. It is not enough to tell us that these are problems which are inevitable -- proper solutions also need to be found, and a Progress Package doesn't cut it. And if anyone tells me I'm being an unconstructive, cynical, despondent armchair critic, I will scream. I'm only the messenger.

Secondly, another key reason why the PAP has a strong mandate has to do with the state-linked mainstream media. These institutions, ranging from the conservative Straits Times to the news agency I bear the most bitterness towards, Channelnewsasia, turn into the voices of the PAP during elections. Self-censorship rears its ugly head, and suddenly the world is rosy for Singapore, we've never heard of these vulgar things called 'problems', and wide-lens cameras suddenly find themselves unwilling or incapable to capture anything but the small but packed mosh pit of PAP supporters at close range.

The trends so far suggest to us that the PAP has no intention of relinquishing its influence on mainstream media, as the mr brown incident most notably displayed. I'm not sure how sustainable this tactic is. This is especially since the PAP has made the decision to leave the Internet largely unregulated. At present, this may be related to the fact that the Internet does not have the reach nor the influence of mainstream media. If it isn't a threat, the government feels content enough to leave it be. But this also means that increasing numbers of Singaporeans may begin to flock online for political discourse and alternative sources of information which represent views that supplement mainstream media that is often skewed towards a pro-establishment perspective.

The PAP itself recognizes that it is dealing with a new generation of post-65ers who are apparently looking for fresh faces, hence its strategy of leadership renewal. I wonder if it also recognizes the implications of this realization: that this very same upcoming generation of post-65ers are Net-savvy and blog-literate. Furthermore, the proliferation of the Internet in Singapore is only going to accelerate. We need look no further than Intelligent Nation 2015 to realize that Singapore aims, by 2015, to have 90% home broadband usage and 100% computer ownership in households with school-going children (source). Foreign commentators didn't call GE 2006 the world's first Internet election for nothing. If any country has both the reason and the means to go online for its information, it's Singapore.

The PAP is faced with several crossroads in this respect. The one it is least likely to take: liberalization of the media. Without a drastic change in top leadership or the voting in of an alternative party, this isn't going to happen. Once something is established, taken for granted, and carried out as standard operating procedure for decades, it is very difficult to impossible to change it, especially if it has worked for the PAP for so long. The second option is more chilling -- clamp down on the blogosphere. Okay, you know what, I don't even want to think about that one, and at any rate it's been spoken about to death. The third option is the status quo, which to all appearances, the PAP is going to pursue.

If so, it will have to learn to deal with the blogosphere (and by this, I don't mean by restricting it -- I mean by responding to it, and monitoring it to get a feel of voter sentiments and groundswell issues), and it will also have to learn how to deal with journalists who push the envelope. God willing there will be an increasing number of daring professionals in the media. My experiences suggest there are.

I had no idea I had so much to say about it, and truth be told, I could say more, but I think I've made my point: if the PAP wants to stay engaged, I think it has to come up with something than better than just "leadership renewal"."

Anonymous said...

you say "oh dear. I feel worried for PM Lee". why? u worried for him?

le radical galoisien said...

Best part of "hip and happening": making "Home" a rock song.

Wah, I can appreciate good propaganda, but the establishment seems even more clueless. Tranquility and rock do not together.

Anonymous said...

Does he think he can coin terms for everything? There was the "Study less, learn more". Now, a "hip and happening" party?

Whispers from the heart said...

Very tired of his 'hype and harping' leadership style, I think he should just 'talk less, do more'?

Wonder if he reviewed his KPIs on 'fixing opponents, buying your votes' strategy for political stability?