Sunday, May 07, 2006

The people have decided

Yesterday's polling results announcement was a snappy affair. The Parliament before and after the polls will be little changed, with both Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chiam See Tong retaining their seats with increased margins, especially Mr Low. The people of Hougang and Potong Pasir did not bite the multi-million dollar carrot dangled in front of them by the incumbent PAP at the last minute through no less than the Senior Minister himself, Mr Goh Chok Tong. I suppose loyalty counts for more than money for residents in these two wards. Money politics has not proven to be very effective. On the other hand, the PAP may have weakened its moral high ground through its 'pork barrel' tactics. There would most likely be people who voted PAP because of these 'pork', but the numbers are not big enough to make a difference.

Steve Chia will lose his NCMP seat because the WP's Aljunied team polled about 42% to his 39%, so he is not the best loser this time around. As to who in the WP Aljunied team will take the NCMP seat is yet to be seen. I don't think there is a precedent for this. It is probably up to the WP's CEC to decide which of the 5 team members in the GRC team will take up that position. Perhaps Sylvia Lim, as the leader. Some would salivate at the Gomez option, given his penchant for controversy, but its just speculation at this time. In any case, the WP has taken a small step in making more of its voice heard in Parliament with two members. This augurs well for them and for greater representative democracy in Singapore.

The sweetest victory must have been for Mr Chiam, the man SM Goh has callled old and by implication past his use-by date. Many in Potong Pasir did not agree, with slightly more weighing in this time for the 'old' warhorse. It seems that the residents of Potong Pasir are a resilient and loyal lot, who are not easily swayed by last minute 'goodies'.

The net result is that the political landscape in Singapore is little changed. The Progress Package has not worked any magic in gaining greater support for the PAP, if that was one of its intent in the first place. The people gained both ways - they got the money (many would say 'their' money) and they got to vote for their candidates (at least the 1.2m whose wards were contested). The results show that the choice has changed little from the last elections. Although the total share of votes for the PAP has gone down to 66%, it is still higher than the share two elections back. With a booming economy, this is to be expected. But the PAP must realise that roughly one third of the people in all contested wards support the Opposition now.

The greatest failure (and conversely the greatest success for the PAP) is the SDP. Both teams garnered a shave above the 20% required to keep their candidates' deposit of $13,500 each. SDP is now a spent force due to the mis-management and disunity of its leaders, Chee Soon Juan and Ling Howe Doong. With a lawsuit hanging over their heads, there is more drama to come for the SDP. It is no wonder that people deserted them in droves.

Its been an exciting time. One would have wished the Opposition had won a GRC to increase its representation in Parliament and prove that a GRC is not beyond them. The WP came close. Whether the Gomez affair cost them the GRC will be a subject of debate post-elections. If it did, then Wong Kan Seng will be justified in his tactic of putting doubts into Singaporean's minds regarding Gomez's integrity and suitability for Parliament. However, I feel that that is giving too much credit to WKS. More likely, the PAP Aljunied team is well liked and hardworking, so credit where credit is due.

WP's 'gan shi dui' acquited themselves well in taking roughly a third of the people in the PM's own backyard. This team of WP GRC candidates are hardly over 30, and for them to carry about 30% of the votes against the PM's is a credit to them. I think the WP should pat themselves on the back this time. Next time, these people will be more experienced and perhaps more ready to fight a more successful battle.

That's Vote Singapore 2006, out.

1 comment :

kicky said...

I cannot agree with you more! Kudos to Workers' Party. Kudos to Singaporeans waking up!