I read an article this morning about how PM Lee called the Opposition a “mouse in the house”. To just fully quote him:
“You voted for a tiger in the chamber and you got a mouse in the House … It’s one of these Frankenstein monsters… Every night, it turns into a tiger and every day, it turns into a mouse.”
His party minders must totally be applauding him for this brave move. To them, he’s come out swinging. He just Nicki Minaj’ed the Worker’s Party with his own version of “What’s good”.
But if you ask a Brand/Marketing/PR/Polsci afficionado guy what transpired, you may get a very different answer: I think he just seriously hurt his Aljunied GRC team’s chances.
The Messaging Disconnect
For the past year, we’ve been hearing about how the PAP has wanted to “progress together” with Singaporeans like you and me. Riding high on SG50 patriotism, PM Lee surfed the wave right into National Day Rally, giving goodies and connecting high and low. Make no mistake, it was an election speech.
“If you are proud of what we have achieved together, if you support what we want to do ahead, the future that we are building, then please support me, please support my team because my team and I cannot do anything just by ourselves.”
You know, the message was soft, friendly and warm to the average Singaporean. It was almost comforting. There was almost nothing threatening about him. A rather different preposition as compared to say, his father, 25 to 30 odd years ago.
Amping Up the Rhetoric
Those that have stubbornly refused this to bow to this new, softer image are the same people that vote opposition. Their refusal to accept that the PAP has indeed changed is a pre-requisite for further entrenchment of that idea. The statement was basically, a bolt from the blue.
This wouldn’t sit well with the folks already resistant to the charms of the ruling party. Those that reside in hot zones like Aljunied-Hougang and East Coast would take serious offence to what is, in PM Lee’s mind, a just a way of calling out his opponents. Let’s break his statement down:
“You voted for a tiger in the chamber and you got a mouse in the House..”
That is to say “EYYYY you voted for big talk, no show” people. To which those that have voted for the Opposition would then say “Hey if we didn’t vote for them, would you have started working harder for us?”
The idea that rising opposition support in the populace results in the incumbent’s subsequent action is hard to prove. What isn’t hard to prove is that when someone is putting pressure on an incumbent to perform, it would cause the latter to feel uncomfortable at the very least. Now… on to the next part:
“It’s one of those Frankenstein monsters…”
Yeah, that was also uncalled for. What a comparison. Here’s a Frankenstein:
Now I get that it’s a nuanced way of saying “they’re chameleons and have no idea what they’re saying”. But to the general public, you just said “THEY UGLY”.
So to the PAP, here’s basically how they think it went down.
But to existing opposition supporters, It’s less “Shot’s Fired” and more “Foot in mouth”.
What was basically a call for voters to vote PAP has turned into an arrogant sounding, name-calling statement, amplified by social media and near-instant video posting. PM Lee didn’t mean it that way, but it sure sounded like that. He could have swung some disgruntled opposition voters over to his side, he could have even sweetened the ground further for his team. Instead, he’s hardened the hearts of opposition supporters everywhere.
I hope the PAP Aljunied team is ready, because their fight just got a heck of a lot harder.