There is good PR, there is bad PR, and then there is very bad PR

We’re almost at Polling Day. Throughout the period of rallies, politicians have said many things — some smart things, some stupid things.

In this list, we’ve got a good mix of parties and candidates from both opposition and ruling parties. But while they may disagree on policies, CPF, and population numbers, these politicians do share one thing in common — their penchant for negative publicity.

Their comments managed to turn public sentiment against them, drawing vitriol and flak.

Here are the biggest fails of GE2015.

1. “Being a mother is a weakness.” (See our article here.)

Guilty: National Solidarity Party (NSP)’s Cheo Chai Chen

Mr Cheo made some careless comments of his opponent, People’s Action Party (PAP) incumbent Tin Pei Ling:

In general, mothers love their children, so they spend a lot of time with them. If voters choose her, she might focus more on her child than on her voters.

This is her weakness.

In doing so, he managed to draw negative publicity from all in Singapore who supported the values of family and what it stood for.

The entire concept of being a working mother is a sensitive issue. Working mothers are rejected more often than single women from jobs and promotions — while no one wants to admit it, we know it’s true. What most people found even more remarkable about Tin Pei Ling was how quickly she could bounce back and get on the campaign trail after giving birth.

Tin Pei Ling issued a reply a few days later that probably got her more positive publicity than any of the PAP’s rallies across the island.

The Workers’ Party (WP)’s Bernard Chen, who is contesting with them in a three-way match, must be absolutely furious that the NSP candidate, who entered at the last minute, has now won Tin Pei Ling waves of online support.

And what did Cheo say of the negative attention?

It was a joke. I did not mean it to be taken seriously.

We’ll let that speak for itself.

2. Tamil Translations (see our full article here)

Guilty: SingFirst and NSP

The Tamil language is not the easiest to pick up.

Political parties SingFirst and NSP realised this when they printed posters with Tamil words that essentially translated to gibberish.

So SingFirst’s excuse can be summarised into two words — Printing Error.

Sebastian Teo, president of NSP, commented how despite having professional translators, ensuring the Tamil script is printed accurately is more difficult for them.

The explanations NSP gave for the error is similar to the one SingFirst gave: Printing Error.

Some voters have commented that since these parties cannot show the Tamil language respect, Tamils should not show the party respect either.

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3. Chee Hong Tat doesn’t support dialect, but introduces himself in dialect

Guilty: PAP’s new candidate Chee Hong Tat

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In 2009, the then-Principal Private Secretary to Lee Kuan Yew issued a letter to the Straits Times forum claiming that:

“It would be stupid for any Singapore agency or NTU to advocate the learning of dialects, which must be at the expense of English and Mandarin,”

In 2015, Chee, who had just been introduced as a new candidate for the Peoples’ Action Party in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, spoke in the Hokkien dialect, along with English and Chinese.

4. RP’s Andy Zhu dunno how to put phone to silent

Guilty: Reform Party (RP) chairman Andy Zhu

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In cinemas, libraries, and event talks, we are asked to “please switch all mobile phones to silent mode.”

Reform Party chairman Andy Zhu clearly didn’t get the memo.

When he spoke at the RP’s rally on Friday (4 Sept), he was speaking halfway when his phone rang, and he sheepishly excused himself from the podium.

“Sorry ah, I’m going to switch off my phone first.”

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5. Lim Swee Say offends Malaysians and PRCs in one speech

Guilty: PAP’s Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say

So I am thinking, if we didn’t separate in 1965, today you and I would be Malaysians, ‘heng’ ah.

So this year we celebrate SG50, and I am thinking, if my father didn’t get on the boat to Singapore, I might be a China citizen.

Ouch.

Malaysia’s ruling party, UMNO, had some swift and sharp words for him:

Lim’s position as a minister does not reflect his position as a cabinet minister. Perhaps he is short of campaign material. He could have instead shared his vision and mission with his constituents rather than bad-mouthing other countries.

And so did Malaysia’s Malaysian Indian Congress leader:

Lim is a minister who behaves like an idiot. Singapore should be embarrassed for having a cabinet minister like him.

Surely Minister Lim would have known that in this era, news travels quickly, and whatever you say at rallies can be reproduced all over the world.

Hopefully he will have more Swee things to Say in the last few days before Polling Day.

6. People who weren’t sure which party they were from

Guilty: Reform Party’s M. Ravi and Jesse Loo

“Sorry, you from which party again ah?”

7. PAP’s Sim Ann does her best impression of Dolores Umbridge

Guilty: PAP’s Sim Ann

Fans of Harry Potter, kee chiu!

But anyway, if you spotted a few similarities between Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Sim Ann in her rally speech and the character Dolores Umbridge, then you were not alone.

The impression that this Dr Chee gives me is that they are very good at “chut pattern.”

From the cutesy hair-swishing to the venomously sweet tone in which she derided her opponent, Dr Chee Soon Juan, we think she deserves more than just a seat in the next election – she should consider auditioning if there ever is a “Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix – Singapore Edition” movie.

8. NSP’s Choong Hon Heng — BOOOOOOOOOOOO the PAP!

Guilty: NSP’s Choong Hon Heng

“Is he like, drunk or something?”

Maybe he just had too much Red Bull or kopi ka dai this morning. Slow down on the sugar!

9. SingFirst failing spell check

Guilty: SingFirst 

Yes, those red squiggly lines that are the bane of every Microsoft Word user are there for all to see.

Firstly, today I learned that “Tanjong Pagar”, “Jurong” and “SingFirst” are not officially recognised words in the British dictionary.

Secondly, whoever is the webmaster for the SingFirst Facebook page should be fired. Full stop.

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10. 2.5 million people can vote. What of the other 3 million people in Singapore?

Guilty: National Solidarity Party’s Eugene Yeo

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At the NSP’s rally speech on the 7th of September, the NSP’s Eugene Yeo gave this quotable quote:

Only 2.5 million can vote — can I safely say the other 3 million are not true-blue Singaporeans?

Of course, this 3 million who can’t vote includes Singaporeans under 21, including a majority of NSFs. They’re ‘safely’ not true-blue Singaporeans either.

Nicole Seah is probably happy that she’s no longer with the Nicole Seah National Solidarity Party (NSP).

11. The Orh Luak debacle (See our full article here)

Guilty: Teo Chee Hean

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Okay, so this might have technically happened before hustings, but we think this gaffe is still rather cringe-worthy.

A seemingly innocuous picture of WP chairman Sylvia Lim tucking into a plate of orh luak at Bedok 85 resulted a very fiery rebuttal by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Here’s what he said:

Now we see the chairman of the town council saying that Fengshan SMC looks quite delicious. What’s going to happen? You’re going to swallow up Fengshan? For what purpose? To serve the residents of Fengshan? Or is Fengshan delicious because you want to add it to the pot? And help the town council with the deficit?

– DPM Teo Chee Hean

Ooh, touchy. Now anyone eating at Fengshan will be sure to try the heavenly taste of their fried oyster.

12. Vivian Balakrishnan’s door note

Guilty: Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and the people who designed his flyers 

Erm. Yeah.

Fails and More Fails

Some of these fails are just unfortunate, like M. Ravi getting too excited on Nomination Day and messing up his speech. Nomination Day is a big occasion, and it is his first time running as a candidate, so we can understand his excitement. And it was a funny moment for all.

Some, with better planning, could certainly have been avoided. Minister Lim Swee Say should have realised that his speech could easily be shared all over the world, including across the Causeway, and the Tamil translation errors could also have been avoided with more due diligence.

But hey — what’s done is done, and it’ll stay in the Internet for all to see.

Forever.

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