Written by Ng E-Jay
03 April 2009
In an article entitled “It’s the message, not the platform” published in the TODAY newspaper on 03 April, reporter Loh Chee Kong wrote that the Worker’s Party was laying claim to being the first political party in Singapore to use Twitter to send out updates and mobilise supporters.
Mr Loh wrote that according to WP’s Twitter page, its first message was posted on 10 November 2008, some 11 days before the Singapore Democratic Party started doing so.
I wonder whether the mainstream press bothers to check their facts, especially when reporting on the Opposition in Singapore.
The first Opposition political party to use Twitter was not the Worker’s Party, but the Singapore Democratic Party. The SDP used Twitter to provide real-time, on-site updates to their supporters and friends during their very first Tak Boleh Tahan grassroots campaign in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC on 01 May 2008. And not only did the SDP make use of social networking platforms like Twitter to rally support for their cause and message, they also uploaded five videos of their event onto Youtube. (See here and here.)
Coincidentally, Mr Loh Chee Kong was the same TODAY reporter who last month tried to dig up past grievances between Mr Chiam See Tong and Dr Chee Soon Juan in an effort to portray the Opposition as being disunited. (See here, here, here and here.)
In his latest salvo, Mr Loh also quoted Mr Yaw Shin Leong of the Worker’s Party as saying that the WP’s (new media) initiatives are part of a continuous process and “not an end in (themselves)”, and that “it’s still about the message, not the platforms”.
This much I can agree, though I would also add that it is in the interest of all Opposition parties to make full use of alternative media to spread their message, especially in Singapore where print media is controlled by the Government via the oppressive Newspapers and Printing Presses Act, and where the mainstream media has a clear bias towards the self-appointed political elite.
I have observed that the SDP has been using social networking platforms like Facebook (see SDP’s facebook group) to reach out to friends and build capacity, and have been regularly updating their website whenever they carry out grassroots activities in the HDB heartlands.
In this media climate where the mainstream press refuses to give certain Opposition groups a fair airing, parties like the SDP really have no choice other than exploit the internet to the fullest extent possible.