Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A clarifying tale of two politicians from the legal sector

A former press secretary to a minister in Singapore once told me that it was not the policy of the leadership in power to respond to issues raised in the online or alternative media. I told the dutiful secretary that such thinking would one day cost the leadership, and be a thing of the past.

About ten days ago, Temasek Review Emeritus and news agency Associated Press published articles that, at an event organised by a policy think-tank, my friend, the Honourable Member of Parliament Vikram Nair ‘dismissed’ Singaporean opposition voters ‘nonchalantly’. He is alleged to have remarked, “Don’t focus too much on the 40 percent that didn’t vote for you. We have to remember and keep in mind the interests of the 60 percent that did.”

The story was picked up almost instantaneously on social platforms and it spread like wild-fire. Vikram’s remarks were controversial enough to cause the Honourable Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh to distance himself from Vikram’s remarks days later at another event.

Vikram has now clarified through social platforms that he was inaccurately quoted. Not surprisingly, The Online Citizen - the alternative media that is seen to balance the blunt views of Temasek Review Emeritus - has published Vikram’s reply.

As one of those taken aback by the remarks quoted who chose to give Vikram the benefit of doubt, I can accept his clarification.

However, what I cannot accept is that it took him a good ten days to respond with his position. I also cannot accept that, when he did so, he shared what he recollected rather than what was actually shared. If it was going to take so long to make available a response, he should have made available a transcript of what he said.

Think-tanks like Institute of Policy Studies, which organised the event, are known to make recordings of their events, if not take detailed notes of what happens at such events, for research or archival purposes.

Perhaps, Vikram faced some difficulties in getting hold of such records. Whatever the case is, the clarification appears to have come too late in diffusing the sting in an article positioned as a contemporaneous account of the event.

Compare this to a similar incident that happened at the same event involving another friend of mine, the Honourable Member of Parliament Pritam Singh. Mainstream media quoted Pritam as follows: "It may be a case in future whereby the PAP only wins 36 (seats) and we may have to form a coalition government."

Within a day, Pritam clarified his comments. His swift clarification helped to diffuse the sting in the remarks he was alleged to have made at the event.

It is heartening to know that the dominant leadership’s deliberate disenfranchisement of the alternative media is now a thing of the past but it would appear that the leadership in power has miles to go in its handling of adverse publicity in the alternative media.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?
Feel free to react below or leave a comment.


Ravi Philemon said...

Actually it was Winnipeg Free Press whcih broke the news on Vikram's comments on 7 July. Link: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/breakingnews/125202874.html

Anonymous said...

This may not be relevant but it is related to the topic.

I hope MP Vikram Nair is reading this blog.

I am one of the 60% you are referring. PAP got my vote because the opposition candidates weren't of high calibre at my constituency. I am still unhappy with some of the Govt policies and it wouldn't be the same the next time around when better opposition candidates stand. My families and friends also share the same opinion.

So do what is right or some of the 60% may not be with you in the next GE.

Dharmendra Yadav said...

Thanks Ravi. I have amended the article.

Anonymous said...

" I am one of the 60% you are referring. PAP got my vote because the opposition candidates weren't of high calibre at my constituency "

The above is fundamentally flawed and exposes a lack of objective reasoning.

It is flawed in that the writer expected the opposition candidates to be of 'high' calibre but ostensibly WITHOUT demanding the same of the PAP candidates.

Furthermore, he had not defined what he meant by 'high' calibre? Not surprising, as there are many Singaporeans who
have been so thoroughly brainwashed by the PAP's brand name that they commit such a fundamental error in thinking - the
unconscious tendency to give the PAP a huge benefit of the doubt while at the opposite end of the scale unreasonably expecting the moon from the opposition side! This is irrational! All said, he who thinks this way is displaying all the signs of being a victim of the PAP's thought control.

To continue to operate like this is to continue to allow the PAP to successfully manipulate and hence dominate you. You would forever condemn yourself and others in a trap of your own making. One antidote is to remind yourself that in whatever direction the PAP points to you, you should go in the direct opposite
direction! Just remember that LKY himself has said on more than one occasion that he sees no reason to help the opposition to succeed.
So in order to succeed one must keep the larger picture in mind all the time.
A proper strategy to adopt here is to vote for the PARTY that would help you to achieve your immediate objective of removing the shackles of the PAP, in this very necessary larger context, ANY opposition party should be your automatic choice. For at the beginning of a movement or crusade, priority no. 1 is always to achieve the quantity, create a CRITICAL MASS. The bigger the better, for as always, it is when you have a situation of abundance can you then be able to find and choose
the few precious gems that you want from among the groups.

Think, there was only one LKY, one GKS and one DN filtered out from the original group that eventually became the PAP.Basic strategy demands that smaller groups should join
forces to have any hope of defeating a common bigger foe. Political and military history is repleat with examples of such manoeuvres. Even LKY and his group used it to gain power.

Anyone who start to nitpick from the very start cannot be really serious in his intention. Such a person is either a plant, a mole from an enemy or is one condemned to be slaves and puppets, if unknowingly, of other.

Anonymous said...

People make up political parties. The choice starts at the candidate on offer - party manifestos are vehicles constructed by backers with vested interest and perceptions.

We will always vote for the RIGHT guy, integrity, intelligence and graciousness. Often it is a choice of uglies rather than beauties.

It takes about 2-3 weeks to detect a phony at the hustings! Where they is a high reward at end of the election, believable actors tend to be elected.