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Wednesday September 24th 2014

Workers’ Party sizzling victory at Punggol East by-election – a tight slap in the face for PAP?

I woke up at 4am for my usual pee routine last night  and realised that I have a series of text messages.

“WP have won!” one message screamed at me timed 1230 am.

I couldn’t sleep well after knowing the shocking news and felt the goose pimples crawling round me as I scrolled open more messages.

“WP won by 11 percent majority votes!” someone texted me.

You meant WP won by just ten votes? I pondered. How lucky…

I checked and found out later  that actually WP won by 10% of the majority votes i.e. more than 3000 over votes!

I nearly fell off my chair…

This is a shocker as many of us have predicted that it would be a close fight and whoever win would do so   by less than 3 – 4 per cent of the total votes casted.

For the record,  WP garnered 54.5% of the total votes casted against PAP’s 43.7%.

WP also gained a total of 13.5% of the swing votes from GE 2011′s 41 per cent to last night showing  of 54.5% – all within a mere 18 months and without really having to walk the ground too much.

More significantly, the overwhelming  victory showed that Singaporeans are warming up to the Workers’ Party as the most trusted credible opposition party and would vote for anyone whom they have placed.

The victory was also significant as it has busted the myth that in a 4-corner by-election battle, PAP would have the upper hand but clearly this time round WP has provened otherwise.

Even the Prime Minister must have thought of a clear imminent victory as he confidentally called for a snap by-election barely a month after expelling the disgraced Michael Palmer from the single ward.

Singapore was still embroiled in the AIM town-council fiasco then and many Singaporeans were slightly surprised that the PM has  called for a by-election so soon.

Five opposition parties have expressed interest in the ward when Michael Palmer was fired from his seat and according to the recent Presidential Election,  when  more than two parties are contesting, the votes – especially those from the opposition would be splitted as they would vote for their respective favourite party.

So when SDP withdrew from the by-election race few days before  nomination day, our PM must be worried as SDP is getting very popular now and they could prise away at least 15 – 20 percent of the opposition votes meant for the Workers’ Party.

Let us hope that SDP will win a GRC in the next general election for putting Singaporeans’ interest  first here!

Still the confidence was there as Reform Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance continued to join in the by-election battle and I am sure that the ruling party  hoped that these two political minnows could pull away some of the opposition votes resulting in a slim victory for PAP.

This was not to be and we knew  the rest is history now.

The Punggol East by-election defeat is a tight slap in the face for the ruling party and clearly showed that  the yearn for political plurality has not waned.

The spill-over effects of GE 2011 have continued unabated and my take is that if the next general election is held soon, PAP may lose more seats as the wind of change is blowing very vigoriously now and showing no sign of slowing down.

Given the recent change in political circumstances, it is envisaged that the ruling party will have no chance to hold on to their usual dominance in parliament and will eventually have to share power with another party resulting in a two-party parliament in future.

There is also talk of the ruling party falling out of power in less than 15 years’ time ie within three general elections as so far in the world no political party has managed to rule for more than 50 years.

This is ominous news for the ruling party  and I am sure that a solemn post-mortem will be called soon by the PM.

So, will  the ruling party may now  try to delay the next general election to the last few months for fear of the inevitable or only do so when factors are seen clearly  in it’s favour e.g a looming recession?

Will they now change tact and decide to go after popular concessions in the hope of gaining back some lost ground just 18 months after the recent general election?

As for this by-election, many analysts have  predicted a slim victory for PAP  as the younger generation of couples staying in Punggol East would not rock the boat too much by voting for the opposition  as at stake are their property valuation and  housing amenities -  things that mattered to any new couples having their first nest.

Never in their wildest dream would the PAP imagine that they could lose Punggol East and in such a decisive manner.

This is one by-election that PAP could not afford to lose as it would mean the total loss of confidence in the government  and more seriously even within the party echelon itself as it tries very hard to make amends after the disastrous GE 2011.

In his midnight press conference, WP chief Mr Low Thia Khiang spoke for many Singaporeans when he said these words:-

“Although many policies have been reviewed and the government has been working towards that, the result shows that the effect has not really  trickled down to the ground and people still feel the pressure of the high cost of living and many other things as well.”

The ruling party has also not done much to tighten the influx of foreigners as the inflow still continues after GE 2011  abeit in  slower measure.

The influx of foreigners has led to many other adverse consequences for Singaporeans viz-a-viz unfair competition for jobs and the sky-high property prices as permanent residents continue to bid aggressively  for resale HDB flats.

As for me, I have to eat my words as all along I have doubted that WP would win the Punggol East by-election due to the 4-cornered fight syndrome and tendency of the younger couples to vote for the ruling party out of practical reasons.

However, I am very happy that I was provened wrong than right this time round!

And yes – the by-election was lost because  people are not happy with the many policies of the ruling party even though PAP has claimed that voters would vote to choose an MP and not the  party this time round as the government is already intact.

I am pretty sure that in future by-election the same effect will take place i.e. voters choosing an opposition MP over the one from PAP unless things have improved drastically.

 Written by: Gilbert Goh

Reader Feedback

7 Responses to “Workers’ Party sizzling victory at Punggol East by-election – a tight slap in the face for PAP?”

  1. Dico says:

    You may not need to wait for 15 years for the PAP to topple.

    LHL’ leadership is already in serious doubt with this kind of result. He was placed on the throne by his father and not by true popular support and his arrogance was not well received by many. Don’t forget the S. Dhanabalan incident.

    Old man may not be able to last till the next election. Old man’s demise will spell big trouble for PAP as there will be challenges to LHL’s leadership or even a split within the party.

    The split is already showing with Tan Cheng Bock joining the PE and the votes he gets. Many of Tan Cheng Bock’s votes are from PAP grassroots themselves!

  2. J Y says:

    Yes, this by-election result really surprised the majority of us. Many of us thought that PAP would win by a narrow margin even though we hope otherwise.

    I was keeping my fingers crossed when unconfirmed sources said that WP won by 300 votes. I was elated when WP actually won by more than 3000 votes.

    I think our country is getting more and more divisive political-wise. My family is also split between PAP and WP 50-50. But whatever our political affiliations, we still have to live as a family.

    There are definitely many issues that PAP need to solve. The marriage and parenthood package is useless to poor singles.

    What is the use of reducing the cost burden of raising a child when parents don’t have time to spend with their children due to long working hours?

    With parents getting more chilcare leave, does it mean that singles have to do more OT? By asking singles to cover up for colleagues who are parents, singles will have less time to socialise or look for a husband/ wife. This would mean more singles in the future and less babies.

    Hence, the govt don’t seem to regard singles as people who need their help.

  3. charmer says:

    Singapore continues to be the most vibrant and liveable city in the world. Many of us including myself struggle to seek employment and have enough to eat and live well. I am a loyal Singaporean who has served the nation and is willing to do any job from cleaning toilets to acquisition of corporations. Why am I struggling to survive ?

  4. sal says:

    Its not about the value of s person property, its more about bread and butter issue and people happiness. Vote for the party that come out with good policies that benefit the citizens.

  5. lion king says:

    kudo to SDP coz they lured the Dragon into the Lion’s den.

  6. jj@39 says:

    SDP isn’t a popular choice for many S’poreans. WP & NSP are the popular choices for many S’poreans.

    SDP, SPP, RP, SDA all have issues in connecting with S’poreans.

    CSJ public image isn’t good. Chaim is old n suffered a stroke, his wife isn’t on good term with his senior party members. Many dislike KJ & DL from RP & SDA from this byelection.

  7. sal says:

    CSJ and KJ can fight in next election in a SMC and hopefully will gain entry to the parliament where they will debate and scrutinise any policies that affect the citizens.

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