Election Watch Part VIII – The Digital Warfare in Electoral Battle

The following is an excerpt of  article posted on March 9, 2011 on the blog De Leviathan.

The following article is contributed to the Singapore General Election Portal (SGEP). The articles refered to herein can be found in the SGEP.

The Digital Warfare in Electoral Battle

The Editorial , “The Electoral Battle Is Shaping Up” [Editorials (In Focus) – Archives]; highlighted an article in The Star Online, “PAP enters the digital warfare” [5 Mar 2011 – Malaysia Media].

While both the Incumbent and Opposition parties are adopting the new media to varying extent in their electoral battle, how is the external environment influencing this media to shape the electoral battle ground? To what extent will the final outcome be influenced by “digital warfare”?

The Singapore Social Media Training Blog [Government & Social Media; 7 Mar 2011] said:
“For the past few years, The Singapore Government has been trying to get on social media. However, they do not welcome feedback and censor comments”….. “if any nation, company or individuals is interested in Social Media, they need to be prepared to engage — accept both positive and negative feedback, and willingly resolve the issues transparently”….. “With the coming elections, there are more ministers with blogs and Facebook pages, but the engagement is heavily moderated, and the types of posts do not seem genuine and engaging as well.”

It also quoted a deputy director of LTA to have said in a different context:
“The Singapore government, as a whole, is not averse to using new media. We’re not ruling out the opportunities it presents us. But we’re not completely sure how to use it yet.”

If this is so, will the new media be restricted only to the few MPs and Ministers who are familiar but are still afraid to engage or have heavily moderated their postings? The adverse publicity of the YPAP in some past events could be a deterrent.

If we judge the Blogosphere, it looks certain the PAP will continue to use the mainstream media (MSM) to anchor its campaign and leave the MSM to decide whether to adopt the new media. Hence, the outcome will be left more to conventional campaigning and rally.
Too much reliance on the MSM would tilt the playing ground if they were managed by the incumbent PAP Govt. The new media is now looked upon as the better tool and place for “freedom of expression”, as demonstrated by Netizens craving to flood the Blogosphere with a never-ending stream of opinions.

Although the new media is freer for expressing opinions, it becomes pertinent to interpret “opinions” to see the logics within.

The TODAY newspaper published a commentary captioned “Deep fissures behind Opposition bravado” [7 Mar 2011- Local Media] by Mr. Eugene Tan, an SMU Assistant Professor of Law. Let’s take a closer look at the choice of words.

While first part of the article provides a good analytical review of the Electorate in general, the second part of the critical review with a sub-title “STALEMATE AND DISARRAY” together the main caption “Deep fissures behind Opposition bravado” would have casted doubts, or even aspersions; to put the Opposition in deeper waters. Why is it so?

Firstly, “deep fissures” would suggest “irreparable damage” within the Opposition parties. An intelligent Electorate must look deeper, wider and even beyond what an analyst has to say. Are the signals really “deep fissures” or are they just “superficial hairline cracks”? His commentary was written after the second pow-wow last Saturday (5 Mar 2011) evening [Opposition Inter-Party Conference 2; 3 Mar 2011 – Events]

As pointed out in the last posting of In Focus, the interesting thing is whether a sequel will develop further to the initial infighting. But just look at the relative ease the SDA had given up a 3-cornered fight at Potong Pasir out of “goodwill basis” and“doing it for the purpose of opposition unity and also to give due respect to Chiam See Tong.”

The “disarray” might look irreconcilable to an analyst, but its final resolution was so “organic” and this is probably the way how our Opposition Parties work. [SPP to fight PAP ‘one-to-one’ in Potong Pasir SMC; 7 Mar 2011 – Local Media] ”]To read on, click here.


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