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Parliament Dissolved!! – Singapore’s First Election Without LKY Set On 9/11



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Aug 26 2015
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Lee Hsien Loong administration is seeking a fresh mandate from voters, after President Tony Tan Keng Yam agreed to a request and dissolved the 12th Parliament of Singapore today (Aug 25, 2015). Nomination Day has been set on September 1 and Polling Day will be on September 11 (Friday), which will be a public holiday.

 

While the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), in power for more than 50 years, is widely expected to keep its overwhelming majority in the 89-seat parliament, this will also be Singapore’s first election without her founding fatherLee Kuan Yew – who died in March. Although this will be the country’s 12th general election since independence, it’s actually the 17th in Singapore.

Lee Kuan Yew - 1923 - 2015

There are 2,460,977 eligible voters for this General Election, which is an increase of 110,720 from the 2011 polls. The latest 2015 electoral boundaries report shows that there will be 13 Single-Member Constituencies (SMCs), six 4-member Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs), eight 5-member GRCs and two 6-member GRCs for a total of 89 parliamentary seats.

 

Three of the SMCs are new – Bukit Batok, Fengshan and MacPherson. There will be two new GRCs – Jalan Besar and Marsiling-Yew Tee. Fourteen (14) MPs have announced their retirement, with the PAP introducing 11 new faces – including former Chief of Defence Ng Chee Meng, who will be fielded in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

Lee Hsien Loong

At the last election in 2011, the PAP, which was founded by the late Lee Kuan Yew, won its lowest-ever vote share, at 60.14%. Nevertheless, PAP grabbed 81 seats while opposition Worker’s Party took the remaining 6 seats. Lee Hsien Loong had until January 2017 to hold an election, but there’re some factors that he could be capitalizing on.

 

First of all, PAP is hoping that the country’s 50th anniversary celebrations as an independent nation could be a “nationalist pride” marketing tool. Secondly, fresh from the demise of iconic figure Lee Kuan Yew, the junior Hsien Loong hopes voters would cast their votes for PAP out of respect. Thirdly, as the city enters growing economic problems, this year could be the best year for election before things turn for the worse.

Singapore_Election_2011_Results_Summary - ver 2

Flashback to 2011 general election (GE) – although PAP won 81 out of 87 seats contested, Singapore registered many firsts. For the first time, PAP had suffered its worst-ever election result since independence in 1965. For the first time, PAP had lost a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) since they were created in 1988.

 

For the first time, the Singapore Parliament have had the biggest opposition presence since independence, thanks to opposition Worker’s Party (WP) who had managed to capture Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) as well as retained their Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC).

Singapore Election 2011 - PAP Performance - Vote Shares 2006 vs 2011Singapore Election 2011 - Opposition Performance - Vote Shares 2011

And for the first time in 2011 GE, opposition candidates had contested virtually every seat in parliament with the exception of late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s, not to mention social media and the internet were allowed to be used in campaigns. Clearly, opposition had done well primarily due to the effectiveness of social media.

 

There’s little doubt that PAP will win again, not only with simple majority but will dominate with two-thirds majority. Get real, as much as PAP had been shaken by the strength of the performance by the opposition in 2011, it’s absolutely impossible for the opposition to win 30 seats, the minimum needed to deny PAP of its traditional two-thirds.

How Singaporeans Calling The Next Election - Poll Dec 2014

Opposition Worker’s Party earlier announced that its existing seven MPs will be defending their seats, after it revealed on July 26 that it would be fielding 28 candidates in five GRCs and five SMCs. The other eight opposition parties have stated their intention to ensure that the PAP will be challenged in all 29 constituencies.

Singapore Government Satisfaction Trends - Poll Dec 2014

However, Potong Pasir SMC appears to be heading for three-cornered fights with independent candidate Tan Lam Siong to go against Singapore People’s Party and PAP candidate. Although the opposition parties are not as lucky as their counterpart from Malaysia in terms of federal government’s scandals to toy with, PAP could lose more seats than the 2011 GE.

Protester - Singapore for Singaporeans

Key election issue is still about influx of foreign workers and immigrants, which has seen the population surge from 4.17 million in 2004 to power to 5.47 million last year. The middle-class Singaporeans are complaining that the newcomers are competing with them for jobs and housing and straining public services like mass transport.

 

PAP has since become less arrogant after the 2011 GE. Prior to calling for the snap election, Lee Hsien Loong unveiled a set of goodies for Singaporean employees and families. Government grants for public housing were increased, while employers will be mandated to offer workers re-employment contracts until the age of 67 instead of 65 currently.

Singapore Foreign Workers

To fish for votes, Mr Lee also boosted the city-state’s cash bonus schemes for parents of newborn babies and increased government-subsidized paternity leave to two weeks from one week currently. But will Singaporeans choose to send a more powerful opposition to the parliament anyway, considering they can actually triple the number of opposition members yet will not be enough to destroy PAP’s two-thirds majority?

 

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