Singaporean Matters: When smart people say and do dumb things
I have been following, with great interest, the debate on housing affordability. Not so much about NCMP Leong Mun Wai’s proposal to exclude land costs in the pricing Housing Board flats, but the response from political commentators and activists.
From the lens of a communications professional, the WHITES just don’t get it. They have failed to understand the political landscape they are operating in:
- Politicians win or lose elections based on recognizability. Hence all publicity is good and people like Leong Mun Wai and the Marjorie Taylor Greene’s of the world do all they can to be in the news.
- In Singapore, elections turn on the middle 40%. This is because 30% of the electorate either love or hate you. For the former, you can do no wrong and for the latter you can do no right. As the 30% extremes vote along “party lines”, there is no need or point in targeting them.
- The middle 40% vote based on logic. According to political scientists, the middle-ground is rational and vote for their own best interest weighing past and possible future performance. What people forget is that rational people consider the future and they believe in the importance of intangibles like respect, compassion, and fairness.
In the case of Leong Mun Wai, I would argue that he is not the fool the WHITEs think him to be. He is playing to the gallery and the WHITEs are helping him:
- No matter how devoid of merit the WHITEs consider Leong Mun Wai’s proposal, he is not speaking to them. He is speaking to his supporters. He was elected (nearly elected) on the premise that he will speak for the anti-WHITE and he is doing just that.
- Counter-productively, the more the WHITEs attack Leong Mun Wai, the greater his name recognition will be. The majority of Singaporeans are politically apathetic and without this furore, very few will know who Leong Mun Wai is.
- Singling Leong Mun Wai out for attack only plays into the opposition’s narrative of being the underdog. The middle-ground’s believe in the need for fairness will view this onslaught as the system out to protect itself at all cost and it will generate sympathy for him and his cause.
In short, if you think Leong Mun Wai is a fool and you are attacking him, I would argue that you are the greater fool as you are being manipulated by him to help him win in the next General Election.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine and they do not represent the views of my employer or any organization I am associated with. While I have used a political example, this post is about the need for communicators to understand the environment they are operating in when responding to negative mentions.