There's been a lot of discontent ever since Ms Tin Pei Ling was fielded as the youngest candidate from PAP; and that famous "Kate Spade photo" circulating on the internet certainly didn't help with her popularity.
I do not dislike Tin Pei Ling although I think she's a weaker candidate compared to some others. I really don't think she is as stupid as most people think she is but I'm just not convinced that she really believes in what she says. In fact, I applaud any young person who is willing to step up and serve the people. If we take a step back and look at it, Ms Tin is not very different from the average Singaporean girl of the same age. Many of us do like to indulge in luxury goods when we can afford it. Just because she is running for elections doesn't mean she has to give up everything she likes.
Ms Tin's personal campaign went downhill even before it started, not that it would matter as long as her team achieves overall victory. Political views aside, I feel that a lot of things went wrong for her simply because of the lack of planning in social media management.
What do I mean?
The landscape of political campaigning has definitely changed and while PAP had ample experience in traditional campaigning, they were not necessarily prepared to connect with the voters through social media. In my humble opinion, there are four things that Ms Tin and her team could have done better to avoid the fiasco:
Social media management should start before the election campaign. Using social media is more than just putting up a profile. The PAP should have anticipated that voters would be searching for Ms Tin's information the moment she was introduced as a candidate. Therefore it is important to decide what kind of information to be made available and which is best kept private or deleted. Pictures of branded bags: best kept private. Pictures of candidate carrying a bag of groceries for grandma: display in public folder.
Keep private profiles....private. This is a no brainer, we heard it too many times but failed to heed the good old advice. As a political candidate, there will be people who love you, who hate you, and those who would love to dig dirt out of you before slinging the mud right back at you. Before going out to campaign, wouldn't it make sense to change your privacy settings to limit access to your private information?
Content matters. It's been said that Kate Middleton's dress wasn't more elaborate because she was considerate of the tough economic times and did not want to appear too extravagant. As a political candidate, everything you put online represents you. While Singaporeans are complaining of the rising cost of living and disagreeing with the high ministerial salary, a picture of a future candidate holding a luxury item couldn't have come at a worse time. Pictures of branded bags: delete. Pictures of candidate eating at hawker center or taking MRT: put in public profile. Pictures of candidate carrying baby: Give me a break.
Comments made on social media ARE taken seriously. The social media may not be an authoritative source like the mass media, but people do take comments seriously. As it is, eyebrows were raised over Tin Pei Ling's age and competency, and SM Goh Chok Tong had to rub it in with his tongue-in-cheek (or so he thought) comment that "Young Pei Ling has been traumatized" was counter productive. Thanks for confirming that she's young and can't handle setbacks, which brings us to wonder why you were promoting this candidate.