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5 Reasons Why Workers’ Party May Not Win Punggol East By-Election

Some Singaporeans must be pinching themselves to find out if they are really voting again – not twice but three times.

Many friends have told me that they could not believe having to vote twice within a six-month period - in the recent General Election last year and the Presidential Election this year.

Some of them have only voted for the first time last year as their constituencies have been walk-over all along for many elections.

If you are fortunate enough to stay  in Hougang and Punggol East SMC, you will have the ultimate opportunity of having to vote thrice all within a 2-year period.

You can even walk blind-folded to the voting station if you have to do it thrice!

Nevetheless, the key question on many Punggol East voters’ mind will be – who should I be voting for the second time round?

For PAP supporters,  they will   also be  weighing the issue of Mr Palmer’s extra-marital infidelity and maybe even swing their votes to the WP candidate.

However, many Singaporeans tend to vote along party lines and don’t even remember the MP’s name after a few months!

Michael Palmer was voted into Parliament as an MP with only a slight winning margin  at 54.5% compared to the Workers’ Party candidate Lee Li Lian 41% and the spoiler Mr Desmond Lim gathered only  4.5% of the votes thus losing his election deposit.

General Election 2011: Punggol East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
PAP Michael Palmer 16,994 54.54 N/A
WP Lee Li Lian 12,777 41.01 N/A
SDA Desmond Lim 1,387 4.45 N/A
Turnout 31,158 100 N/A

Source: Wikipedia

I have listed five reasons why WP may not win this by-election even though many Singaporeans have think otherwise:-

1. WP inept performance in Parliament

Singaporeans by and large are disappointed with the WP performance in Parliament though  I can sense the  upsurge in interest  for  opposition party politics.

The WP MPs  are uninspiring, lack a charismatic spokesman among them and generally came unprepared for parliamentary debates.

They are also too quiet during parliamentary debates and lack the fiery oratorical skills of  the late  JB Jeyeretnam or even  Vincent Wijey of SDP.

The recent debacle surrounding the sex scandal case of  ex-Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong also revealed that there could even be an internal split within WP ranks.

Even WP Party chief Mr Low has revealed that it was a tight decision within the CEC when the vote came to expel Yaw from the party thus stripping him of his MP post.

Mr Chen Show Mao non-inclusion in the latest CEC raised concerns that he may be in loggerhead with Mr Low and  that there could be some envy issue  on his vast popularity with the WP supporters.

Some critics have even questioned whether a third party such as the SDP should be brought back into Parliament if the WP continues its ineffective performance in Parliament.

2. Generation X married voters at Punggol East

Punggol East was actually carved out of the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC during the 2011 Election and has about 31, 000 voters.

The ward covers the eastern area of Sengkang.

Sengkang predominantly is filled with  young couples coming in to form neucleus family units and some dwellers  are  also second-timer BTO matured  occupiers who have shifted out of  their old HDB  estate into the young enclave.

I have being to Sengkang quite often as I stay in nearby Punggol and it is a lively  new town with complete facilities for dwellers staying over there.

Moreover, young couples belonging to Generation Y tend to vote for the government especially if they are civil servants.

They won’t want to rock the boat too much and prefer the current status quo.

However, if they are affected by the recent foreign influx and are retrenched or worse  made jobless because of a foreigner replacement, there is every chance that this group may swing their votes to the opposition camp.

Elections are often won when the current voters start to re- weigh their choices again and consider  swinging their votes to the other side  - especially if they have suffer adversely from policies laid down prior to the re-election.

People however generally tend to vote back the particular party of their choice and it takes alot for the person to swing his votes.

Strangely, people may even vote back a particular party that he hates due to many reasons.

For example, I have heard how many elderly folks vote back PAP for fear that their children jobs will be jeopardised!

Voters usually used their left brain to vote i.e. they will think through logically their choices based on many scenarios and then cast their votes.

That probably explains why there may be many supporters seen at certain opposition rallies but still the ruling party will win at the polls as it takes alot more than emotional election speeches to make them change their mind.

Nevertheless, the strong wind of favour is now blowing at the opposition camp as after the recent 2011 General Election, the whole country has been bogged down  by transport woes, human traffic jam, high property prices. sex scandals among top civil servants  and labour mismanagement.

I am pretty sure that if the Prime Minister decides to call for a by-election within this short period, WP has a strong chance to win by a tiny margin of less than one or two percentage points.

The Prime Minister will hopefully have the sensing that this will be the wrong time to call for a by-election as things are pretty messed up currently in our country.

But when is the right time to call for a by-election?

I will envisage  that the PM will probably call for one within a three-month period to appease the growing discontentment among the population for equal rights between the ruling party and the opposition camp.

It is perhaps the right thing to do as the Prime Minisetr wants to be seemed as taking appropriate step to ensure that the Punggol East residents have an MP to serve them.

Opposition parties will also want to be seen as exacting pressure on the Prime Minister to call for a by-election soon.

3. Recessional year

Everyone has being telling me that next year will be recessional.

During bad times, Singaporeans tend to play it safe and vote for the current status quo.

If next year really is a recessional year, our Prime Minister may want to wait a little while and start to call for a by-election when the economy nose-dives.

The ruling party can’t afford another loss to the WP especially after losing Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC – all within a short 8-month period.

Not used to losing elections, the ruling party will want to ensure that they will retain Punggol East SMC during the by-election – by hook or by crook.

Losing Punggol East SMC will be a drastic slap in the face to PAP and provide loads of confidence to the opposition camp.

It will also fuel the notion that the ruling party is really in a downward spiral until a dominant two-party political system is formed.

4. Spoiler

Mr Desmond Lim has indicated that he will contest back the Punggol East SMC by-election.

Mr Lim is seen as the spoiler as he will never win  the by-election however hard he may try.

There is every indication that in a three-cornered fight, PAP will always win as the opposition votes will be splitted within the two other camps.

PAP voters are pretty loyal and won’t want to swing their votes unless something drastic happen to their livelihood.

If Mr Lim withdraws his candidacy and allows a two-party fight, there is every chance that  WP may win or lose by a slight margin.

For the sake of a better opposition representation in Parliament, Mr Lim and other wannabes should consider standing aside and let WP does their work.

5. WP candidate Ms Lee Li Lian

Ms Lee, age 34 years old, is an unknown and if WP fields her again, I wonder if she will be able to win in the by-election on a second ticket.

Ms Lee probably lacks the political clout and experience to be seen as a strong contender for the by-election.

I am also pretty sure that the PAP will want to field someone older and experienced to retain Punggol East.

Some people  have already talk of the PAP bringing back George Yeo to contest in the by-election.

Mr Ong Ye Kung is a strong candidate as well  but the former asst Sec Gen of NTUC has already resigned to join the private sector unless he can be coaxed to re-join politics.

Ms Lee  is a trainer in a private institution and is a deputy webmaster in the WP’s executive council.

I have heard some of her campaigning speeches and she is articulate and polished.

I believe that WP should select someone who is much older in the mould of  the 50-year-old  Hougang SMC MP Mr Png Eng Huat to contest in the by-election.

Voters like to see someone older and experienced so that they have faith and confidence in the person they are voting for.

Mr Palmer has already shakened their confidence in the political  system and they need someone matured and confident to steer them forward.

However, I believe that the PAP voters  are  unlikely to swing their votes too much because their previous MP Mr Palmer has extra-marital infidelity.

Most of them will probably vote along party lines but a steady experienced candidate can mean the difference between winning and losing.

All eyes will be on who WP will field for the by-election – if its Ms Lee again my fear is that she will be too young to provide the confidence necessary to shore up bruised sentiments arose from the failure of  Mr Palmer.

Moreover, I am sure that PAP will want to field a power horse in order to win back not only Punggol East but the confidence of the entire country.

Losing the by-election will be catastrophic for the ruling party – it will be their worse nightmare.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

Reader Feedback

17 Responses to “5 Reasons Why Workers’ Party May Not Win Punggol East By-Election”

  1. asetry says:

    Same as you 100 reson you will never get elected at tampinese grc.

  2. My two cents' comments says:

    Loan Nicole Seah from NSP to contest Punggol East if there is a By-Election. Chances of winning triple folds. Just crack a joke to start my sharing.

    I fully agree with Gilbert. If WP fields Ms Lee again, they can forget about winning. Absolutely no chance at all. You need to bring in a heavyweight candidate.

    I read that Benjamin Pwee has indicated an interest to contest as an Independent Candidate. He is someone of good substance and quality. If WP can find someone equivalent to Benjamin’s quality, then perhaps they can put up a good fight. Otherwise no point wasting time. Someone in the mould of MP Png Eng Huat is also not good enough. With due respect to MP Png, I won’t give my vote to him if I am a voter in Hougang as he does not score highly in my rating.

  3. SDP says:

    Why must Punggol East have exclusive claim by Worker’s Party ?

    WP not being able to win this ward in last election means they need to step aside, make way for men like Chee Soon Juan, Wijeysinghe, Tan Jee Say, Kenneth Jeyaratnam, Nicole Seah etc.

    This is the best time for Chee to get into Parliament on a single seat ward.

  4. J Y says:

    I think Tan Jee Say has a high chance as an independent candidate. Maybe WP can give up the fight for TJS to enter parliament.

    The other alternative is for Tan Cheng Bock to contest as an independent candidate.

    I think WP should give up their fight to contest if they cannot find someone better than TJS or TCB. In this case, all the opp parties should band together to support either TJS or TCB.

  5. Anon says:

    I forecast that Punggol East voters will still vote back PAP.

    The only reason is due to Reason No. 2 — most residents are between 20-40 years old, at the prime of their working life, with young children. They are mostly employed with ok/good salaries due to the relatively strong economy for past few years. They want the status quo and do not want to rock the boat.

    Furthermore, most of them bought their flats in the last 10 years. They want to see their flat prices continue to increase. This is even more so for those who bought resale in the last few years at high price. No matter how idiotic the idea, people instinctively will vote PAP if they recently bought property.

    Sinkies vote for selfish reasons, and this is why PAPies will retain Punggol East.

  6. sputz says:

    I doubt the matter is as clearcut as you make it out to be. There is a LOT of unhappiness going around. And over a Large number of bread and butter issues.

    Also, soon, people are going to be hit by an even higher rate of inflation. In case you haven’t noticed, prices of a Large number of items have risen in the last few weeks. They are expected to go up even more in 2013.

    We have also been exposed full blast to the incoherence of too many PAP MPs. Better to keep your mouth shut like WP then let everyone confirm that you’re a fool.

    I doubt the PAP would be stupid enough to ask George to stand. His promises made at the last election have all been hollow. Anyway, what did he actually do for anyone while he was a minister? Besides encouraging it to have the casinos that is.

    Ong Ye Kung made a mess of SMRT and then washed his hands of it. You reckon people will vote for him? Does Ong have a personality, btw?

    If Tan Jee Say has a brain, he should not stand. Has he been working the ground, any ground, anywhere, in the last 18 months? At least Kenneth J has been in the news.
    Dunno about his winning any one over though. TJS and Cheng Bok are not part of WP.

    Anyway, all this discussion is pointless. WP is Not going to let some other party have a go at it. WP does Not co-operate with other parties. Full stop!

    As for Desmond, he should consider making a donation to charity with the deposit he will lose again. Des, babes, the govt has more than enough. That’s why it can allow Temasek to make so many losing bets without a whimper.

  7. sputz says:

    Contrary to the confidence expressed here, there is worry in the PAP camp over losing Punggol East, or winning it with an even lower percentage of votes than Palmer managed to squeeze by. See TRE.

    TWO meet the pple sessions a week!!! Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean himself taking one of them.

    Dear me, is that fear that I smell? (sniff…) Hmmm, definitely a strong whiff of hypocrisy.

    Wonder how long the extra effort will be put in before the residents are left to fend for themselves again. Till the PAP wins a bye there? What do you think?

  8. sal says:

    I prefer Dr Chee SJ, to get into the Parliament and debate/ questions the gov on real issues….hope he will be in the by election…All the best.

  9. Sye says:

    Within a 6 month period??? The President Election is long over

  10. Mata Puteh says:

    I am surprised at the number of speculations as who will win in Punggol East should a bye-election be called. Many opinions are based on gut feeling and unless you are an Houganite or a resident in Aljunied, you will not be hitting at the right target! If you see the last elections in 2011 and the recent bye-election in Hougang, you will note the voters come from all walks of life but one common aim, which is to dislodge the PAP. Yaw and Png were neither strong candidates in terms of experience or education. Yet they won. In Aljunied, Georgie Boy and his entourage were strong, had influence in the community centres and even in the middle class stronghold of Serangoon Gardens. This is the area where many civil servants live including retired teachers, principals etc. Yet, the PAP knew one week before the election that they would most likely lose.
    Why, because the voters were fed up. Now, the fervour is no different, even in Punggol East where many houganites have relatives, and friends living there. The proximity to Hougang and Aljunied will have a deep influence in the voting patterns.Are you aware that in the recent bye-election, many who came over to cheer and support the WP were from the Punggol area?
    It is therefore left to be seen what is going to happen and if the WP had been making the rounds as well as their popular influence in the area, why not let them take on the PAP again?

  11. sal says:

    Its good to have another party view, as SDPs affordable housing policy can be debate in the parliament…and Dr Chee SJ is a person who willing to help local Sporeans in daily issues.

  12. [...] thus he cannot do his job well. – Support Site for the Unemployed & Underemployed: 5 Reasons Why Worker’s Party May Not Win Punggol East By-Election – Sgpolitics.net: Extreme lack of scruples on the part of People’s Association and the mass [...]

  13. YourFriends says:

    Suggest to keep politics out of Transitioning.
    Thank you.

  14. sal says:

    But becos of bad policies….that affect the local Sporeans. Why now you can hear about local Sporeans suffer not in the 80s or 90s?

  15. 505 Botak Lim says:

    Mr Lim is seen as the spoiler as he will never win the by-election however hard he may try. He should stand aside and do many other things that will benefit the Poorer and senior Singaporeans if he relly has the ‘Extras’

  16. Sinkie pawned Sinkie says:

    Looks like Gilbert make the wrong assumption.

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