Saturday, 30 March 2013

PAP’s Alignment and Sustainability Challenges under Capability Analysis

Using the strategy tool of capability analysis, the PAP is facing challenges in alignment and sustainability.  In the capability value chain, there is little value created by Design and Innovation. The PAP has lost its monopoly status in the ’election’ market. An open competition environment will threaten the economic profits that the PAP has been enjoying in the past 50 years.

Capability value chain

Political parties do have value chain. This is very true for the PAP as it runs the government likes a business corporation.  Singapore government agencies and departments are required to achieve business excellence for their performance. ( )

For the case of politics, the only different is that the PAP wants to gain more votes (rather than money) from the quality performance of its public administration.   Hence, the usual value chain of ‘Supplier - Manufacture – Distribution – Buyer’ can be described as follows:

PAP associates and grass roots organizations are playing the support and supply role.  The directly involved organizations are People’s Association (, NTUC (trade union,, election department (, etc. And the indirect supporting bodies include chambers of commerce, business associations, racial and cultural groups, and even some NGOs etc.

Political parties need candidates to stand for election.  People with potential will be invited to attend tea sessions for their suitability.  Potential candidates will be assigned to grass roots for training and understudy under current members of parliament. Candidates will also undergo internal selection, background checks, interviews, promotion, training, etc.   

Before a general election is called, there are many distribution works including media coverage for the potential candidates; detailed study of electoral districts based on population and feedback (sometimes even external survey); re-drawing of constituency boundary to gain economic profits; election budget to please voters; moods of voters; key issues; finalize list of candidates and group them into different teams, etc.

Parliament is dissolved and a new general election is called. It is time to convince voters to buy the PAP candidates. The new or re-drawn constituencies (single and group) will be announced in short notice which will give oppositions little time to prepare for election (another economic profits possibility).   The government control media will then give friendly and co-operative coverage for the PAP candidates, development plans in their contested seats, and team leaders for the group constituency (GRCs). The campaign period is short and is only lasted for 9 days plus 1 more cooling-off day.   

Capabilities and Economic Profits

If we use the 3 economic profits elements for the capability analysis of the PAP, besides monopoly, the design and innovation elements need urgent improvement.  

Table below shows the relationship of the various capabilities.






The value chain

It is either lack of Design or Innovation that lead to less value (economic profits) being created.  The PAP can still use the (less effective) monopoly power to control the value chain of Supply – Manufacturer – Distribution – Buyer.  But there are alignment problems and sustainable issues.

These alignments and sustainable issues are appearing in primary and secondary activities.

Primary activities: 
The PAP still uses the same design and innovative process and procedures in the primary activities. From logistics (organization of visits, rally), production (selection of candidates), marketing and sales (through main stream media, endorsement), to services (rally gifts, campaign walks and slogan), there is no different from the past practice.

Secondary activities:
As for secondary activities, there are also no new design and innovations for value creation. From Infrastructure (organization structure), HR (deployment of candidates, PR assistance), R&D (use of new media, people engagement), to procurement (new assistance or additional resources), design and innovation have failed to create new or even maintain the economic profits.

Since there is no control of entry, oppositions can now compete and participate in the elections with less fear factors. The use of monopoly (state) control through tangible and intangible means has failed and it can no longer protect the economic profits or keep all the economic profits under PAP pocket. Due to the ineffective entry control, the hope is on design and innovation to maintain the level of economic profits.  However, it is a challenge for the PAP to come out with useful and workable design and innovation solutions.   


Design and Innovation do not help in maintaining an efficient alignment for the PAP. Internal and external alignments do not paint an economic profit capability picture.

The PAP is using a top-down approach for election campaign. The party central committee decides the direction, action plans and rules to follow.  PAP associates and organizations will follow the instructions.  Grass roots are not happy about this arrangement and they have voiced out their concerns but their views are not being taken seriously.

Supporting organizations are rather passive and wait for instruction.  Some may not even be willing to co-operate but they just have to do it for fear of offending the PAP.

This ‘Process, People and System’ alignment problems make the reinforcement and building up the PAP capability unsustainable.

If we consider VRIN (Valuable, Rare, Inimitable, and Non-Substitutable), there are problems in value alignment. The PAP value proposition is weak. It cannot offer or propose Valuable future to convince voters.  It is no more a Rare option for Singaporeans.  It is easy to be copied and Inimitable is not on the PAP side. Finally, the PAP is certainly not a Non-substitutable product.  Voters are willing to buy alternative products and options.   


The past practices of winning elections easily with out of proportion economic profits are no more sustainable.   Other political parties can copy the same tactics or improve the old practices to attract more voters.  Imitability is no more a problem for competitors. On the other hand, the PAP is facing durability problems.  Some old practices or past success models are at the stage of ‘degrade and obsolete’.  They cannot hold the economic profits as before.  

Yes. Alternative parties and oppositions can easily do the same.  They have better turnout for their political rallies, more positive responses during house visits, more voters are willing to take picture together with the oppositions or showing opposition flags etc. VRIN is on the opposition side, especially in the social media.

Sustainability means the PAP has to maintain its capabilities in the value chain. But there are out of date practices, or some are already degraded and obsoleted.  For example, People’s Association, as a front line support organization, does not bring in valuable feedbacks.  Voters are suspicious about the open support given by union, chambers of commerce or associations.  They even dislike the good education background and outstanding credential of the PAP candidates.

Building capabilities:

The PAP is facing great challenges in building up its capabilities.  For a business organization, it can acquire the required technology or other capabilities through merger and acquisitions or develop the capabilities internally overtime by own investment and R & D.

It is not possible for the PAP to do so, for instance, buying over opposition parties or merger with them.  The best the PAP can do is to promote less creditable oppositions, painting bad pictures of oppositions or even planting moles into the oppositions.   

The PAP is less successful in developing capabilities internally.  Overtime, it has proved that the quality of their candidates, the commitment of party members, the alignment between PAP and support organizations, the process-people-system alignment relationship and even the media support  have deteriorated.   Internal capability building is less effective as before not to mention its culture and value upbringing internally.  

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