Sometime between noon and 1615 hrs, the Workers’ Party left a flier on my doorstep. It’s noticeably thinner than the PAP’s. Unlike the PAP’s flier, though, this one is full of text.
Not that it means much.
The flier has a message from Low Thia Khiang, Secretary-General of the Workers’ Party, and introduces Lee Li Lian. The former articulates Low’s vision of a ‘First World Parliament’, and why voters should choose the Workers’ Party in such a context. A ‘First World Parliament’ is a Parliament with ‘a strong check and balance mechanism to balance the executive’, enabled by ‘a credible and responsible opposition elected by the people to represent them in Parliament and to protect their rights’.
The first half of Low’s message is that a Parliament with effective opposition credibility would ensure government accountability, represent the people’s voice, and insure against any failures by the PAP. The second half says that the WP is the best choice because the WP ‘has historical depth’, ‘has the longest presence’ in Parliament, is credible, and has experience ‘managing a Town’ (meaning, Hougang).
I am not convinced that this flier will win very many votes for the Workers’ Party. The First World Parliament brand can be an effective communication tool. However, the message is presented in terms of rights, checks and balances, and democracy. This is just a small facet of what people are worried about. There’s nothing in this flier that suggests that the WP is able to address the concerns most people have. I wish the WP had tied in key elements of its manifesto into the flier, combining it with the term ‘First World Parliament’, indicating that it actually has a workable vision. While the WP did include a link to its YouTube account, it doesn’t mean much for people without an Internet access or a computer.
Also, there is very little political information on Lee. Much of her write-up is dedicated to her background, leaving just a paragraph for ‘philosophy’. It seems that she is very interested in representing women, and encouraging women to contribute to society. Unfortunately, by the flier alone, I don’t know how she is going to do that. I also don’t know what she will do for the people of Punggol East.
I sense the WP wants greater accountability and representation in Parliament. The flier, however, doesn’t address any of the more mundane problems people face (mentioned in the post below). Low’s message could potentially backfire for some people: some people don’t care about more opposition members in Parliament because they’re too busy worrying how to pay their bills.
In a sense, the WP’s flier is the polar opposite of the PAP’s flier. The PAP flier presents all the short-term material things Palmer can provide to Punggol East if elected. The WP flier articulates the more abstract long-term benefits a First World Parliament brings to the people of Singapore.
What I would like to see is a marriage of both concepts. An election message that describes what a candidate can bring to a ward, and what the party can bring to the nation. A campaign that simultaneously addresses bread and butter issues and civil and political rights. A candidate who can represent the needs of her constituency, and the needs of her country.
I guess I’ll have to wait.