Monday, 4 November 2013

Sampan Politics Sampan Economics

[PM Lee calls for a new Sampan Project 2.0 to remind Singaporeans of our venerability. It is just a continuation of his Right Politics Right Economics.  Unfortunately, his sampan technology fails to see the reality of social media. As a result, it is difficult for the PAP to get the field study right. ]  
Another sampan is another summer insect to the winter ice. An insect will never have the chance to experience the winter cold in his short summer life.

Project Sampan is just another failed field study that will cost the PAP dearly, on top the workable but less value generated machine of lab study.

Lab study vs. Field Study
Debating whether lab study is more effective than field study in predicting behaviour, most people will point to field study because it gives the realism of actual feedbacks.   However, despite heavy investment on field study, the People’s Action Party still can’t figure out the real problems and it now looks more like a sampan heading to nowhere.

Lab study is like using sampan technology and it worked very well in the past. For field study, you will have to apply internet and social media skills.

Less effective lab study comparing to the past
What is a lab study? The PAP controls almost all the information and data in Singapore. From where you stay, how much you earn, how you travel, how you spend your money, even up to a cluster of voting pattern in your neighbour, the PAP has all these raw data.  They can easily process the data and create values for their own use.  This is why they are so good in re-drawing electoral boundary, grouping of constituencies and sometimes creating new and deleting ‘risky’ constituencies.

In the past 50 years, the PAP has managed their lab study very well. And the study does not disappoint them. 

However, with more and more sophisticated voters, lab study has reached its maximum use. It now faces the fate of diminishing return.  The more the PAP carries out the lab studies, less or even negative values will be created.  The percentage of votes gained in past elections indicates such a trend.

So, the PAP has to invest heavily in field study to get more feedbacks, more accurate returns.

Using sampan technology to conduct field study
What is a field study? In fact, we see them every day. Do you know Feedback Unit? The very first field study initiative to get the ‘real’ feedbacks from the people. You may also hear of the many “Cs”, be it CCC, CC, grassroots organisations, etc. Of course, you cannot miss the NTUC where they get feedbacks from the unions. 

So far, the biggest investment is the SG Conversation and perhaps to a less extent, for the benefit of overseas Singaporeans, the feedbacks expand to overseas – the yearly Singapore Day.

However, field study is less successful than the lab study for the PAP. Information and data collect from different field study channels do not represent the real population.  The samples are bias so do the results.  One thing you have to respect the PAP is that the more failures they receive the more and larger field studies with even bigger budgets they will commit.  So, they are spending tax money for their own good – for the mission (and in the name of inconclusiveness) of getting real feedbacks.

Why? Why is it so difficult to get the real feedbacks despite spending millions of dollars?

First, the samples are wrong. They have bias samples for not randomly selected participants.   So, they are forced to do within groups study and analysis. Sometimes, they also blame the various “Cs” for providing wrong or imperfect information.  They also blame the unions never give the ‘real’ situation – how come no real wages increases for more than 10 years, unions never give the feedbacks.  They also blame the Feedback Unit never reach out to the ‘right’ people.

So, they want to reach out. You see ministers taking public transport, you see MPs looking for high flying objects, you see minister spot check the living spaces of foreign workers, you hear tuition is not necessary, you hear poverty classification is not necessary, you hear flood comes only every 50 years, and after all the achievements, Singapore is still a ‘sampan’. 

In one word, the PAP is using sampan technology to reach out, to get ‘real’ feedbacks.

Therefore, the result of the field study is a one-side Singapore story that the PAP has collected from the people, either intentionally or unintentionally.      

This ineffective filed study will cost the PAP dearly. Despite having all the information from both lab and field studies, they still cannot direct the sampan to the right direction.  

So, a PAP sampan remains a sampan. The PAP remains a PAP with no possibility of gaining back the high percentage votes obtained in the early ‘sampan’ days.

Perhaps, by now you know why PM Lee still considers Singapore a ‘sampan’.  He is in fact referring to his own ‘PAP sampan’ – failing to get the real feedbacks from people.  He is using the same old ‘sampan’ technology to get Singaporean feedbacks.    

Sampan technology for feedbakc in an internet era?

Advice from Zhuangzi on sampan technology
A ‘sampan’ has no imagination of the world of social media and internet.  Of course, the ‘PAP sampan’ will also not approach social media for feedbacks. Zhuangzi has this advice to the PAP: Never discuss (winter) ice with a summer insect. (夏虫不可以语冰)A sampan technology and a social media technology is really a different world in different era.

So, we cannot talk to PM Lee and the PAP about the feedbacks in the internet era. Like the summer insects, we are in different worlds so do different feedbacks for different purposes.

For PM Lee, his ‘Right Politics Right Economics’ remains a ‘Sampan Politics Sampan Economics’.  For Project Sampan 2.0, it is an equivalent of summer insects to winter ice.  Good luck to the summer insects and the PAP sampan!    

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