The Online Citizen

An Internet elections – believe it or not?

October 05
10:02 2011

Howard Lee/

The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) is of the opinion that the May 2011 general elections cannot be termed the “Internet elections”.

It made this conclusion based on the results of a study it conducted following the general elections, which measured media use, trust and influence on voter choice. There were also other component research segments that rode on the back of the key survey, and these measured other qualities, such as online content generation and voter knowledge about opposition parties. The full results of the study were shared at a conference on 4 October attended by academia, politicians and media.

Some of the key findings that pointed to this conclusion were:

1) Only 30% of survey respondents used the Internet to obtain election information.

2) Of the 30%, more than 90% continue to use traditional media as a source of information on the elections (yes, that “ghettoising” comment).

3) While political parties have tried to use online media to reach out to voters, these efforts went largely unappreciated, as respondents demonstrated a general aversion towards using party websites as a source of information.

4) Measurements of media trust and influence did not indicate an unusual peak for online media over other channels.

That would be the quick and very rough preview of the survey, the bulk of which was presented by Tan Tarn How, senior research fellow at IPS. Now that I have stuffed that, let’s get to the crux question: Should we believe what IPS proposes? In other words, is 2011 the year where online media had a negligible impact on the elections?

I am not going to cast doubts on the results of the survey. Assuming that the research methodology was sound and that the survey sample of 2,000 was representative, there is every reason to believe that the data gathering was valid. Rather, it is the interpretation of the results that I take issue with. In fact, there were aspects of the interpretation that range from indifference to how the various media interact, to glaring presumptuous oversights, not all of which I care to discuss here.

Let’s look instead at the core. One of the qualities that the survey tried to measure was when voter choice was decided. It discovered that 57.6% of those who revealed how they voted have already decided who they want to vote for even before the elections date was announced. Ratings for influence on voting were also below average across all channels. These indicators suggests that 2011 might not even be a year for an “anything” elections, much less an Internet one.

Another problematic conclusion of the survey has to do with respondents’ trust of media sources, which indicated greater trust of traditional media over other sources. Was the survey referring to trust in the accuracy of the information, or the perceived fairness of information presented? The survey did not elaborate on this, which is unfortunate as it could have yielded very different results. More importantly, it should actually be the interplay of sources that allow media users to make that decision (i.e. you can’t in all honesty distrust what you do not know about or have not experienced), but that angle was not explored in the survey.

Instead, three outlying questions remain unanswered. If media did not inform their political outlook and choice, what did? How did they arrive at this conclusion for themselves? Did they then try to influence others about their votes, and how did they go about doing so?

If the researchers have expanded on these questions, they might have found an answer to the key question of the survey that provides greater insight into the multi-layered nature of social influence.

We do not simply refer to one source of information to make up our minds on who to vote. Neither do we make our voting choice based on information gathered around the hustings. We vote for political positions because of their influence on policy. Policy pervades the years leading up to each election. And in that duration, we would have discussed and debated many times over the merit of our policy makers, which in turn informs our votes for or against them.

As such, I believe the research made three assumptions that skewed, hopefully not the results of the survey, but how researchers approached the survey. First, it assumes that media influence can be measured merely by consumption patterns. This is wrong, as influence is only present at the point of assimilation.

Second, it assumes that decisions made on voting revolve around what happens during the elections. Perhaps it was technically impossible to research on years of media consumption, but this marginalises the effect that understanding on public policy has on voter preferences.

Third, the survey did not distinguish between alternative news content and alternative news media. This point was also picked up by some participants at the conference. The implications are obvious, as there is always cross-carriage of content between media, and it is content that determines assimilation and influence, not media type (you would agree only if you are as anti-MacLuhanistic as me).

If IPS has managed to shift focus to address these three aspects, then it would have begun to scratch the surface of what it called the “softer aspects” of online media, which Tan admitted that the survey found hard to quantify.

This energy of participation did not find its way into the research, and I would challenge that this effect is a better reflection of the impact of online media on local politics and social change. This impact deals with a wider spectrum of influence prevalent within society. It also accounts for the change in social perceptions that is driven by mutual influence of sources – traditional media with online media, word of mouth with social media, and so on.

A side chat with Tan in between the segments of the conference did confirm IPS’s awareness of the limitations of the survey, and that there can still be room for more in-depth research.

In fact, the welcome notes by Janadas Devan, director of IPS, probably said it best. Janadas indicated that we often exaggerated the immediate impact of new media on our culture and social life, but underestimated its long term effect. Indeed, it is this long term effect that advises the evolution of our media scene, gearing towards a political landscape that is already informed and influenced by the presence of online media, whatever the impact of that influence.

In fact, Tan opined during the question and answer session that in the last two years, online media was instrumental in putting a lot of issues up in the public domain. Tan believes that traditional media did cover such issues, but did not cover it in the persistent and snowballing way that online media did. This could allude to a spill-over effect that often underplays the influence of online media, as content and agendas become infused between types of media.

Via his tele-participation, IPR senior research fellow Cherian George also indicated that there is qualitative social contribution by some blogs that contribute to the wider political discourse in Singapore. While their editorial strategies differ, they all play a role in complementing what traditional media has to offer. He also indicated that when it comes to influence, recipients of ideas are not always aware of where the ideas are coming from, which enlightens my opinion that influence is usually multi-directional in nature.

It would seem that anecdotal evidence of news content and its use offers a better peek into spheres of influence happening in our society, political or otherwise. It is perhaps unfortunate that this evidence is never further explored to add value to the survey.

But if you think I am trying to counter-proof IPS’s conclusion and validate 2011 as the year of the Internet elections, you are wrong. Indeed, what I’m trying to suggest is whether there is even a need to determine this to begin with, and if so, whether we should focus so narrowly on the elections.

Online media is already a growing part of our social fabric. I would contest that there is no need to measure its influence – that is already a given. What is more pertinent is to discover how this influence disappears into our national psyche as we negotiate an evolving media space.

My concern, however, is with the intended readership of the survey and its research – from IPS, the study is supposed to be an informed read for academics, media representatives and most significantly, policy makers. If the simple conclusions are allowed to perpetuate within policy circles, the political elite would have no reason to pay attention to the online world. And we would all be more impoverished for it, because there is reason to believe that the dynamics of online media does play a critical role in developing the future of our socio-political landscape.

It will also be interesting to note how traditional media would cover the results, which in turn has an influence on policy makers. From the media briefing before and during the conference, it was clear that our friends from traditional media needed to deliver a story. They needed conclusive quotes – “The study by IPS indicated that…” – without imposing much valued judgment or analysis. Given the constraints of time and space they face, I don’t blame them.

As TOC writers, we always have the option of walking away without a story, if we found that the information provided made no logical sense. This sense of indifference is perhaps a unique trait of online media, and it surely adds an interesting dimension to our public discourse. Policy makers can only be worse off if they feel that they can ignore this substantially different conversation happening online, should they choose to believe that online media has little impact on elections.

  • Megah Laksana

    I am confused.

    Does it not count as well the use of social media such as facebook and twitter that is a part of everyday life to the majority of the youth and middle age in this day and age? Especially when it is now used as a platform for advertisments and sales/marketing (all this is of my own general knowledge)

    For the media (SPH) to discount something like that is just pure denial to the fact that the internet indeed. The internet has made so much more that a “soft” impact in the GE in May 2011.

    What good would it do for SPH to publish something like that when it is unrefutable that social media such as facebook, twitter is a huge factor in influencing the votes.

  • andrew leung

    Opposition candidates must establish their own internet presence and do more online marketing and personal branding. They should give out their own name cards and network more. Keep their own website updated, blogs, facebook/twitter page and build their following, do recruitment etc.

  • Titiana Ann Xavier

    IPS is no different from SPH. Their findings have always leaned towards making the PAP government look good. It tries to project an image that their studies are scholarly and pedantic. In actual fact, it is no think tank but a propaganda machine paid to churn out myths to deepen affinities for the PAP.

  • DML

    My tots precisely Titiana Ann Xavier.

    When IPS was merged into LKY school, outsiders who were involved in IPS because of Tommy Koh, voiced fears that it would be tamed.

    It has happened.

  • KTK

    As usual they think we are daft. How can such naive people be in the Institute of Policy Studies? How much are they paid?

    How come they didn’t include the alternative press like TOC and TRE . By the way, whats happended to TRE?

  • Maria Elena

    I want to puke when I first heard this news over the TV, last night.

    “I don’t know what to say!”

    PAP propaganda at its best!!

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    Who is Janadas Devan but the son of ex-PRESIDENT DEVAN NAIR who was disgraced and ousted by his ex-allies in the cabinet. Of all jobs, he chose them as his masters. Blood is not thicker than water.

  • KTK

    I think TOC should come up with a simple poll: “Do you agree with the Institute of Policy Study on internet election?”
    Yes or No.

  • mike

    i dont agree with msm at all. i believe the social internet media plays a very significant role in connecting the educated generation not only the young most mostly the 40-50s onwards like me.

    the sentitments across the generatons in generally not good if not bad for pap regime. though some sound out against but still voted for them is simply worry about thier security. however, quite sinificant figures of people like us is all out for change of gahment and for the future. the present one is not capacable at all despite of full support given by the people of singapore.
    the troube with msm had never been too truth about the real political issues most of them. unless the much younger gerenation who would take them for granted. other than that, the sentiments ground on the pap is not favorable.

  • Melvin Lim

    I’m sorry TOC, I know this is really off topic but I can’t help it….

    Hi Titiana AX, I like you!

  • rooster

    Great comment, Titiana. I like the part about churning out myths. In IPS, he who pays the piper calls the tune. How pathetic!

  • RC

    What I see as a major anomaly, and which Howard briefly touched on, is the cross-carriage of content.

    MSM can no longer claim to be the only source. News contents originates everywhere from internet to blogs to chats to social networks etc. Often we find newspapers reporting contents from online media, and vice versa. So to a certain extent, news on MSM are influenced by the online media which in turn influence voters. The fact that I learned that TPL is the most criticized candidate through newspaper does not eradicate online media’s influence on me since MSM wouldn’t even carry this news without the online media’s existence.

    In fact the reverse is more plausible. That the existence of online media shapes what gets reported on MSM. There have been many revelations originating from online sources and where the MSM found itself pressured to carry, which they did after dragging their feet for a while. So do you credit MSM for it or online media?

    Btw, what is the research question again? That whether or not this year’s election is strongly influenced by online community?

  • Azhar Khamis

    Why bother with their opinions in the first place. I would not give a rat’s ass. I rather channel all my energy to educate others who are still fooled by MSM to switch to the Internet.

  • Kill the PAP to Reinstall CPF @ 55 Withdrawal !!!

    1. The PAP throw smoke, to:
    2. The PAP wants to confuse Singaporeans to MASK real issues.
    3. PAP cover UP their OWN mistakes – skirt real ISSUES of CONINUOUS Shit Times BIASED reporting.
    4. PAP NOW Work VERY VERY hard to TRICK, to Tame, To LIE to SIngaporeans AS we NOW have One of the Strongest numbers of Opposition members in Parliament, both in quality AND in numbers.
    5. Lets ANALYSE and SEE clearly PAP Modus Operandi NOW -

    1.Wong Kan Seng IS retained (bullshit he resigned) by being assigned to Another area.
    2. Goh Now focus on Overseas relationship and AFFAIRS, 3 reasons, since he so called resigned, officially cannot be seen too much locally BUT it is good because of following point,
    3. Hsien Loong NOW has HIS mouth full, HIS hands full, HE HAS and MUST focussed ON to REALLY REALLY fix the Opposition NOW, so no time for overseas travels.
    4. Goh now focussed because of BG YEO exit,
    5. Kuan Yew resigned officially ONLY smoke Screen – See how his profile was maintained IF NOT raised – read the number of reports recently of late of HIS PUBLIC engagnements, his Hard truths translation versions, his Russian business engagement examples – MORE TO COME !!!
    6. T TAN was Schemed to return to politics via Presidential BACKDOOR – to ‘influence and to offer his experiences’ – lan chiow he is still around didnt go off, to manage GIC, Temasek losses, very crucial NOW 2nd recession coming PAP CANNOT CANNOT cope. Besides Hsien Loong CANNOT COPE bcos of FIXING opposition.

    SO this IS MY AMATEUR overall analysis OF PAP post GE 2011 politics !!!

    PAP IS starting to fight GE 2015/2016 NOW.. Dont be suprised IS GE 2015. Why ONE Fine Print example – tell tale sugn that after soooo long then first Parliament sitting. Its clear example that PAP do NOT want to have tooo many sessions which CAN be opposition FIRING practices leading to NEXT GE.

    2ndly, PAP knows the quality of re-battled Sylvia Lim, re-battled LTK, AND now SUper high flyer Deal Maker of the year Chen. Another tell tale sign HDB taking back and give to PA public spaces to disallow Chen or WP to BUILD up Grassroots support for GE 2015-6

  • popcorn

    Titiana, good shot.

    IPS = SPH = Elections Dept = PAP, all snakes and rats in the same nest.
    Just be skeptical on the story spinning.

  • Richard

    if, indeed, the Internet was a major influence, the PAP would have lost jialat jialat. I remember reading about one online survey that found 90% of respondents voted opposition. If only the Internet was truly influential.

  • Stevenkhorfather

    Ha! ha!

    To me, IPS is LKY

    LPpl ?

    We noT sTupiD laH !

  • Stevenkhorfather

    Jus like Prataman & now Fony Tan , all jus a ‘front” mouthpiece for their “god” or rather “dog”

  • IPS=SPH=PAP=Lame Ducks

    I am 99.9999% sure I will not vote PAP in the 2016 election. Why? Because they have grossly under-performed for many years and will continue to so in the years ahead. Everything they touched turned into stone. Singaporeans will become zombies and uneducated foreigners will reign. We just cant allow a bunch of dead wood to continue managing the country. Just ignore what IPS says.

    The ruling party will meet their Waterloo in the 2016 elections.

  • Robert Teh

    A leader’s duty is to serve and not to keep behaving in such a petty manner, trying to fix people.

    Instead of spending so much time trying to preempt and control people, with evil plans to benefit themselves, and stay in power the leader should try to foresee what is coming in the changing world and motivate and empower people to excel in all that they are capable of.

    We need truly moral and righteous leaders who are prepared to work to serve the people.

    This is the change we want to see. Has LKY produced such a leadership to claim first-world success?

  • William li

    Well, if it was not “internet elections”, yet the pap saw such a drastic drop in the number of votes, shouldn’t the pap be more worried, especially when the alternative parties learn to make better use of the internet to put their views across to the citizenry?

  • Alienated

    Whether one likes it or not, the reality is that the much-maligned/anathematized social media made a difference to the way the votes turned out.
    PAP, sadly, is in denial and a useless mainstream media is churning out truth-sounding lies as usual.

  • yeoman

    then why so afraid of the damage the NON-MSM social media can possibly do to them.the MIWs.

    the internet is growing at exponential rate and it will be almost impossible o abte its rising and importance to the lives of the majority by and by,princ eor pauper alike;acedemics or simple minds like me?

    let TOC and its likes flourish,why try to hinde their prominence at all?

    i thought only ‘MILLISTERS’ are ‘minstrels’,now it seems the others are becoming minstrels too….TCSS( TLAK COCK SING SONG).

  • Quanxi

    TRE was excluded in the survey ,therefore the conclusion is flawed n in fact TT was the much talk about politician in town ,not lky

  • Potex

    Too much time on hand. This sort of thing also have to conduct survey, study and analyse. And all these on taxpayers’ expenses. It there any economic benefit from such survey?? These people brain power can be employed to some other areas that benefit the country and people.

  • Citizen

    Yeah right,
    Singaporeans are such dumbasses and ingnoramuses–after the IDA’s drive to create a digital generation with future schools that explored cutting edge new media devices–only a mere few turned to the Internet to get inoformation on the recent elections. Kee Chiu, all those who believes these assinine findings?

    First IPS, your sample size is in error, did you only seek out all those fuddy duddy die-hard PAP supporters as your respondents? Or, did they only comprise of DIV 1 civil servants linving in Holland Road? Haven’t you heard about the silent majority, they may browse, search and surf too right? Secondly, what are all these so-called pundits want? The fact that there was a sizeable reduction in the PAP average vote and not a significant sea of change they were looking for, does it mean to them that the Internet is not important. It is becoming increasingly important especially in Singapore’s political discourse. The election fire that started the conversations has not died, it smoulders into many dialogues. Time will tell the truth…yes, if one were to take the local ST as the yardstick–only time can tell the truth to the citizens. For this to happen in this day and age–SAD!

  • arul

    This is week 1 I canceleld my ST-SPH subscription after yrs thinking abt it. Felt Good, though morning missed news. Then had free today on train-lastd few mins before trash bin. Chkd online curated news of TOC,Yahoo,World News -main playrs. Ok well informed and nites TV news for local. So ST was not worth it and getting used to it.
    Least have put where trash where it belongs as only ST-SPH/Party linked IPS will churn out defence of it’s credibility.
    Why don’t you try a new change and cancel your SPH-ST,other sunscriptions and try new channels? If it works, great & you have acted on your frustrations at their Pro Party bootlicking.Try IT

  • say what they like

    Its ok, let them think paper press still reign, its only good for us the internet users.
    They say what they want to hear.


  • intellectual corruption

    These panel members are only saying what they think pap want them to say.
    The reason for them to do so is to everyone’s easy guess.
    This is how the whole ‘system’ works in sickapore.

  • ahkong

    THe main reason is that the PAP has lost touch with the grassroot and becoming too arrogant and uncaring for the poor and marginalised. What kind of bullshitting article is this?

  • SPH Poor Business

    Oh come on.

    I just returned from a walk at 730pm and passed by stores with lots of unsold NP and ST.

    I trust the good news in SPH papers and I trust the bad news in the new media. Why???

    Simply because the SPH will try not cast any bad news that puts the govt in bad light.


    i am goin to ask the primeister 1 Q…
    what do he think of the intenet erections?
    do he fear the internet?
    if not why did he determined to gazette the TOC as a political organisation?
    ~case closed~

  • Ranjo Lee

    Although i do not like IPS , i do agree that the online media has not been as effective as it could have been because zingers are not that politically inclined nor 1st world thinking.

    Some are but many are asians, 3rd world asian minded. As asian as one can be.

    Self preservatory
    Kiasi of being seen as anti estab
    Self centered
    Ignorant of the meaning, function, purpose, definition of politics, govement, civil society, civic mindedness, activism, collective bargaining, idealism, individualism (vs monkey see-do)
    , Human Rights, responsibility as democratic citizen, effect of their vote…..

    Sg is so tiny yet after 50 years. OPPOSITION STILL CANNOT reach SO MANT PEOPLE.

    This is a form of FAILURE.
    opposition success recently is given by the minority of awakened ppl who have lost trust or confidence in pap.

    Pap should thank also the aging population which means more old are still voting.

  • Simon Peter

    These jokers are just a bunch of bootlickers……have to make their papmasters feel good about losing Aljunied GRC.

  • Puah Chiu Cheng

    Many Elderly sglians are pathetic because their mind is still stuck at lky-era of the golden age.

    How did they achieve such a feat?

    They don’t or never read any alternative media in their life. They are IGNORANT of these.

    Things not reported in msm they totally remain ignorant.

    Age does not mean wisdom in this day n age.

    The opposition and bloggers still have not achieved max IMPACT! that is achievable elsewhere.
    I suspect they are waiting for old man to totally hands-off.

    Xingxong gan dio hong

  • Robert Teh

    Government may have to put up an appearance that social media are unimportant and do not affect them in decision making and governing.

    The truth is it has no choice but to quietly come here to copy good ideas to go back to do the real things where their own talented MPs and civil servants paid in millions dare not voice for fear of losing their million-dollar jobs.

    For years under the one-party one-man autocratic rule how many of the MPs and civil servants ever pointed out to the ministers that all the anti-drug laws and anti-corruption laws were passed only for show – to get only the small flies.

    No actions or very little actions were taken to catch big-time offenders.

    Billions of citizens’ monies were lost in rogue trading and citizens only came to know of them only through the news in foreign newspapers like in the recent UBS rogue trades.

    The ignorant youths become fall guys many of whom were being tricked into carrying drugs believing the packages were gold bars or such-like objects. The drug syndicates and drug bosses have business deals with us and walk freely in our streets (read escapefromparadise website)

    If a government is truly effective and world-class it should be aiming at eliminating the root cause of problems – syndicates and drug lords some of whom were even closely connected to governments.

    Though the government may insist that social media are nothing and it is not too concenred with its credibility, and refuse to admit or acknowledge, the views and feedback of netizens at TOC etc, one thing is certain they have copied ideas of netizens as posted here on the topic of Yong Vui Kong’s appeal for clemency.

    In various posts, netizens have criticized government for failing to target the drug laws at eliminating the root cause not fall guys who might be people like Yong Vui King or some others as posted.

    At least because of netizens’ parts the AG Chambers now appear to realize injustices in our high-handed presumptuous drug laws (read Straits Times report on deferred prosecution of offenders) and would now allow holding back of prosecution by way of deferred prosecution subject to conditons to be fulfilled where there are evidences from among caught offenders of syndicates at work.

    This kind of injustices appear to have gone unnoticed under the existing one-man and one-party rule. The whole parliament cost citizens huge sum of taxpayers’ monies to maintain. Yet none of the MPs appear to be willing to go against the draconian laws of such nature like Misuse of Drug Act and ISA resulting in gross injustices against the citizens.

    In the same way, injustices were being caused to many innocent people under the ISA another strong autocratic law of one-man one-party rule.

    AG Chambers not only must crack down on true big cases of corruptions and economic negligence and losses by billions in investments of people’s monies overseas, it should have awakened to the possibilities of innocent offenders being victimized as fall guys by cunning drug syndicates and use the deferred prosecution agreement to hold back and try to catch drug lords or their syndicates instead of all these youthful or even stupid kids like Yong Vui Kong.

    So, don’t fool and people and try to use IPS or all the panels of experts and professionals to talk rubbish like social media has no real impact or we are corruption-free (legal corruption is also corruption) or to avoid real problems.

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  • Simson Jetstar

    Because the population was nurtured to regard politics as taboo, while the small city has modernised (not difficult) , many minds are still 3rd world. Some even suah ku.

    Don’t be fooled by the way we dress. Many are mentally 3rd world.

    They ate not only pathetic, laughable but more importantly their votes are sabotaging.

  • doppelganger

    The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) is lying through their teeth in the hopes that the public avoid the Internet and go on reading the Straits Times and only the Straits Times. It is well known that the Arab uprisings in Egypt, libya, Tunisia, Syria etc were fueled by the freeing of communications throughout Arab society by adept use of social media especially Facebook. In fact one of the leaders in the Egyptian uprising worked at a top level in Google and used the tools of his trade to initiate the Arab Spring. The astonishing pervasiveness of the Internet is something which no one envisaged , much less the brutal leaders of the Middle East and our leaders in Singapore. The General Elections in 2011 was the first in Singapore carried out in the Internet Age.It is the first time when so many opposition members got elected. The Internet will certainly grow in influence and reach. Another five years, the teenagers today will come of age into the Internet Age and will vote in the Internet environment. The Straits Times will become less and less relevant in the life of the young Internet citizenry. It is inexorable that people and the arrow of Time will accelerate towards the free flow of information as found in the Internet. They can lock up the Straits Times and other media which they control.

    Don’t be fooled by the IPS pronouncements that the Internet played no part in the 2011 elections. The next election will see our population in a more robust Internet Age and I am hopeful that our young citizens will vote Singapore out of this overwhelming oppression.

    Fact is, I am able to write all this because of the Internet, when I could do nothing the previously.

  • Tracy Tan

    @Robert Teh,

    Well analysed and well written! Thanks. The PAP knows it cant ignore the internet. The PAP is trying to put up a false and brave front.

    But the pap is struggling to counter the effects of the internet. The pap ignores the internet at its own peril.

    Let’s show the pap the full effect in GE 2016

  • Robert Teh

    @Tracy Tan

    All have witnessed a system run presumably by scholars, people of high position, and authority, high academic talent etc. does not help us to bring about a fairer and more just society.

    Now foreign talents are being over-blown to further the objective of one-party rule.

    Can these people truly be counted upon to run a country based on justice and equity for all not to mention the overcrowding, and rising costs of housing caused by them which are completely ignored by the ruler.

    Sad to say the only national treasure, the netizens are now badly treated and being run down as grousers and trouble makers with the hand-in-glove conspiracy of highly educated scholars and experts from IPS and all the institutions.

    Netizens look like the last line of defence at this stage of our nation building against serious threats like legalized corruptions, cronyism disguised as meritocracy, and all sorts of self-interests and hypocrisy successfully purveyed over past 46 years with the help of an acclaimed self-praising autocratic rule disguised as democratic Westminister democracy.


    Really, there are opportunities to prove that the loss was simply due to poor stategy by the PAP Leadership. Whether the Internet was involved is immaterial.
    What PAP should be doing is to put right what went seriously wrong and remove the weak strategists by completely revamping their leadership and accept the fact that there are no longer unbeaten champions in their Camp as it used to be.

  • blacktryst

    I see no reason to fault the IPS in publishing these findings. Let’s say they did their homework well and did a random sampling. You will find that because the Singapore populace has an ageing population, therefore there are less percentage of younger and internet savvy voters than the seniors who uses traditional media. Another point is that even those who uses internet to find information is also just as likely to use traditional media to find out information OR attend the rallies to find out information about the candidates. Third point, the internet savvy voters who uses the internet media/social media sites to gather information will be the one who shares the information via word of mouth to his/her parents, relatives and friends. So those paretns, relatives and friends probably uses traditional media to gain their information but get their influence on who to vote maybe from the internet savvy relative/friend.

    So what the survey team from IPS probably fails to address is what percentage of people are influenced from friends or relatives that do use social media/internet to get information and secondly, many internet savvy voters do not actually use the internet/socialmedia sites to gatehr information but use it to discuss the candidates and the platforms. Do the survey get the information about how many respodents use the internet to discuss the Generalt Elections?

    In short, the IPS team probably did get the correct findings BUT they did not ask some pertinent questions as well therefore their research is incomplete.

  • Tencent

    Does ips ever politrically incorrect?

  • popcorn

    Aiyoh, everyone dun worry about SPH, this mouthpiece is as good as the PAP in power. Once PAP is booted out, the next Govt will close down this Media Company and open up to new entries.
    Also, pay less attention to the wayangs put out by the PAP SEC. The main threat to PM Lee’s position is not the Opposition, it is from within the PAP itself. So he has to consolidate his power by retiring the old guards, and bring in his own yes men and women to support him. This is what we should worry about.

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  • doppelganger

    It is well known that the Arab uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria etc are fueled by the freeing of communications throughout Arab society by adept use of social media especially Facebook. In fact one of the leaders in the Egyptian uprising worked at a top level in Google and used the tools of his trade to initiate the Arab Spring. The astonishing pervasiveness of the World Wide Web which is powered by the Internet is something which no one envisaged, much less the brutal leaders of the Middle East and our leaders in Singapore. The General Elections in 2011 was the first in Singapore carried out in the Internet Age.It is also the first time in decades when so many opposition members got elected into Parliament. Another five years, the teenagers today will come of age into the Internet Age and will vote in an Internet World. It is inexorable that people riding on the arrow of Time will accelerate towards the free flow of information as found in the Internet. The old media has been hijacked by the elites for narratives of their own making.
    Studies of the impact of the Internet and new media are for academics who have to earn their keep by keeping their paymasters happy. It is no coincidence that the Arab Spring flourishes in this Age of the Internet and world wide web. Every honest person who is not out to fool the public will say that the Internet is the Change Agent of the 21st Century. Through the WWW the Arab Nations are freeing themselves from tyranny one by one.It seems contrived to say that the WWW will not similarly affect the populations of South East Asia including Singapore.

    The eggheads are lying so as to help their Master.

  • Citizen

    You hit the nail on the head. The PAP’s enemy is the PAP itself. The 35 percent votes cast for Tony Tan is more or less the estimated accurate support for the party and its conservative stalwards. The rest of Singapore is slowly waking up to evaluate and question the status quo and its operations. They can’t depend on aging die-hard supporters anymore. They need to engage the ‘great middle’ where people want a fair and meritocratic rule that considers all citizens’ needs.
    Consolidating the PAP’s CEC with ‘yes’ men and women may not garner the expected support if these chosen ones are not seen as worthy of public office.
    The sad thing about Singapore is this–there is no independent msm media that is willing to take an unbiased stand to measure and evaluate PAP’s unilateral policies that has crammed the city and has created many problems for citizens. Do we need a success of this sort to call it a victory?

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  • doppelganger

    Of course it is difficult to measure the impact of new media on the GE2011. If you can’t measure your blood pressure due to faulty equipment, it does not mean that you have no blood flow. The world wide web riding on the Internet is the most important tool invented for Human communication in the modern era. It permeates every department of life today. Of course our academics can’t measure it because they have no interest to disappoint their political masters by producing an opposite answer. The world wide web carrying,yahoo, google, facebook, twitter and Online Citizen brings the news and your friends intimately to your own hearth. It cannot be easily censored unlike the Straits Times, Radio Singapore and TV Singapore. It is unstoppable. It is one thing which the PAP would kill to get rid off. But for all our ills, we have yet to practize genocide or assassination in this country. We have not imitated the Russians ( who routinely poison their political foes) in all particulars although they taught our armed forces weaponry and how to wage war in the sixties.

    The academics moan that, ” the impact of the Internet may well be intangible and difficult to measure.”

    Many things are intangible: copyrights, patents, goodwill, brand names, knowhow,blueprints etc but these intangibles are the most valuable part of the business value of any enterprise. The brick and mortar, plant & machinery can be relocated and even swept away by a Tsunami, but the business can continue if the blueprints and other intangibles are intact. I wonder whether these academics bemoaning intangibility and unmeasurability are not up to the mark, or just using words inaccurately or they are out to confuse the citizenry. They hope against hope that we all give up our computers and sit back in our armchairs with the Straits Times instead. Just like the days of old.

  • Heartlander

    Very interesting article and discussion. Some of the points raised like basis forn conclusions, and influence of internet on MSM is real at least from casual observations.
    If that is not the case or if the net serves no purpose or influences, why then the statements from ministers on ability to trace or need to even warn since it does not influence. It is precisely the intangibles which the study attempted to convey and disclaiming the assumptions and observations which are made public.
    Arguments aside while trying to control dubious contents on the net, it would be foolhardy for the Elites to ignore the net as yes though unappreciative at times, it offers what none of it’s grass roots will ever say in the face of their MPs, which is that some of the policies like housing and health care as well as immigration and ebducation does not help Singaporeans at all beyond very general statements and the perhaps well meaning intention behind.
    There were many postulations on the possible reasons for the GE and EP asvthe results were widely different. That is perhaps what many like myself was hoping to see why the difference and if the net played an influence and factors which were responsible.
    The net is important and has an influence but the question that has not been addressed is the reason why despite the internet age and digital city status the status of the net versus MSM.
    Is it’s influence significant. Why did all the political parties decide and especially the Elites decide to enage netizens.
    Well your guess is as good as mine. But like many we are as curious as ever and the report does not quite help.

  • doppelganger

    It is clear as daylight that the Internet has influenced GE2011. This election saw the opposition voted into Parliament in record numbers.

    Even if the exact effect of the Internet on GE2011 in terms of percentages cannot be determined, it is clear that the Internet is an environment of the new deal between the citizenry and the PAP. Singapore had alternative print media in various languages in the past but these were strangled by the PAP, their executives punished and banished from the scene. The print and broadcast media that remains after the purge are owned by the State and the Ruling Party makes every effort to curb the free flow of information whenever that information is not favorable to it. Now the Ruling Party is ambushed by the Internet and it is furiously calling on its think-tanks and eggheads to spread the notion that the new media has no part to play in the dissemination of information and therefore has no effect on the hold of the State owned media over the populace. Therefore these think tanks hope that everybody should avoid the Internet, so that the Straits Times and state broadcast media remain as the sole source of news for the citizenry.

    Meanwhile the modern age is powered by the Internet. One of the salient political outcome of the Internet Age is the Arab Spring. The ‘intangible’ world wide web riding on waves of the electromagnetic spectrum has taken the rulers of the Middle East by surprise and may also be the doom of the PAP. So it scurries to its agents in academia who has to make ridiculous studies to make its claims against the efficacy of the Internet.

  • eaglefly

    and they are using your old addresses in the net to contact you and let you know, “we know you”

    trying very hard to frighten you, are you not afraid or afraid ?????

    the isd is working full time to get all you in the net posting msgs, beware, unless you have million dollar bungalow or million $ business, beware…..

    otherwise, you can post this msg to isd,


  • Purple Haze

    This is a whole load of rubbish from a group which is in the embrace of the LKY School of Public Policy. Its curry is always flavoured with ingredients suited to the stomachs of LKY and his PAP cronies!

    There is something pitiful about Singapore’s history since independence in 1965. Whatever credentials they profess to hold, public entities that are supposed to inform truthfully dare not speak up for fear of offending the Establishment!

    The irony about the IPS is its latest director, Devan Janadas. You will recall that when his late father, our ex-President Mr Devan Nair, fell out of LKY’s grace, their whole family absconded to the US. Then, began, the awakening of Mr Nair that enraged his one-time buddy LKY and a ‘boxing match’ ensued between them.

    Interestingly, this ‘filial’ son returned to his ‘prodigal’ Singapore after his father’s demise and gladly joined our state-controlled 140th ST, became its associate editor before chairing the IPS. You will remember that Mr Nair wanted to write a book to “tell all” which would have been very damaging especially to LKY. That that book never was published and Mr Janadas sitting in 2 ‘manacled’ organisations has a strange twist yet to be unravelled!

    In the recent GE, there was a 6.5% reduction in the PAP ‘popular’ votes since the last count in 2006 which resulted in the loss of a GRC with 3 ministers. The GRC was established to stall and eradicate inroads into Singapore’s political shape by the opposition after 1984. Of course, it would be a taboo subject for ‘shackled’ groups like the IPS to discuss.

    Let’s face it support for the PAP is not through love. Just pin a badge onto your shirt lapel before going out to ask questions of the public and you’ll get answers from minds that are subjugated by fear, ego or apathy. So, you can scoff at the findings based on 2,000 respondents! It will just take a click of the finger, nay the mouse, to turn ‘popular’ into ‘anti’.

    We are all cogs in the Wheel of Providence, not in the wheel of the fallible PAP. The ‘Arab Spring’ was possible through internet. When the ‘educated fools’ keep trying to obscure the truth, internet would spark a ‘Singapore Spring’. Another conservative 10% reduction in PAP votes next time around is in the offing. What is meant to be will come to pass!

  • Tilogo

    Its all about 人性.

    We need to first understand the Nurturing that started 50 years ago.

    We r a product of our environment, system.

    We have never truely experienced full western democracy.

    The grassroots grasped the minds of people.
    The leaders grew to be bigger leaders feeding back the mentality of the folks.

    Small city n population. Fully grasped.

    Kiasu kiasi ‘ism evolved .

    Msm fully effective with full trust and support.

    Lisa demolished without trail all obstackles.

    Mem ahead of the times shunned by monkey see-do.

    Self interest + meritsocrazy = self preservation + greed more greed.

    Kampong spirit died with concrete jungle spirit.

    Neighbors become strangers.

    Divided. Konquested.

    Loose sands cannot stand.

    Enbloc, hdb, 4d toto casino.

    No one owes u a living but u owe them financial wealth.

    Chief hum appointed by chief bum.

    All in 1 big happy famili.

    Absolute crone ism.

    All knighted for the family.

    I scratch your that area and you scratch mine.

    More and more Hums started falling thru the cracked net. External hums competing local hum space to breathe.

    A bird born n reared by a hum never seen another bird only knows it is a hum.

    The hard truth revealed.

  • Prostitute of Possissies

    Internet effect has not even achieved impact yet a GRC has been LOST. this is a singapore record, should never be forgotten and written in history books for generations to come.

  • masterservant


    Just ignore what IPS says.

    The ruling party will meet their Waterloo in the 2016 elections.


    Their waterloo, should be 2011 !

    But sinkapooreas are too DAFT and a BUNCH of COWARDS, SELFISH AND USELESS.

    Looking at above, foreigners are better, even the SLAVES, CHEATS, PIMPS, SLAVE TRADERS, PROSTITUTES, way better.

  • doppelganger

    @Purplehaze, you know a great deal. I salute you for revealing them. Yes a Spring of sorts will emerge from this country, only hope it does not take too long.

  • Chesara

    to masterservant,

    If you believe in democracy and majority rule, your commments on Singaporeans voting patterns are anti-democratic. Just because majority of Singaporeans did not follow your thoughts and voting style does not make them DAFT or whatsoever. In fact your choice of words sounds like Kim II Sung or those dictators with 3rd world mentality or maybe you believe in your own form of democracy ie ‘vote like me or else you are stupid’. Respect the majority votes and if one day they vote for the hammer or whatever other parties, it is their choice. This is democracy and calling Singapore as Sinkapore, I think you should differentiate between the party and the state. You cursing Singapore to sink is despicable. Maybe you are not Singaporean, maybe someone from other nearby country posing to divide and conquer us?
    Btw I am not a supporter of the MIW.

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