By Cassandra Chia
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen had announced Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng’s (LG Ng) retirement from the Singapore Armed Forces.
The latter will be stepping down as Chief of Defence Force on 18 August, a move that prompted speculation that the 47-year-old might be running in the upcoming General Election.
Dr Ng commented that “Inevitably, there will be questions asked about LG Ng’s future plans, particularly, if he is entering politics. Given his tested leadership and proven capabilities, I would not at all be surprised, if indeed he is.”
“But I have advised LG Ng, not to be distracted or entertain these queries but to instead focus on important national events ahead, particularly the National Day Parade. There will be a more appropriate time to address interests in his future plans.”
Dr Ng has indirectly hinted LG Ng capability to be a potential candidate for the upcoming General Election, and also mentioned that interest in LG Ng’s future plans will most likely be “addressed” in the near future after the important national events.
One thing I find ironic though is the fact that even though our Defence Minister had advised LG Ng “to not be distracted or entertained these queries but..focus on important national events ahead”, the announcement of LG Ng stepping down, in addition to Dr Ng’s very much publicised comments, grabbed local news headlines on 31 July and 1 August – be it through online, print or televised platform. (The Straits Times, TODAYOnline, AsiaOne).
By placing all the mainstream media glare on LG Ng stepping down, isn’t the government ironically garnering attention and opening more probes to his possible foray into politics?
The cameras were also angled to include LG Ng in the frame at opportunities that arose during the televised National Day Parade, though I cannot deny the fact his presence was required during those time.
This left me thinking, why even mention his possible entry into the political scene? Or create so much buzz – put him in the top headlines, show his face repeatedly on TV when Dr Ng mention that he does not want LG Ng to be distracted by queries on his future plans? Since his retirement was on 18 August, the announcement could have also been made easily after the National Day.
Placing him in the media limelight on the first day of the month which usually signifies a fresh beginning, linking him to the National Day Parade which is a happy event, hinting public interest in him, and briefly mentioning his leadership skills, etc. – Was this all a smart strategic move in advertising to sensationalize and evoke a sense of mystery around LG Ng?
This suggests the usage of “Classical Conditioning” to associate a positive connotation to LG Ng, so that Singaporeans can put into memory his face and name through the many headlines and his National Day Parade involvement, and to leave an atmosphere of suspense to ponder what lies ahead for him.
Is all these mainstream media publicity meant to hype up his possible presence and entrance into the general election?
We shall just play along with the game of “let’s wait and see.” We’ll welcome more new candidates with green… oops, open arms, I mean!