By Muhammad Al Hakim
In today’s world of the internet and Social media, Political Parties have to engage the electorate and the public through such mediums like Facebook, Twitter etc. Even The Thai military Junta aka National Peace and Order maintaining Council has their own Facebook page. In Singapore, Many political parties have at least maintained a presence or in colloquial terms “chope” their names in the form of websites, Facebook-page etc.
Thus, the trolling incident whereby the so-called “Singaporeans First” party Facebook page started posted rather ridiculous statements claiming to be from the manifesto, just serves to highlight the importance of the Social media and the world wide web for political parties. While its too early to say whether their party brand is any way damaged by this incident, I can only say that it raises questions on whether prepared are they as a party to secure their brand name or whether they viewed it only secondary to registering their names to the register of societies.
This incident also gives out a dire warning to all parties, that their image and voice must be secured above everything else, great policies or good grass-root support means nothing if others could hijack your image and misuse it to their end. We are a small nation with high internet connectivity, which will only make this incident bigger and louder, and to that end I hope the Singaporeans First party, which finally established their own Facebook page, gets their message and voice out and learn from this incident
Another lesson is the rather infamous Young Pap (YP) viral (in the wrong sense) video produced by their own party members. To no surprise of almost everybody but their own members, the video got criticised and panned in social media and by everybody who is non-pap member. Their video which they left “raw and unpolished” goes off as rather monotonic and robotic, which serves no help to the image of the ruling party. Of course in hindsight, many in the video would have a nervous and/or faced a video camera for the first time. But a larger question remains, How did no member, or anyone raise the question of public perception before releasing it? Just because a lot of members of your party viewed it and liked it need not mean the public would too. This is the stuff all political parties fall into, falling to gauge public opinion and assuming the approval by their members would be enough.
It goes to show that any party must also ensure their message/image are clear and vetted before releasing it to the public. they should take note from the industry, where products are tested, where members of the public are engaged, and huge effort and hours are made to prepare a product launch, just to get the right message and to get the maximum impact. It is the same for parties, only that not doing so might just cost you votes and risking your whole campaign.