Friday 18 November 2011

How PAP is perceived on the Internet ...

How PAP is perceived on the Internet ...
by Ng Jing Yng, TODAY, 17 Nov 2011

New media made its presence felt during the May General Election, and Minister of State (Trade and Industry) Teo Ser Luck yesterday drew attention to how the People's Action Party (PAP) and Opposition parties come in for different treatment on the Internet even when they deliver the same message.

One of four panellists invited by the Project Reach team to discuss the strategic engagement of new media, Mr Teo said a Facebook post on housing by someone from an opposition party gathered "a lot of likes and hero worshipping". But a similar message posted by a PAP member resulted in criticism.

And a fellow PAP colleague was labelled "wayang" and "unreal" after posting a Facebook message, even though it was genuinely meant.

Speaking to Today later, Mr Teo said such occurrences boiled down to how different groups of supporters perceive the PAP differently and some might look at the party behind the individual.

But the negative responses could also reflect real sentiments on the ground, as some policies could be affecting some people adversely, he added.

Politicians have to expect and be receptive to "different, unexpected trend of behaviour" when they use social media.

"It could be cathartic to some people, it sort of cleanse and give them a way to vent. For us, we have to expect them, you cannot expect all positives," he said.

While a local survey concluded that the recent GE was not an "Internet election", Mr Teo felt that social media and new media had a hand in the results, which saw the PAP gather its lowest vote share since independence.

"I do think that there was some impact because it does viral out some of the comments and opinions that influence the thinking of some segments of our population," he said. "Different age groups read them and interpret differently."

The Government is now learning to use new media effectively, but Mr Teo believes it is still essential to balance with the usage of traditional media like newspapers to tap into different communities.

While he said there are those who doubt it is him posting Facebook comments, as "it does not seem to be what the Government has been saying", Mr Teo stressed the need to stay genuine. Where possible, he implements the good suggestions he receives to encourage more constructive comments.

Different online reactions to PAP, opposition
Yahoo! Newsroom, 17 Nov 2011

The People’s Action Party (PAP) and opposition parties attract different views online even when they tend to deliver the same message.

This was pointed out by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck who was one of four panelists invited to a discussion on the strategic engagement of new media on Wednesday.

Highlighting a few examples, he said that a Facebook post by a member of an opposition party garnered “a lot of likes and hero worshipping” but a similar message by a member of the ruling party would result in criticism.

Such instances, he said, came down to how different groups of supporters view the PAP in a different light, with some looking at the party more than the individual, reported Today.

However, the negative feedback could also be a reflection of feelings on the ground as some policies could have adverse effects on Singaporeans, he said.

And despite a recent survey by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) saying the May General Election was not an “Internet election”, Teo acknowledged that social media and new media had played a role in the results of the contest.

Politicians, he added, have to be prepared and receptive to “different, unexpected trend of behavior” when using social media as one cannot expect all “positives”.

Using his personal experience, Teo said there are detractors who doubt it is even him posting comments on Facebook because it is not in line with the government’s stance. But he emphasised the need to remain genuine and said he will try to implement good suggestions he receives to encourage constructive discussions.

Even with the government now learning to utilise new media effectively, Teo believes it is important to balance it with traditional media such as newspapers to tap into different communities.

How government can engage citizens using social media
By Tessa Wong & Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 19 Nov 2011

SINGAPORE is not there yet, but the day may not be far when Housing Board residents can vote on how to spend their town council money.

Or they could go online and post alerts of flooding in their neighbourhood on a government-hosted map, for national agencies to monitor.

Such engagement of citizens is already taking place in countries such as Brazil and Britain, said political scientist Jane Fountain who spoke yesterday at a forum called GovCamp, attended by bloggers, academics and civil servants.

The discussion centred on how a government can engage its citizens through social media and ways data can be made public and used for the country's good.

Senior civil servant James Kang set the tone when he acknowledged that the days when 'Government knows best' are over.

'Now it's about collaboration... the Government used to be like a chef, (it) prepared the dish and gave it to a citizen as the customer.

'But in co-creation we are partners, so both of us are in the kitchen,' said Mr Kang, assistant chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority.

He was one of four members on a panel leading the discussion.

But such collaboration comes with a major challenge, said Professor Fountain, who chairs the World Economic Forum's global advisory council on the future of government and was also on the panel.

The challenge, she said, is that the Government has to get used to a slower decision-making process than before.

Elaborating later to reporters, she said: 'It's probably very difficult for a government that has been very good at planning and delivering economic results... to figure out how to loosen up a little bit.'

She suggested that one way is to allow broader participation at a local, rather than national, level.

Citing Brazil and Britain as examples, she said that communities there get to identify and vote on the spending priorities of the budgets for their neighbourhoods.

Another example she gave is to let citizens post alerts about incidents in their neighbourhood on a government online map for its agencies to monitor.

Such software developed by non-profit company Ushahidi was used by Australians to report damage caused by the Queensland floods earlier this year and by Kenyans to report incidents of violence after their 2007 presidential election.

The Singapore Government already has some e-engagement initiatives in place and several were highlighted by Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts Grace Fu in a speech at the event, organised by software giant Microsoft.

These include providing more than 6,000 sets of data from more than 50 government agencies at the portal. Also, these agencies often use social media to engage the public, Ms Fu added.

As of June this year, there were nearly 150 Facebook pages, over 50 YouTube channels and more than 50 Twitter accounts started by the Government.

But engagement is not a one-way street. Citizens have their roles and responsibilities too, said panel members.

Citizen contributions are well-suited to some forms of interaction, like the flood alerts.

But serious policy issues call for deeper engagement and Prof Fountain noted that since policies are crafted by people with experience, citizen engagement must be sustained and thoughtful.

'We don't want something online through social media that looks like mob rule, where people come up with things they might not have come up with if they had spent more time thinking about it and debating it,' she said.

Effective citizen engagement, she added, also requires civic virtue: 'People thinking about what's best for the society as a whole, not just 'what makes my personal life better'.'

One way for citizens to start helping is by proactively identifying topics for public discussion, she told reporters later.

'Sometimes, people are going to have an awareness of things before the government does,' she added.

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