PAP needs a public communications SWAT team

In Political governance on 28/05/2011 at 10:43 am

After Dr Lim Wee Kiak fell into a hole after he implied that the PAP only listens to S’poreans if they are as well paid as PAP ministers or MPs, he dug himself deeper into said hole, by claiming his remarks were taken out of context, then a joke. He was undermining the PM’s message that the PAP was listening.

In the end, he has had to apologise and eat his words.

So he strayed from the PM’s message of a listening PAP and tried to hide his mistake. Tt wasn’t that the PM’s message to the voters was all Wayang or Dr Lim was a subversive intent on saboing the PM and the PAP. It was an “honest mistake”, showing yet again that the PAP system has failed to find an MP that is, at the very least, competent verbally.

Now that the PM has issued his instructions to MPs, stressing that this is a “new era”, there is no excuse for MPs to go off-message.

The PAP must start disciplining members who stray-off message*. If the PM’s dad is not off-limits to a public rebuke, why should Dr Lim Wee Kiak? One stupid remark can ruin the PM’s strategy, given that the PAP has great difficulty putting its side of any story across in the new media, a place where it has a tiny presence and few friends or allies.

The PAP should also have a SWAT team to craft responses to “off-messages”, when they happen. It is clear that this MP was left to his own devices in crafting his response, making things worse, before getting better.

He should have been advised to acknowledge his mistake, apologise for it and then act on the apology: not to obfuscate, misrepresnt and hope the problem would go away. The new media here would not allow him to get away with evading the issue.

Imagine the goodwill that would have resulted to the PAP if he had been publicly rebuked, and then he acknowledged and apologised for his mistake, and acted on the apology.

Final tot, as a PAP MP is the MD of the S’pore office of a leading int’l PR firm, I’m surprised at the bad public communication skills of the PAP. PAP not prepared to pay firm’s high fees or MD refuses to give special discount? 

*I’m assuming that the PAP has communicated to members the messages it wants them to communicate to the electorate. If not, it should.

  1. According to the insiders in the local public relations industry, Baey Yam Keng’s appointment as MD was to cultivate the goodwill of the PAP. The morale and business of the agency has gone downhill since this joker was appointed, unravelling all the good work done by the previous MD. Sad that our country has come to such a state.

  2. Bad as they are, it makes good fodder for the electorate, and better still, we at least get to see some real side of the party members. Start hiring the spin doctors, people will get even more cynical and jaded. This will work against and alienate them even further. Disagree on this point.

  3. I believe the new media is something foreign to the PAP. They still haven’t figured out a coherent marketing strategy. As the share of MSM dwindles going forward, they must adapt to the new reality fast or they will be irrelevant in 2 elections at the most. That also means some drastic changes including free speech.

  4. I think hiring spin doctors to twist black into white would be rather pointless when the new media – social networks, bloggers, online forums et al – is very adept at exposing such attempts. After all, they have plenty of experience doing that against SPH and Mediacorp.

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