Posts tagged ‘Status’

May 7, 2011

election in singapore

by stillinnewyork

Besides the personal stakes involved which made 2011 Singapore General Elections so exciting, the campaign developments offered some amazing glimpses of human nature. Case in point, the intense dislike for Tin Pei Ling and her ‘beauty contest’ with Nicole Seah highlighted a few of these human tendencies

1) Raising personal status

Putting down Tin Pei Ling is a status enhancer for many people. She is PAP, purveyor of a special brand of Singaporean democracy/benevolent dictatorship. Championing democracy (even without understanding what it means and the consequences) is associated with the western developed world, which is high status. You see this exploited by the Worker’s Party in their calls for a ‘first-world’ parliament.

Tin Pei Ling is objectively higher status than most Singaporeans (higher status than many women because of her young age and decent looks, higher status because of her education, higher status because of her high-flyer husband), bringing her down implicitly raises their own status relative to hers.

The fact that the online traffic is overwhelming pro-opposition and anti-Tin Pei Ling make support for her a risky proposition and decidedly low status. How many people will help someone being lynched? Safer to join in (surely she must have done something wrong to deserve such treatment!).

2) Emotional decision making

‘she is too young’
‘she was throwing a tantrum in the video!’
‘her greatest regret is not bringing her parents to disneyland!!’
‘her husband is principal private secretary to LHL that’s how she got her in’
‘how can tin pei ling be worth $15,000 a month?’

A large proportion of the online voice against her comprises ad hominem attacks, on her age, her looks, her husband, her facebook pictures. Rational voters should have asked to see her record of having spent 7 years in the grassroots – her competence will most directly affect voters over the next 5 years (not her fashion preference). Of course nobody did or cared.

Contrast this with Nicole Seah, or new MP Pritam Singh of Aljunied. They talk a good talk, but what have they done in the past 7 years of their lives that would make them good MPs? Unless you know them personally, the responsible voter should have tried to find out.

3) Rooting for the underdog/sense of fairness

Many Singaporeans dislike Tin Pei Ling because her candidancy reeks of ‘unfairness’. This is related to PAP’s incumbency, perceived arrogant attitude, unfair political tactics, etc. After the matter of the casinos (steamrolled through without much public consultation) and the government’s open door policy to immigrants (pushing up home prices and clogging up public transportation), it is infuriating that the PAP is once again doing ‘whatever they want’ by parachuting in Tin Pei Ling. After all, how can she be an MP when heavyweights like Chiam See Tong can (and did) lose?

So root for the underdog. If they win you’ll be a part of creating history, if not, hey that was always the expected outcome. In geek speak, the bet has positive skew.

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