TJS: The song, not the singer?

In Political governance on 29/01/2012 at 5:40 am

(Or “Why did people vote for TJS?”: Updated at 11 am)

After the 2011 presidential election, in which Tan Jee Say came in a decent third, he made the following points (to mask his second defeat in three months, remember he RI boy and RI boys not supposed to be serial losers, and make himself feel and look good?)

— More people voted for him than for the WP in the May general election (Actually it was even better than that as I wrote recently in TJS’s voice, “someone with 25% of voters behind me (5% more people voted for me than for the WP, and NSP combined and that the combined votes of all the opposition parties was only 40% more than the people who voted for me”): QED he was more popular than WP. Plausible, I tot.

— That many of his supporters would have likely spoiled their votes. This I found a bit rich: 25% of S’porean voters spoiling their votes? Come on pull the other leg. Even 5% would be 4% too many.

Anyway, I tot of  what he said about his popularity and his supporters when reading this recently from in Economist blog: The idea that political behaviour is expressive rather than instrumental—that we vote not to maximise the chances that our policy preferences will be implemented by government, but instead to send a message to ourselves and others about who we are, and what we care about—is meant to overcome a number of flaws in simple economistic accounts of voting … What message, then, does a vote for Newt Gingrich express? What message is so compelling that South Carolina voters were willing to overlook Mr Gingrich’s overwhelming liabilities as a candidate? “We think open marriages are great!”? “We love corrupt Washington insiders”? I guess not. Saturday’s expressive message, I think, comes down to this: “We’re not going down without a fight!

Translated into S’pore politics, could it be the 25% of S’poreans who voted for him, voted not because he was TJS but because he was perceived as the candidate that the PAP and government would have least preferred? If he did not stand, they would have voted for one Tan Kin Lian, who lost his deposit when TJS stood? Nothing to do who TJS is, but everything to do with his perceived anti-PAP and – govmin credentials?

So if he forms a new party, he and his alleged fan gal club (allegedly Jeannette Chong, Nicole Seah and Michelle Lee), may be surprised to discover that the 25% of the popular vote for presidential candidate TJS doesn’t translate into support for their new party (even with gal sepport). These voters have other ways of sending a message to themselves and others about who they are, and what they care about: They can vote WP or SDP.

Juz read this (11 am): He is setting up the the shared resource centre for the Opposition that he was thinking about before the last general election. Gd for him. Gd, astute tactical move. He can use this to research if he has the support needed to set up a new and credible political party. All the best.

(BTW, “The Singet Not the Song” was the title of a 1961 very forgetable British film about a priest and a gay attracted to him but not to his message. Priest was a Roman Catholic.)

  1. You must give TJS credit that he overwhelmingly outperformed TKL. Some TJS votes went to TCB – those votes were to elect anyone but TT/establishment. But if there were only 2 candidates, TJS might have won because people wanted someone to check on PAP. (In the case of TCB vs TT, the answer is obvious.)

    • He did well. He got his positioning well and he had the balls to openly challenge the PAP (TKL was using the Dog whistle approach, sending coded messages)and dared spend his own money (TKL was trying to use Other People’s Money).

      I disagree that he could beat TT in a two-horse race. TT would have won 60-40 at least. Most likely 65-35. S’poreans not ready for constitutional rows between president, and executive and parly.

      • PAP received 60% in a GE, I seriously doubt they could have done better than that in a 2-way PE. The fact that they are in control of the government may make people feel comfortable voting for a non-PAP president. People understand that the president has little power, at least that’s what PAP wants them to believe, but they also want to send a message to the PAP. Of course we are just speculating here. But it would be a very close race.

  2. […] Sulaiman: Searching for the Holy Grail of Politics [Thanks Ravin] – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: TJS: The song, not the singer? – Publichouse: Beyond the elusive oppo-unity [Thanks Weixian] – The Real Thing Is: MG Chan Chun […]

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