An open forum asking the Prime Minister questions had turned out to be an entertainment show instead. Claiming to be broadcast “Live”, the state-controlled media Channel News Asia hosted the forum asking the unpopular PAP leader vetted questions. No mention of controversial topics like the influx of foreigners, rising income gap and the lack of retirement. CNA have selected and crafted a series of questions to ensure that the Prime Minister will not have difficulties answering.
The show failed to convince that the PAP is really all caring and competent in solving the country’s problems. Audacious claims like
“There is more assurance now that you can afford an HDB flat”
“We look at the statistics every month and we can see that the crowded services got fewer”
is a lousy attempt to make it sound like the problems of public housing and impact of overcrowding have gone away. Why did Lee Hsien Loong even come out with a wayang show like this?
As it turned out from the relentless use of propaganda in the name of “Conversations” and staged forums like this, the PAP’s solution is perception management. Problems are re-defined as negative opinion of the populace. The PAP believe there are no problems so long Singaporeans do not think so. Skewed polls like those from the Land Transport Authority claiming more than 90% of the surveyed will voluntarily take actions to ease overcrowding [Source] are propaganda effort to push the blame of overcrowding to commuters. Similarly for the problem of waning support for National Service, government-appointed committees like the “Committee to strengthen National Service” [Source] were created discussing the disadvantages of NS at length without implementing even a single constructive solution since its existence in March this year. Likewise for influx of foreigners and rising cost of living, the PAP leaders talk and talk, no solution is in sight and the problems continue to fester.
Fortunately, more Singaporeans have started to grow a mind of their own and rejected the PAP’s propaganda. Readership for online news sites like The Real Singapore have reached a new high as compared to its predecessor Temasek Review. Many discussions and grounds-up initiatives like the Population Protest started from Facebook activists. Since 2005, Singapore’s PAP-controlled newspapers have been seeing falling circulation [Source] and readership – a sign that the credibility of the mainstream media is falling.
Unlike in the past, the internet was not available to the masses. Today, traditional propaganda broadcast like “Ask PM Lee” are taken with a large pinch of salt. The PAP have noticed this change and started hiring commentators who hide behind pseudonyms to defend PAP policies and attack PAP critics [Source]. From digging up personal information to literal mudslinging, the PAP Internet Brigade attempt to discredit PAP critics and the Opposition. One such online-bullying attempt is the facebook page “Fabrications About the PAP” [Source] who often defame and insult anti-PAP writers.
All these are done in the name of power. The PAP wants to remain in power for as long as they could, at any expense. Coaxing the populace without constructive solutions do not work anymore, so is threatening their critics with defamation lawsuits and jail term. A PAP’s fall is imminent and only offset slowly by the influx of new citizens who are fast becoming their support base in exchange for not having to serve National Service.