Sunday, May 08, 2011

10:50 AM

GE 2011 results: My views

I stayed up all the way till 3 am this morning to watch the news until the last result was announced. The latest time I have stayed up late at home to date. It was worth it in the end. I wanted to hear the results live, not on the newspapers or recorded speeches.

At 81:6, its the opposition's (or should I say Workers Party) best showing since independence and the days of Barisan Socialis. No doubt, this is a watershed election where a non-PAP party managed to win a GRC. The average vote for PAP at 60.14% is lower then the 2/3 garnered in 2006 and is its lower vote share since independence. The swing has been expected and reasons commented on by others so I won't touch on it.

I chosen a select few of districts to comment on.

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Aljunied GRC:

Congrats to the Workers Party team for getting elected there! Its sad that George Yeo has to leave.

I believe George Yeo is a capable minister. In fact, he is the one of the last few ministers on my list of who to vote out first. It is the PAP's fault that they want to put anchor ministers in each GRC. This may work in the past to deter opposition candidates. But when the opposition becomes powerful enough to challenge GRCs, you cannot say you have to vote the PAP team just because of one minister. When you lose, you lose 5 candidates including several office holders at a go. This problem is PAP's own creation.

If George Yeo is in an SMC, this problem would not arise. Its sad that George Yeo and his team is the first PAP casualty of the GRC system. But this is normal part of democracy and George Yeo is not indispensable. He can still serve as part of the Singapore delegation in foreign affairs to retain his expertise.


I silently hope that the WP team would do their best to make Aljunied a model GRC to prove that opposition candidates can run such large town councils as well. May Aljunied residents not have to repent! If WP fails in its work, I have no disagreement in it being voted out in the next election.

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Hougang SMC:


Expected result. WP is too entrenched in Hougang to vote it out already. I was surprised Yaw could garner a greater percentage of vote than his predecessor. Probably helped by the nationwide 6% swing.

If you see the electoral map, Aljunied GRC nearly surrounds the whole of Hougang. I'm not surprised if the WP team treats Hougang as the 6th constituency of Aljunied. If WP can run this 6 constituencies well, it proves that the WP team can do the same for any other GRC.

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Potong Pasir SMC:

A 50:50 chance ends with an almost 50:50 result. The smallest constituency by electorate yet took the longest to count. Alas, there can only be one winner and that is PAP's Sitoh Yih Pin. He and Potong Pasir residents deserves this victory. He has worked the ground for so long, its time for his reward. Now he has to perform. It will be easier to provide results. All he has to do at the minimum is to revive upgrading plans mothballed since 1984. The opposition representation baton of Potong Pasir has been handed over to Aljunied, its finally time for their much needed upgrading.

In my view, its unlikely Potong Pasir will exist in its current form in the next election. Its electorate at 17000+ is too small to justify its existence. It will be probably be merged into another district relegating the name of Potong Pasir into the memories of Singaporeans as the longest opposition stronghold of 27 years in history. Hougang, I'm looking at you to supercede this.

As to candidate quality, I have to admit Sitoh Yih Pin is the better candidate. Lina Chiam is an election newcomer and from her speeches in the rallies, she does not come across to me as someone with policy debating calibre. I have not heard the live speeches of Mr Sitoh but I salute his perseverance!

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Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC:

Despite Mr Chiam's reputation, age and ill health has caught up with him. People still do give him the utmost respect. But respect is not enough to win votes. Voters are still concerned about what can be done for them. I believe they see his poor health as a disadvantageous factor.

Its true a GRC team is bigger than one man. But he is like the "anchor minister" in a GRC. Its performance can fluctuate with the anchorman's capabilities.

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Marine Parade GRC:

If you were looking at the results live on TV, you would notice that a vote swing chart was provided for all other previously-existent wards except Marine Parade.

My guess is that it is too embarrassing to show. The last election was a by-election held in 1992 where the PAP team won by 72.9%. The swing of 16% is probably the largest in this election.

Its easy to pinpoint the likely causes. The displeasure with Tin Pei Ling's performance, Nicole Seah's popularity and the lesser known fact that Marine Parade GRC sent some of their voters to Aljunied due to cough! cough!. This a real embarrassment to Goh Chok Tong and the PAP as a whole. It may be forced to reconsider before putting candidates like Tin Pei Ling up the election slate again.

Its a pleasant surprise to see that the B team of NSP did better than their A team counterparts. NSP's B team Marine parade got 43.35% while their A team (including party chairman Goh Meng Seng) at Tampines GRC got 42.78%. The Nicole Seah effect is really strong.

It has been suggested in the temasekreview that if Tin Pei Ling contravenes the Elections Act, she will be stripped of the MP position and a by-election will be called. I normally don't read the temasekreview but this idea is not bad though a little extreme. I thing a better, more detailed solution would be:

Get half, more or all of the Marine Parade MPs to resign. This will trigger a by-election. Get a prior agreement with the opposition to not contest which I believe they will oblige. They wont win anyway. Replace Tin Pei Ling with George Yeo and resubmit nomination forms. The resulting walkover will send George Yeo back into parliament as per normal without having to go through campaigning again.

There is even a facebook page on this. This solution is normally unethical but if the PAP does it, it has my full support.

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Joo Chiat SMC and East Coast GRC:

What a close battle especially for Joo Chiat SMC which WP's candidate (48.99%) was a relative newcomer. One can already visualise the "tentacles" of WP extending outwards from its home ground in Hougang. Aljunied already conquered. More to come.

I dunno if the elections department will redraw Joo Chiat and East Coast as it usually does for wards like these. I better hope not. If it does, it will yet be another glaring example of gerrymandering like Cheng San and Eunos GRCs.

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Conclusion:

Its easy to focus on one PAP loss of the GRC and forget that it has won in all other districts except Hougang. It still has a super-super majority to pass constitutional amendments with ease. The opposition parties have to continue working the ground in order to get more seats. In the next election when I can vote for the first time, any decent opposition party/candidate that contests in my district will get my vote until the 2/3 PAP dominance in Parliament is breached.

The Worker Party performed the best among all the opposition parties. Its percentage of votes garnered was not lower than 41% for every ward it contested. This is a party to watch. It could be the eventual centrepoint for the opposition should they decide to merge to form a 2-party system.

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