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Friends of PAP: Organic influence or proxy paid engagement?

Amid speculation of an early election, the ruling PAP has launched the “Friends of PAP” as part of the #RefreshPAP initiative to intensify outreach efforts. Critics question if the initiative represents genuine support or paid political influence. Social media posts by influencers largely showcase positive portrayals of PAP leaders, raising concerns about the authenticity and true nature of these engagements.

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Amid speculation of an early election this year, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has intensified its outreach efforts by introducing new dialogue channels focused on mental health and climate change. This initiative was unveiled at the #RefreshPAP event, marking the conclusion of a six-month effort to revitalize the party.

Announcing the formation of two new groups to address these critical issues, newly sworn-in Prime Minister Lawrence Wong stated at the event that the party is committed to enhancing engagement with Singaporeans. The PAP’s outreach will also be bolstered through its government parliamentary committees (GPCs), which align with various ministry functions.

PM Wong emphasized the significance of this approach: “Our MPs will step up their engagements through the GPCs – we want to engage not just our own activists, but also wider community groups and stakeholders. Our party seeks to be a party that serves all Singaporeans.”

“The PAP strives to be a national movement, not just a political party, but a national movement for Singapore and Singaporeans. Whether you are a corporate organisation, a social service organisation, or an individual, if you have new ideas, or just want to lend a hand, or make common cause for a better Singapore, we welcome you to join us.”

During the event, PAP leaders engaged with local influencers through a new initiative known as ‘Friends of the PAP,’ and social media posts emerged featuring photos of these engagements.

However, little is said about mental health and climate change in these posts, which are the main topics of the 8 June event. Instead, their posts primarily feature joyful selfies and photos with top PAP leaders like PM Wong.

For instance, Yang Yan, an artist under NoonTalk — a Chinese media entertainment company in Singapore — posted, “Meet my Idol / Prime Minister Lawrence Wong,” highlighting his appreciation for being born and raised in Singapore. Similarly, veteran Singapore actress Ann Kok, also affiliated with NoonTalk, shared photos of herself with various PAP politicians, captioned “up close and personal.”

Desmond Lee: Influencers may not agree with everything the PAP does but support its governance efforts

Speaking to the media about the Friends of the PAP initiative, PAP assistant secretary-general Desmond Lee explained that the idea is not new, emphasizing that every political party needs supporters who align with their goals. He highlighted that these individuals may not agree with everything the PAP does but support its governance efforts.

Mr Lee, who is also the National Development Minister, stated that the initiative aims to systematically and extensively engage stakeholders from various sectors and communities who share the PAP’s principles to address major challenges facing Singapore.

He stressed the importance of organizing this network to gather diverse views, generate better ideas, and communicate effectively with Singaporeans amidst evolving societal and global challenges. At the same time, Mr Lee also claimed that the #RefreshPAP initiative is not sparked by the upcoming general election but by the need to adapt to a fast-changing environment.

Despite Mr Lee’s explanation, scrutiny of social media posts under the #RefreshPAP tag raises doubts about the nature of the engagement and outreach program.

Netizens have raised concerns about whether the influencers’ content might function as “sponsored content” from the PAP without proper declaration. There is also scepticism about whether apolitical influencers can effectively engage with and even challenge the PAP on pressing issues affecting Singaporeans, such as the cost of living, housing, and GST.

Rice Media writer Michele Pek discussed these concerns in a commentary piece, pointing out that the Friends of the PAP network is extremely opaque. “No one knows who is being engaged and how they’re having these candid conversations. What are the parameters for an influencer to be kosher enough to be a ‘friend’? Who decides the talking points these influencers are encouraged to push out?”

Govt spends hundreds of millions on social media influencers

Pek’s concerns are not unfounded, given that the Singapore government has admitted to engaging and paying social media influencers to promote government policies.

During a March Parliamentary session this year, Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song, Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, filed a Parliamentary Question (PQ) asking the Minister for Communications and Information whether MCI has a budget for engaging social media influencers.

In response, Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State (SMS) for MCI, acknowledged the practice of collaborating with social media influencers as part of the government’s communication strategy to reach the Singaporean audience.

Mr Tan clarified that although the ministry does not allocate a dedicated budget for social media influencer engagement, influencers may be involved if their efforts complement the broader communication initiatives of the government. “We evaluate the effectiveness of our public communications campaigns, but we do not solely track how influencers fare,” he added.

Following SMS Tan’s response, Mr Giam inquired whether influencers engaged by the government would be mandated to openly and explicitly declare the sponsoring agency in their posts. Additionally, he asked if this requirement would extend to influencers sponsored by candidates or political parties in the elections.

SMS Tan referred Mr Giam to his previous responses to his WP colleagues Ms He Ting Ru, WP MP for Sengkang GRC, and former WP MP Leon Perera during the COS debate for MCI last year.

“He (Mr Perera) was strictly referring to the paid partnership. So I actually told the position that the influencer he mentioned has also put the sponsorship or paid by (and displayed with agencies) logo. So that this has supposedly answered.”

In that COS debate last March,  Mr Perera pointed to an example of a paid ad by SGAG — a Singaporean social media website — on Instagram that was only labeled “#sp”. The Instagram function to show that a post is sponsored was not used in that particular instance, said the former WP MP.

In response, SMS Tan said, “SGAG ads show paid partnership. This is already being done.”

Mr Perera also argued that the advertorials taken by the Singapore government seem to be more aimed at driving people to change their opinion of the Government rather than serving a public interest, which SMS Tan refuted.

SMS Tan also noted in the March 2023 debate that the Government spent between S$175 million and S$200 million, or around 0.2% of total Government expenditure, on advertising in 2022, with about half of the advertising budget used on digital platforms such as Mothership, SGAG, and other small-scale social media platforms.

However, as to Mr Giam’s question on the extension of disclosure requirements to election campaigns, SMS Tan suggested that Mr Giam direct this question to the relevant ministry instead. “I think this is slightly different from the question that you filed under MCI, my proposal is for Mr Giam to file it to the right ministry.”

While SMS Tan clearly states that influencers should promptly declare paid advertising from the government, some may wonder whether there would be unpaid support or publicity for PAP politicians under a mutual understanding during the election.

This could result in a situation where influencers or media platforms need not declare a tied partnership because no money was exchanged for the posts, reminiscent of wild rumors about free or cheap support from contractors — in terms of manpower and logistics — to grassroots organizations for election efforts after winning big projects in town councils.

Moreover, if this is true, it raises concerns about who would investigate the matter or prosecute the violations of possible offences if a complaint is filed, given that the authorities would be the ones facilitating these arrangements.

Redditors highlight PAP’s struggles in understanding the younger generation’s challenges

Observing discussions on Reddit, some suggest that the influencers who attended the #RefreshPAP event are seen as compromising their integrity.

One Redditor labelled an influencer as “a sellout.”

Another observed that the influencers who attended Friends of PAP have a significant portion of their sponsored content involving contracts with ministries and statutory boards, as evident from their social media feeds.

One Redditor questions whether millennials and Gen Z truly dislike the ruling party, given that election results often indicate support for them despite widespread criticism of policies.

Another Redditor suggests that it’s not necessarily dislike but feeling unheard by the government. The comment highlights concerns such as rising costs, job insecurity, housing affordability, and global competition, which are significant issues for younger generations. They criticize a perceived lack of representation and understanding from leaders who are out of touch with these concerns.

The Redditors acknowledge the difficulty the PAP faces in effectively reaching out to and addressing the concerns of the younger population, noting a trend where PAP votes decrease in constituencies with higher proportions of younger voters.

This is a problem the PAP perhaps wishes to address with the help of influencers under the Friends of PAP initiative and to prevent a repeat of what happened at Seng Kang GRC.

 

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liang por por always make me laugh. LOL

Can you see PLP’ers working here now? LOL

Did you watch the news?

Guitar man says he gave money to the poor and Singaporeans. tsk tsk tsk

Well paid & well taken care of papee ass sniffers are those doing well it is the cable connection that matters,the rest will be frogs sitting in the warm papee cesspool slowly cooked.

Does he knows climate vouchers cannot buy energy savings fans like dc motor fans, LED energy saving devices like color TVs, etc etc ?

Please dun send unnecessary msg. I am not a frenz of Pap administration and it’s corruption. I am not under their media so that they can use ppl as headcount for their unnecessary wayang show.

They cannot even reply what I say but only ignore ppl and override on ppl rights. I dun need to say it daily if you refuse to listen!!!

Lawrence Wong oso play same game as Loong. Go visit Tampines for what … O use Ling entity against my family. Same political game as Loong cos the master mind behind. No?!?

I made my stand very clear. I am not Black or White or Red. You overlords are the source of greed and chaos in this world by stealing lying and warmongering!!!

This is GOOD FOR YOU (pineapple lovers):
1) Increase GST
2) Increase PUB utilities
3) Increase COE, ERP
4) Increase Food Prices
5) Increase Housing prices
6) Increase Cost of Living
7) Increase Transport fares
8) Increase Hospital and Medical costs
9) Increase Foreigners intake, increase job losses
10) Increase Prices on Chicken, Eat Fish
11) Increase in Ageing population, collect carton boxes, a good form of
exercise. 
12) Failed 2 Child Policy
13) $1000 salary can afford HDB
14) Someone said heart surgery ” $8″
We need solutions not price increase!!!! What do you think?

Last edited 29 days ago by john lim

Neither do I serve a self serving group of elites in PAP who whole day only wanna sell their CPF scam system. I said it. You ppl refuse to change nor do the right things . Only wanna create wars to purge those not in line with your suck systems!

Singtel, release me from your cult game. Dun lie about it and want me to change Telco to invade my ling. Serve the nation Not your bloody cult. Made me pay so much with no better terms in service!!!! Blood suckers!!!!!

I am not a slave of Yang or Loong who need ppl to worship. I dun worship you Lee familee!!!

Are these really friends of the Pappies? They were invited to meet LW and gang. So they just took selfies and will be posting in on social media to increase their network. Hope the event is paid from the PAP party funds and not taxpayers’. LW said he wants to serve all Singaporeans. He should start with removing the GRC system as it infringes on the rights of the minorities.It is a human rights violation. It reflects poorly on all PAP party minorities who participated in the GRCs in past years. How could they betray their own communities by ensuring… Read more »

Shanmugam should label these influenzas as ‘agents of the PAP’ 🙂 You know, so that Singaporeans will be appropriately vaccinated and be safe from “infection”.

The more head count the better for them … A ring of protection for the overlords . No?!?

Just like how the Loong claim I owe them a lala girl just becos I say no. If they dun get their way they can purge and if they get their way. They have a lala girl to manipulate. No?!? Else entangle until I am purge then they approach their lala girls. No?!? So keep spawning non stop. No?!?

They will admit their tactics?!?

2 different groups of ‘actors’ hanging out with each others.
Schmoozing to cultivate future gains.
Nothing more.
Friends?
Try debating your disagreement openly, and see how far your ‘friendship’ go!

Trumps all time favourite when things are against him – WITCHHUNT.

This PAP Administration has been on Witch Hunts for many many many years.

And they meander and meander and meander to make Singaporeans as BIG BIG blur blobs.

They have PA, they have grassroots, they hv Res Committees, east west RC Committees , they have MAYORS, REACH, Forward SG – YET ALL THESE USELESS tee’s CANNOT CON-NECT and REFRESH??

Cited as the bridge of connectivity to it’s people, the PA with it’s limitless and “no need to account for” budget, … that instantly doubles, if not triple up in the event of a GE or BE, … oso not enough !!! And what do greedy gits naturally do, they want more, and so they’ll evolve even more entities, … to add to their oredi colossal array of “machinations of propaganda and pure self promotion” !!! All paid for, by blank cheques, … given to them by the majority on the island !!! Not content with their unashamed mantra, ..… Read more »

PAP Administration has CREATED a Bloody Wide GULF between their promises and actions, in all SG matters BS, Gulf inclusiveness AMONG Foreigners WITH Sheeps, Among Sheeps themselves, Between For Trash and Local sheeps, AND NOW come Out with a MAGICAL SMOKE to Refresh and Reconnect.

WTF TRYING TO BS MORE AND MORE. Don’t they have VARIOUS weapons that already Effectively CONNECT them, like POFMA can instantaneously CONNECT the bad opinion drivers for eg. And they know the very instances bad fellas fell into their focuses.

How COME Keppel Bribery and Ridout Scandals did NOT CONNECT the PAP with people’s unhappiness?

Actor Liang por por not there? tsk tsk tsk

Connect with Refresh PAP :

PAP refreshed?
PAP refreshes?

1. Means NO Announcement of INFLATION REDUCTION plans?

2. Means NO Announcement of IMPROVEMENT of Lives of Sheeps?

3. NO Announcements of MORE AFFORDABILITY to Flat Rentals, DECAYING MORTGAGES?

4. NO PLANS to RAISE TFR?

5. NO PLANS to improve Productivity?

JUST RECONNECT? JUST REFRESH?

The so call Friends of PAP are just Singapore PAP government supporters who come out and give praises to Singapore PAP government and cheer for the PAP, shouting PAP win win PAP win win,more BAD years.

Its more like one feeding off the other.

Why need mils $$$ to pay influencers to sell PAP?
Their popularity is sliding and they know it they cant stand on their own strengths and merits anymore.
Is that Taxpayers’ money or from each ministar’s own pockets?🙄😏

What can I one expect???? These influencers are very dependent on the mainstream media for their income. No??? The party knew that the influencers can help in propagating their brainwashing regime on those lot who are easily swayed by their antics fueled in tandem by occasional free handouts (indirectly tax payers’ money) through the various organs of PAP The discerning ones who know of their hidden and sometimes sinister intent will steer away from such antics. Sad to say we have among us many who will get ecstatic to simply be with such idols/VIPs. To say that they are stupid… Read more »

China’s show business was very young but has improve significantly .

陽洋 one of the actor .

I follow Chinese show many many years ago .

I prefer the latest than the 70s shigapore show .

I would also buy a BYD to a Proton .

So part of the Tax Payer $ ended up in some pockets .

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