GE2015: Lessons for the Oppositions to take away

Landslide, swing, shock… Call it whatever you want. After the dust settles, it’s time to look at what this GE means to the oppositions.

1. Get your act together. Stop cutting corners – you guys have joined the elections enough to know that posters, rallies and walkabouts are the important components to get in touch with the people.

2. Put together a proper (social) media team. Get in touch with the people on the ground in an effective, efficient and amicable way. The way they dealt with my simple request of asking for the list of rally speakers is bullcrap.


As far as I was tracking, the team saw my message the following morning (9/6), but took 3 days to get back to me… without the simplest answers. I had actually intended to write an article about the commendable portions and candidates of their rally. 

3. A change of leadership. It’s time for people to rediscover what Reform Party is about on a clean slate. Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s image and speeches do not resonate with the mass locally, even if it may have worked in other countries.

4. Attract more talents and supporters from the Chinese. From what I see in your team, you guys have outstanding minority representatives, but you can’t win the majority support with just the minority.

1. It’s time to start fixing your old problems – ridiculously severe lack of media relations before and especially during the elections.
WP Twitter
If you cannot hear the people’s questions and understanding of what you said during the elections, why do they have to believe that you’ll hear them as an MP? 

2. Get back to the basics. There’s no shortcut to winning, so focus on the SMCs next. Win the hearts one vote at a time. Let the outstanding candidates like Daniel Goh, Gerald Giam be more prominent in their fields of expertise, and create distinct political impressions.

3. Focus on your game like how you used to, instead of trashing what the PAP is doing. This is one of my biggest problem with the WP this General Elections, second to their lack of public & media relations. If you want to talk about the AHPETC, get it over and done with in the first rally, then MOVE ON.

Instead of telling the people things they already know like gerrymandering, offer new solutions and ideas that resonate with their concerns. Transportation is a great lost opportunity that should have taken centre stage at this year’s GE.

4. WP’s signature “commoner presence” and diligence. Back during Punggol East’s by-election, I remember reading about Lee Li Lian’s diligence in hoping to visit all the blocks in the constituency within the limited time period – it struck me as a sincere and efficient act of a rookie but that seems to be missing from this GE across the board.

While people are laughing at PAP’s kopitiam press conference, it had actually gotten them off on a good start. On the contrary, WP seems to be lacking in the connection to ground updates compared to the last election.


5. Rediscover what humility means.

“Humbling” and “humble experience” – the keywords echoing in the people’s ears from the PAP this GE. Instead, WP seems to have switched roles with PAP.

If you are losing a contest and you said it’s the best team you have, it shows that you are at your peak but it is still not enough for the people. I wished WP were more along “this is our new generation leaders who will stay and work even harder for the next GE” and maybe even an honest “we’ll reflect on what we haven’t done enough and hopefully, present an improved team for the next GE.”

For Ms Lee Li Lian, too, losing a contest at your age is nothing more than experience to get better. I was disappointed with your seemingly passive speech post-announcement of results. Maybe you should learn something from Mrs Chiam – she became an NCMP and spoke actively in parliament, doing good for the 40+% that voted for her. She remains humble, diligent and grateful for the people who voted for her and vowed to work hard if people still need her. It’s not the end of the world, but the beginning of an uphill journey to success. Do the 40+% who voted for you proud. Mrs Chiam is still standing strong at her age, with her level of education and a drastic drop in support. What’s your excuse?

1. Look for new talents. SPP is need of a party renewal to restart on a clean slate too. Mr Chiam is a legend but it’s time to move on. Mrs Chiam should be leading a team, not to be in the game, especially now that the voters have spoken and first impressions are hard to change.

2. Move on. Yes, Potong Pasir holds a special place in your heart but to the new generation, tell them what you can offer from this point on. There’s no chance reversing development in Potong Pasir. I liked what your team said about the whole point of having void decks at HDB, which are now being made into centres, depriving people of interaction space and funeral spaces close to home. Maybe widen your perspective and work on this issue on a national level?

3. Cut down on the wayang. You don’t need people to go up on stage during your rally speech to give you flowers.

4. Political image. Politicians need to look the part and sound the part. The candidates have to speak like politicians, not fiery uncles who are looking to pick a fight with the government. Let your candidates do what they do best, instead of struggling onstage during the rally.

5. Set yourself apart. When people think of WP, they think of discipline and somewhat an alternative government. When people think of SDP now, they are reminded of Chee’s motivational speeches. What sets SPP apart from the other parties, beside the legacy of Mr Chiam?


1. The right time to start preparing for the next GE begins TODAY. It’s old news for PAP to call for election in advance so walk the ground, do your research, get the numbers, start recruiting talents and volunteers as soon as you can.

2. Always work in a range – range of talent pool, range of topics, range of tactics.

3. Online presence. Stop expecting people to read your blogs of rants & essays. It’s the digital age where you should learn to get your point across within 15 seconds.

4. Widen your vision – go beyond topics on the ground level, and tackle issues such as foreign affairs, economics, etc.

5. Create a respectable political impression. Stop the excessive jeering, booing, name-calling and constant rants about PAP being unfair. Why should they be fair to let you win? You’re a worthy opponent only if you beat them at their game.

Have a probation/observation period for newcomers in your party. Make sure you learn enough about them before you put them out to represent your team. The whole situation of random people party-hopping damages everyone’s credibility.


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