With Png Eng Huat secured as the newly elected MP, the WP has started to do what they need to do to serve the Hougang residents and win more hearts for the next GE in 2016. Desmond Choo too would be busy mapping out his strategies to win the Hougang residents to his side, which, given the current development and sentiment, is likely to be a daunting task.
Winning back Hougang is a much smaller issue to the ruling party than the bigger picture of winning the rest of the Sinkies and to remain relevant in 2016. What is the party’s position in the aftermath of the Hougang? What would it be thinking and doing to win back the support it has lost, not only in Hougang but across the island? I think they must know that the ground has shifted. What would the master strategists be plotting after the Hougang fiasco?
The easiest task of all would be to relook at the policies and how they can be tweaked or fine tuned to benefit the original citizens more than new citizens or PRs. The people’s aspirations and expectations are not difficult to match. The people are not asking for the sky. They do not expect money to be thrown at them for their votes. The Hougangkia have made sure that this point was not missed during the by election. The electorate is sensible and is just looking for more favourable and people centric policies. Any attempt to sugar coat or to smooth talk unfavourable policies as favourable policies, like affordability when it is not, would be taking the electorate for granted and would only backfire as in the by election.
Positive actions for concrete positive results would easily win back the fence sitters or those that have switched camps. Many still would not want too big a change. What could be unfortunate would be negative thoughts and negative actions that would only generate more anger and distaste. It is very easy for some to think of how to deal with those that were opposing the party or spoke ills of the party. It is very easy to bring out the hatchet and go hacking away. An ‘inquisition’ will go down very badly and will not work in an increasingly transparent environment.
Like they say, winning a battle only to lose a war, any mis-steps and miscalculations along such line will only lead to more desertion from the ranks and an abandonment of the party. The party cannot afford to create more distrust and bad publicity. The brash tactics of the past belonged to the past and a new strategy of winning the electorate would have to be formulated on the basis of mutual trust, respect and fair play. Are there still elements that think it is still acceptable and doable to return to the old ways?
There are many critical voices in the social media that meant well. Would they be embraced and won over by genuine and good policies with good intentions, or would there be a witch hunt? Witch hunting is as easy as doing the right thing with right policies to better the lives of the people. It is just the other extremity and will have extreme results.
Ironically, the party should thank the critical voices that want the party to do well, to look after the people well. Ironically too, the enemies of the party are the hatchet men that could only think of wielding the choppers to go around slashing indiscriminately. Such negativity will never go unnoticed and will only bring more adverse reactions to the party. The internet can be very unforgiving and transparent, and go viral.
Win the critics and the sceptics by genuine good works and policies, and everything will fall back in place. Dismissing the critics/sceptics and not doing the rightful, and to take on a combative style to deal with everyone as enemies will lead to a sure gone conclusion. The people are not your enemies.
Could we see a renewed party with a conviction and on a constructive path to redeem itself, or a vindictive party on a rampage? Would the party embrace the change, the new normal and take on the new challenge in its stride? The third path is to do nothing and continue with business as usual, as if everything is ok.