Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Game On

This article was first published in Singapore Angle: Perspectives

When I read the ST report that PAP was "mounting a counter-insurgency against its online critics" anonymously, my first thought was – why? Why do it? Why the need to be anonymous? And why announce it (I seriously doubt the news was "leaked")?

Why the need for such action? The PAP has long enjoyed monopoly over media channels and the Internet is probably an itch it just couldn't scratch. Its recent efforts to "manage" this medium have thus far been somewhat a failure. A casual browse through current Internet discussions would show that the PAP is not exactly the most popular kid in town. The party has already targeted the winning over of young Singaporeans as its main priority over the next 5 years. So it cannot ignore the Internet, the current playground for the young.

But why do it anonymously? Weren't PAP the ones who insisted that those who hide behind a pseudonym are not credible and thus to be dismissed? I suspect their hands are tied on this. Frankly, PAP party members are flame baits online. It doesn't matter what they say, they will either be ignored (see P65) or be eventually beaten down by the boo boys (Sammyboy players will attest to that). PAP must have realised this by now. Something must be done, and the only way to do it effectively is to hide behind a pseudonym.

Which leads us to the last question – why jeopardize your success by announcing to the world your plan? To find out why, it would be useful to know the main objective of the initiative. Lets not kid ourselves, this isn't a Government action, it's a Party action (read the first few words of the report again) and so the beneficiary of this action is the PAP. And the main priority of a political party is Survival. Announcing the plan allows PAP to not stray too far from this objective whatever the outcome. There are only 2 possible unique outcomes to any initiative – a success or a failure. A successful "counter-insurgency" initiative will reap the obvious reward – positive political equity. What about a failure? Like a general that poisons a river beforehand in case it is lost to the enemy, PAP has cast the seeds of doubt and mistrust by tarnishing everyone writing under a pseudonym. This has the potential to stunt the growth of a vibrant alternative media online, in case the PAP has to retreat in failure and resort back to denouncing the
Internet as not credible.

The die is cast. How shall we play it?

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