It is a strange feeling to be confronted about something you were supposed to have said when:-
1. You did not say it; and
2. It is the complete opposite of your actual message.
This was the exact experience I had recently, shortly after speaking at a forum organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (“IPS”). Overall, I found the forum very interesting, and learned a great deal, from the IPS Survey, the various speakers and audience members.
I understand that shortly after the conference, various online publications attributed the following quote to me:
“Don’t focus too much on the 40 per cent that didn’t vote for you. We have to remember and keep in mind the interests of the 60 per cent that did.”
This quote was inaccurate. I have not yet identified where exactly this quote originated from, but I understand it was further disseminated by viral methods, such as facebook links, notes and emails. The impression to readers of this quote was that I felt there was no need for the PAP to change and I was somehow going to ignore everyone who did not vote for the PAP. Naturally, this upset many readers. Indeed, I would be upset if I heard that from my MP too.
In fact, the thrust of my entire speech was the complete opposite, and I discussed the different ways in which the PAP was renewing itself, in terms of its people, approach and its policies. I felt there were some things the PAP got right and we needed to retain, but my fundamental message was that I felt change was taking place all round in the party. This can be seen from my note shortly after the conference, outlining my views on the topic of party renewal: https://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=216640668373224.
What I actually said, after a speech where I discussed the various ways in which the PAP was changing, was the following:
“I remember when we were going through the early stages and we were telling people, yes we are going to change this and going to change that, one of the things one of my friends reminded me was, you can change, but don’t change for the 40% and ignore the 60% that voted for you. So I guess that is the balance we will keep in mind in the renewal process.
I hope all of you will join me in that journey!”
That remains my message, and I am happy to hear ideas from anyone at all!
From Vikram Nair’s Facebook Notes