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Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Social Media and Oppositions Parties: Networking.

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Presentation on theme: "Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Social Media and Oppositions Parties: Networking."— Presentation transcript:

1 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Social Media and Oppositions Parties: Networking for Singapores General Elections Dr. James Gomez Deputy Associate Dean (International) Senior Lecturer & Head of Public Relations Monash University james.gomez@monash.edu

2 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Political Communication Opposition Parties operate in an one-party state. Mainstream media is either indirectly owned by the PAP government or those close to it. Opposition parties are denied equally access to the mainstream media. Opposition parties are subjected to the PAPs constant negative campaigning (via mainstream media), both during and in-between elections.

3 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Opposition Parties & the Internet in Spore I Started in mid 90s with non-interactive websites where users were limited to the passive viewing of information on the internet (one-way information dissemination of party news and view points on issues). Static - Uploaded information about the parties, office holders and candidates, shared photos of their activities, disseminate press releases, news, commentary, texts of parliamentary and public speeches and sent out information via email lists,.

4 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Interactive - Later opposition parties participated in online discussion forums, administered online petitions, used blog software to uploaded podcasts and videos. Collectively these enabled opposition parties to: – promote their agenda, –encourage political discussion and –manage their political identity among key supporters and networks. –Identify, attract, recruit party workers Opposition Parties & the Internet in Spore II

5 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Social Media & Opposition Parties Starting early 2000, opposition parties in Singapore began to operate in an environment where users interact with other users to respond to and change the communication message of online content. Interactivity first came onboard through email and mailing group replies, discussion forums and later via comments features on blogs. Two-way online communication became more pronounced from 2005 when online social media platforms became publically available. Opposition parties and its supporters then began experimenting with Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube and Twitter.

6 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Wikipedia many of the entries for opposition parties were started as stubs around the end of 2004 content for the main opposition parties than grew while information on minor parties remain as stubs Wikipedia entries for opposition parties/key members, in almost all cases, are less substantial, less comprehensive and less visually appealing than information available on their official party websites. Entries of opposition parties/key members are often contested and subjected to change by general users and Wiki editors hence not always reliable in terms of accuracy and breadth.

7 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA YouTube I YouTube came into political prominence in Singapore during the 2006 general elections when bloggers began to post clips of speeches made at opposition elections rallies. This was done in clear defiance of government announcement prior that such posting were against the Parliamentary Elections Act and punishable by law. Since the 2006 general elections opposition parties, its members and supporters have also been using YouTube to post speeches of party leaders, clips of at party events and other related activities during

8 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA YouTube II presently only the SDP and RF have set up a dedicated channel on YouTube. –SDP has the singaporedemocrats channel http://www.youtube.com/user/singaporedemocrats and http://www.youtube.com/user/singaporedemocrats –the Reform Party has set up SGReformPartyTV channel http://www.youtube.com/sgreformpartytvhttp://www.youtube.com/sgreformpartytv

9 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Twitter I the use of Twitter is also part of the post-2006 general election online phenomenon the following parties SDP, NSP, RP and WP had set up twitter accounts the bulk of the announcements on opposition party Twitters are alerts to news and updates on parties website or lists of time and venue of party outreach activities

10 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Twitter II it is expected that during major political events that are of a dramatic nature or during elections, when people want constant updates, Twitter is expected to play a prominent role in Singapore. Its outreach will be dependent on the number of Twitter followers Twitter is now integrated with other platforms such as websites, blogs, free emails sites & Facebook. All platforms can be uploaded simultaneously via SMS.

11 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Facebook in Singapore Of all the social networking sites globally, the most popular is Facebook - in 2010 has 400 million users and about 50% users log on everyday according to the website www.checkfacebook.com the city-state has a country audience of 1,716,320 or 0.54% of the global audiencewww.checkfacebook.com Approximately three-quarters of Singapore Facebook users are above 18 years old, with the largest group being between 18-45 years old

12 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Singapore Opposition & Facebook Singapores active opposition parties have a presence either directly, through their youth wings, via supporters or through members personal accounts on Facebook These include, the National Solidarity Party, Singapore Democratic Alliance, Singapore Democrat Party, Reform Party and Workers Party and some of their lead politicians.

13 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Table 1: Opposition Parties Name No of Members Singapore Democratic Party1115 (376) The Reform Party793 National Solidarity Party (NSP Organising) 833 Workers Party Supporters544 Complied from www.facebook.com on 020710www.facebook.com

14 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Table 2: Youth Wings of Politics Parties Name No of Members Young Democrats (members)714 Young Reformers (supporters)354 Workers Party Youth Wing (fan)724 Complied from www.facebook.com on 020710www.facebook.com

15 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Table 3: Opposition Party Leaders NameNo Chee Soon JuanSingapore Democratic Party 986 (625) Chiam See TongSingapore Progressive Party 160 Low Thia KhiangWorkers Party567 Kenneth JeyaretnamThe Reform Party2623 JB JeyaretnamIn Memory of JB Jeyaretnam 3393 Complied from www.facebook.com on 020710www.facebook.com

16 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Table 4: Selected PAP Facebook accounts NamePosition/TitleNo Lee Kuan Yew Mentor Minister (1 st Prime Minister) 31975 Lee Hsien LoongPrime Minister6527 George YeoMinister of Foreign Affairs 10966 (fan) 4954 (group) Vivian Balakrishnan Minister of Community 4235 (privacy settings) Irene NgMember of Parliament1083 Young PAP (fan)3436 AljuniedGroup Representative Constituency3016 Bishan-Toa PayohGroup Representative Constituency935 Complied from www.facebook.com on 030710www.facebook.com

17 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Table 5: Electoral Issue Pages NameNo Abolish GRC958 Pluralistic Democracy for Singaporeans 948 I am a Singaporean and I want a chance to vote 788 We want live debate between party leader in the next GE in Singapore 1050 Vote for change, vote the PAP out5600 Complied from www.facebook.com on 030710www.facebook.com

18 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Significance of Facebook Political Communications Provide some indication of party membership, support Level of comfort among individuals willing to openly identify with an opposition party or its politician online. Personal profile of key political individuals are often more popular then that of the parties. Individual face book accounts seen to be managed directly by the respective individuals attract more support than those managed on their behalf by supporters.

19 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Faceless on Facebook A rise in the number of faceless FB accounts befriending opposition parties and politicians. These faceless FB accounts are created only for political purposes and only feature friends in the political circle they do not include members from their normal social circle. People with regular FB accounts are still afraid to join as friends of an opposition party. But some are willing to join individual politicians as friends. Others remove themselves as friends from friends who have added or accepted a friend request from opposition parties/politicians. There is a trend both among opposition and PAP to delete friends or their postings from known or faceless FB profiles in an attempt to manage what is posted on their Facebook page.

20 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA The Network Effect During Singapores Next General Elections The number of members joining the various Facebook pages of political parties and key party figures will increase in the run up to the next general elections. Election issue specific pages that will be set up in the run up and during elections whose numbers is expected to swell dramatically Volume of postings and like on these Facebook accounts will also spike during this period. With the cooling of period legislation passed, more online activity during cooling off day can be expected to take place via Facebook because of its `closed` nature.

21 Asian Studies Association of Australia 18th Biennial Conference 2010 THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA Conclusions If in the last elections it was blogs, Facebook is will be the online platform to watch in the next general elections scheduled to take place by February 2012. Blogs and websites will play a role, but their role will be complemented by FB where the bulk of the information integration and dissemination will take place in the form of micro blogging via twitter through mobile 3G devices. While in the Singapore case the use of social media tools by opposition parties and its key figures are relatively modest, it is nevertheless has become part of their strategic outreach communications that they will use in the next elections.


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