Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Auntie power

Posted: May 2, 2011 in People
Tags: , , ,

In this elections, Gen-Y voters may be playing a more significant role than in 2006, but the bulk of the votes still lies in the hands of the Gen-X group, and any candidate wishing to win any seat must be able to seal signifcant support of the Gen-X group.

The People’s Action Party appeared to be directing significant attention to the Gen-X group, both positively and negatively, in their election campaigns. On one hand, they remind these Gen-X voters about high flat values and that the government will always share the fruits of economic prosperity through cash handouts every now and then. On the other hand, the PAP also wields a big stick to strike fear into the hearts of Gen X voters by warning of dire consequences should the PAP be voted out.

The PAP has a huge advantage with significant numbers of Gen-X voters using this strategy, especially with the lesser educated homemakers or the so-called “aunties” in Singapore lingo. These “aunties” are not small in numbers, and it is doubtful that these “aunties” are interested in themes such as a first world parliament.

Instead, these aunties are perhaps more concerned with whether the fish or vegetable prices at the wet markets are going up or down, or whether their favourite fried carrot cake or daily cup of morning coffee at the kopitiam stalls downstairs have increased prices. Or they might be worried about whether the world they know, the world in which there’s only the PAP, will collapse should the PAP be voted out.

Political parties should start thinking about what makes these “aunties”  tick and how to get their votes. The PAP has less to worry about because these “aunties” grew up with the PAP and it is probable that in the absence of a good reason, the default choice is likely the PAP.

The non-PAP parties should not underestimate the power of the “aunties”.


The upcoming General Elections 2011 will see much larger numbers of eligible Gen-Y voters since the last elections in 2006.

According to a white paper by the e-Government Leadership Institute, Gen-Y refers to individuals born between 1977 to 1997. For this year’s elections, Gen-Y Singaporeans born between 1977 to 1990 are eligible to vote, making their collective impact on election results even more pronounced than in 2006.

This generation of voters were born after Singapore started prospering economically. Thus, they are generally more educated and more tech savvy compared to the previous generation.

The preceding generation, known as Gen-X, lived through the hard times of the sixties and seventies, and what Singapore is today to Gen-X Singaporeans is almost a godsend, hence their strong support for the People’s Action Party which had brought about what can be said to be an economic miracle.

Gen-Y Singaporeans, however, are a different breed. Politically, they are likely to be much harder to please. Gen-Y Singaporeans, by virtue of the fact that they are more educated, are more independent-minded and demand more from the government than their parents. Economic prosperity is not enough, and Gen-Y Singaporeans probably have a very different idea of economic prosperity compared to their parents.

With costs of living rising faster than wages, Gen-Y Singaporeans will be hard pressed to be convinced that Singapore is prospering economically. Except for the few Gen-Y Singaporeans who either have parents have deep pockets or who have secured scholarships, most end up saddled with a sizable study loan after completing tertiary education.

Then, they are saddled with a large 30-year housing loan that eats away at their retirement savings. There’s probably the renovation loan after getting married and the expensive 10-year car loan some years down the road. It’s no surprise that Gen-Y Singaporeans don’t feel too happy economically.

Socially and politically, Gen-Y Singaporeans, unlike their parents, are no longer contented to leaving things in the hands of the PAP, which has ruled Singapore since it achieved self-government from the British in 1959. Their voices are loud and clear on online platforms, their natural playground as they grew up with the Internet.

Gen-Y Singaporeans are probably a lot more unpredictable than their parents, and political players need to start figuring out what makes the Gen-Y tick, how to connect with them and more importantly, how to get their vote because there will be even more of them in the next elections.

The PAP appeared to have surrendered the courting of Gen-Y Singaporeans to their opponents. Estate upgrades, the rhetoric of fear and government handouts that proved very popular with Gen-X voters do not necessarily work on Gen-Y Singaporeans. The PAP’s attempt at connecting with Gen-Y voters in the form of Tin Pei Ling is a flop compared to the National Solidarity Party’s Nicole Seah.

For GE2011, the increased numbers of Gen-Y voters compared to the previous elections might provide the crucial swing votes that may tip close fights either way.