Push and pull factors behind GE results

While we reflect on the results of the 2015 General Election ("8 reasons for surge of support"; Sept 13), we could also examine the cumulative effect and correlation of "push and pull factors".

In the psychological theory of motivation, push motivations are those where people push themselves in avoidance of pain, for example, the desire to get away from overwork, to relax and recharge.

In this instance, it was the need to avoid the pain of the cost of living, predominantly the cost of healthcare and housing, the pain of losing one's job to foreign workers, and the pain of not being able to access one's Central Provident Fund savings.

The quest to remove these social and economic pains can be an incredible and powerful push towards action.

But once the pain is removed, the motivation usually goes away.

In this case, the slew of social and economic measures, including MediShield Life, the Pioneer Generation Package, housing availability and housing grants, and capping the number of foreign workers, could have mitigated these pains.

While pain may still linger, citizens have seen how proactive "remedies" were put in place by the Government, following the expression of dissatisfaction in the 2011 election.

Pull motivation is the opposite of push and is much stronger.

While the push factor for job burnout is to escape to a location to relax and recharge, the tranquillity of the destination is a powerful pull factor.

Similarly, the PAP's track record and its values of character, integrity and honesty are powerful pull factors that the electorate cannot ignore or do without, amid our desire for stability, efficiency and progress.

The all-out contest in the election saw opposition parties pushing hard about the "pains" of the citizenry.

Unfortunately, it was a hard sell, aggressive and forceful; a potpourri of ideas without defining references and parameters.

Their arguments were about the "journey", or the push for reform, but very little about the destination - where would the argument bring us?

SG50 is a milestone for Singaporeans, a defining reference and a hard-fought destination, from which we can confidently move forward towards SG100 for our children.

Chow Kok Fai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2015, with the headline 'Push and pull factors behind GE results'. Print Edition | Subscribe