Two for the price of one. The PAP candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon, for the recently vacated constituency of Punggol East is promising that he will still serve the constituency in the unlikely event of not being elected. That's what all candidates seem to be promising nowadays. If you win, you serve, if you don't win, you'd still want to serve. Happened in Potong Pasir constituency where the PAP slogged for 30 years as a non-representative before narrowly wresting it back from the Singapore Democratic Party/Singapore Democratic Alliance in 2011. I suppose the electorate needs to be wooed, not just with carrots for today but the entire carrot farm. People just don't like "professional parachutist" who come by to win elections but otherwise cannot be seen nor heard. Happened in Hougang constituency too. Mr Desmond Choo promised to continue serving the residents even after his defeat at the polls last year. I am sure both men are sincere, and that's a bonus for the electorate. So does it matter anymore if the PAP candidate wins at all?
But of course. Singaporeans are not dumb. It has been demonstrated many times over that a PAP MP is best able to erect buildings such as community spaces, hospitals, sports complexes, wet markets and the like at greater speed and certainty than any opposition party candidate can. They don't have to content with dirty tricks blocking their way. Don't get me wrong. I am not urging voters to vote PAP in the Punggol East by-election on 26 January 2013. I am not writing about a situation that has not already been practiced and proven elsewhere. It is just a fact of life in Singapore for years now. That's the benefit of having been in power for so long. The civil and social infrastructure virtually belongs to one party - the PAP, so much so that the PAP cannot see it being used, nor shared, by any other party, never mind that tax-payers' money enabled these to be realized in the first place. The AIM-AHTC saga has demonstrated this.
So the opposition parties have their work cut out for them. And from the look of things, every opposition party wants a piece of this pie. They can use this platform to blow their trumpets but not necessarily to win. So when you know that the chance of winning is slim, you don't need to shy away. Take the opportunity to hold rallies, trumpet your policies, reach out to people, blast the competitors and prepare for 2016 when the next GE is scheduled to be held. The people of Punggol East appear to have been quite happy with the performance of its last PAP MP. Why would they want to change, anyway? It is really local bread and butter issues that most electorates are concerned about, not freedoms of expression and greater opposition representation in Parliament and the like. But who knows the minds of the electorate?
But strange things can happen...stay tuned.