Chan Jia Hui
When Goh Chok Tong was tasked by the PAP to help win back Hougang, the latter dangled a 100 million dollars upgrading carrot. We all knew what happened. It improved Low Thia Khiang’s winning margin.
Now, a certain Teo Chee Hean asked a question of the Workers’ Party (WP) though the intention as many observers may agree is to take a swipe at WP:” Is Hougang so special that the WP is sending you a candidate that the WP themselves decided not to sent to Parliament when they had a chance?” Teo questioned why WP did not send Png to the Parliament as a Non-constituency Member of the Parliament (NCMP), and further fuelled the debate with asking whether Png was indeed the best man.
It would probably be better for Teo to understand how the public perceives the NCMP position. To cut things short, an NCMP position isn’t necessarily looked upon highly by everyone – it is not even considered the real deal, not when you can’t vote on amendment of the constitution, public funds, express a vote of no confidence in the government, and removing the president from office. You are just an MP whose wings have been clipped. Although there will be people who salivate at the offer of an NCMP position, I am sure there are others who don’t give two hoots about it.
Teo meant this statement as an attack on Png, asking whether Png is WP’s best man. However, bringing up the NCMP issue may just undermine Desmond’s campaign. This is a different kettle of fish altogether from Goh’s carrot dangling. This is rather what we call “ridicule psychology”.
This happens in the sports field, the use of ridicule by a coach to instil a drive in his athletes to prove him wrong. For example, a coach telling his netball team that they won’t even make it past preliminary rounds. This inspired the girls to train harder, push themselves harder and psyche themselves up for the competition to prove him wrong.
Or a rival claiming that his competitor is of an average standard who lacks behind all other elite competitors in the sport. This form of ridicule psychology can spur the one being criticised to prove his critics wrong.
You see, the issue is not really about whether Png has what it takes to qualify as an NCMP. What Hougang and by its extension, its voters, are concerned with is whether Png can go one better than an NCMP and become a full MP.
Now, by questioning Png’s ability to be an NCMP, is Teo providing a form of “ridicule psychology” and giving the impetus to Hougang voters to prove him wrong and help the former achieve higher than an NCMP as a full MP? Goh suffered a setback with his carrot dangling, but this one, will probably give Hougang voters more motivation to vote in favour of WP. This is what ridicule psychology is all about, even though Teo doesn’t intend it to be that way.
Photo courtesy of Channel News Asia