Singaporeans’ Online Sentiment about the Recent Issues that Shook Singapore Politics
It seemed like time stood still for Singapore in the last two months. With the nation anticipating its 58th birthday just around the corner, this series of events led Singaporeans to ask – what moral standards do we set for our leaders?
We analyzed people’s discussions and opinions online to gain deeper insights into Singaporeans’ sentiments regarding these matters.
Which Topics Did People Talk and Engage About the Most?
The Ridout Road Saga, which began in May 2023, dominated conversations and engagements (Likes, Comments, and Shares). It accounted for half of the conversations about the five recent issues as it has been discussed for the past two months.
The corruption probe involving Minister Iswaran and Ong Beng Seng, which people still sought more details about, came in a far second, taking over 20% of the buzz. Despite only being revealed last week, the two affairs already got significant volume, as this kind of issue hasn’t happened in Singapore politics since Former Speaker of the Parliament Michael Palmer resigned from his position 11 years ago.
Leon Perera and Nicole Seah’s issue had a slightly higher volume than Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui’s, as this was the only recent issue involving the opposition party. Tan Chuan-Jin’s remark towards MP Jamus Lim had a significantly lower buzz and engagement volume with the other topics as the revelation of the two affairs immediately succeeded it.
How Much Did People Discuss Each Topic Over Time?
Since the beginning of the Ridout Road Saga in early May, it has remained a topic of discussion for an extended period. There were two notable spikes in conversations: one at the end of May, following statements made by Minister K Shanmugam and Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on the matter, and another at the start of July when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed the issue in Parliament.
In contrast, Tan Chuan-Jin’s unparliamentary remark generated discussions for just a week before being overshadowed by the two affair-related issues.
Regarding the more recent revelations, Minister Iswaran’s issues experienced the highest peak of conversations. Although there was a significant dip a week later, people are still actively discussing it online. Both affairs brought to light just last week already had a dip in conversations this week.
What are People’s Sentiments About Each Topic?
The recent issues led to people mistrusting the government – with the theme being the highest for all topics, except the issue involving Leon Perera and Nicole Seah.
People have doubts about the proceedings’ fairness concerning the Ridout Road Saga and the corruption probe involving Minister Iswaran and Ong Beng Seng.
People questioned the length of time that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong knew about Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui’s relationship but did not take the proper actions.
Even though it had the lowest volume of conversations, Tan Chuan-Jin’s unparliamentary language issue had the highest percentage of mistrust sentiment because people perceived using that language unacceptable and unbecoming, especially of a Speaker.
Leon Perera and Nicole Seah’s issue also had a percentage of conversations questioning the timing of when the video was released, seemingly implying that it might be a strategy to distract from the other issues.
Aside from this main theme, people also called for transparency as they sought more details about the issues – especially for Minister Iswaran’s still unfolding probe and Leon Perera & Nicole Seah’s video that some people thought was unclear or edited.
Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui’s issue got a significant percentage of conversations supporting the government, showing that it doesn’t tolerate that behavior among its members.
Other themes discussed were the proper allocation of the Ridout Road properties, as several people thought using the land for public housing or parks would be better.
Leon Perera and Nicole Seah’s issue generated significant buzz about people’s mistrust of the WP, as they said they liked the two MPs and were disappointed with them.
What Brands and Marketers Can Learn from the Singapore Political Climate
The recent happenings in the Singapore political climate have highlighted important expectations that people have from their government. As brands and marketers, valuable lessons must be learned from these developments to build trust and credibility with their audiences.
1. Embrace Honesty and Transparency
Singaporeans expect their government to be honest and transparent in addressing issues, especially during challenging times. Similarly, brands and marketers should adopt open and transparent communication with their customers. Being forthcoming about products, services, and potential shortcomings can strengthen the bond of trust between brands and their audience. People are very discerning now and can assess a person/organization’s sincerity through their words – see how netizens have graded the resignation letters of ex-MPs Tan Chuan-Jin, Cheng Li Hui, Leon Perera, and Nicole Seah.
2. Prioritize the Well-being of Customers
A key demand from the public is for the government to prioritize the well-being of the average citizen and allocate resources for the greater good. Similarly, brands should prioritize customers’ needs and strive to provide value and positive experiences. Putting customers’ interests above profit-driven motives fosters loyalty and long-term customer relationships.
3. Uphold Moral Standards
The discussions surrounding the moral obligations and higher standards of public officials serve as a reminder for brands and marketers to uphold ethical practices. Acting with integrity and being responsible in business operations can enhance a brand’s reputation and foster a positive image among consumers. Also,
4. Embrace Healthy Competition
The call for establishing a ‘real’ opposition party indicates a desire for proper checks and balances within the government. Brands and marketers can learn from this by embracing healthy competition within their industry. Healthy competition encourages innovation and continuously pushes companies to improve their products and services.
5. Be Human and Empathetic
Finally, it is crucial to recognize the human element in leadership. The recent events show that everyone is fallible, even those in positions of power. Brands and marketers can draw from this insight by being authentic and acknowledging their imperfections. Demonstrating vulnerability, when appropriate, can create a sense of relatability and strengthen the connection with the audience. Also, no matter how tempting it is to leverage a trending topic, it’s more important to exercise grace and empathy – as shown by the flak gotten by Takagi Ramen’s online post related to Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui’s issue. Not every trend should be capitalized – the critical thing is to see which trends align with your brand’s values.
Kei Obusan – Insights Director at Radarr
Kei Obusan has worked for agencies, brands, and consultancies in the digital analytics and consumer insights space for the past ten years. She has worked with brands from various industries, such as FMCG, pharmaceutical, and technology.