Monday, 14 September 2015

GE2015: Election Reaction

PAP'S GE 2015 Success: Call it the LHL landslide
The GE 2015 results, a turning point for PAP, are a testament to PM Lee Hsien Loong's mettle
By Ken Jalleh Jr, The New Paper, 13 Sep 2015

Friday became another reason to remember 9/11.

For the opposition and their supporters, it will be remembered as a tragic rejection of their hopes, ideals and manifestos.

For one man, it was a turning point.

In a year of round-figure jubilation, of renewed sentiment for our founding father, Singapore voters returned, warmly, overwhelmingly, to the embrace of the People's Action Party (PAP).

It was a momentous reversal of a decade-long downward trend in the PAP's popularity.

But look beyond the numbers and you realise that it was, at heart, a thumping mandate for one man who put himself, his leadership and his reputation on the line.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's frontline fight was a perilous ploy.

The 63-year-old was in your face, front and centre, on lamp posts all over Singapore, on TV almost daily, on rally stages in opposition wards.

Lose more seats, and his leadership would have been in question.


He now affirms his legitimacy to lead - both the party and the country.

The result - 69.86 per cent for PAP - "exceeded expectations", said PM Lee yesterday.

With the big GE 2015 issue unequivocally settled, three questions become pertinent:

- What now, Workers' Party (WP)? Retreat, push on, or pout?

- How now, for hopes of alternative voices and fears that the PAP, bolstered by a vote of confidence, would be emboldened to do as it pleases, no matter how unpleasant?

- Why now? Was the swing a result of PAP's feel-good shift in social policies, new goodies and SG50?

Or sentiments stirred by the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew?

Or fears over town council management and an uncertain future?

Or a sense of security in retaining the status quo?

Now the sacred slips of the ballots have been tallied and the bookies, so cocksure, so misguided, so wrong, are left to count their losses and curse their calculators.

The swing in PAP's favour flies in the face of unprecedented turnouts at opposition rallies.

It comes at a time when online acrimonious chatter against the PAP was at its loudest - brash, bold and belligerent.

"The silent majority" is a phrase borne of irony. Popularised by disgraced US president Richard Nixon, the phrase began life in the 19th century as a reference to the dead.

On Friday, the silent majority in Singapore rose and, with the simple gesture of casting a ballot, roared in numbers too great to ignore.

In supposedly new-normal Singapore, voters opted for business-as-usual.

Looking back on the boisterous fervour of support at opposition rallies and, in the light of the yesterday's result, a Hokkien saying comes to mind: Ho kwa, boh ho chiak (looks good, tastes lousy).

Rallies as a measure of voter support? Rubbish.

Social Media as barometer of popular sentiment? Bah, humbug.

Then there was the emotional factor, which some among the opposition milked for all it's worth: Perceived past persecution by the PAP and the lopsided playing field.

Yet Mr Lee emerged triumphant.



A measure of a man lies in the demons he has had to tame, then overcome, in the past.

Consider what he has gone through: Two bouts of cancer, the death of his first wife early in his marriage, the loss of a GRC under his watch, the death of his dad less than six months ago.

Anyone who has ever experienced or known someone who has battled cancer would know the courage it takes to fight death, bounce back, and move forward.

Perhaps that explains his gamble in GE 2015. That behind that easy smile is steel forged in the furnace of physical trauma and emotional pain.

On Tuesday, PM Lee invoked his father's exact words (even mannerisms) at the UOB Plaza rally.

By turning the tide on 9/11, PM Lee seems to have proven his mettle.

His father once famously remarked that, should there be a sense that Singapore was heading in the wrong direction, he would rise from his grave and set things right.

He can now rest, appeased.

So, too, can PM Lee proceed, thoroughly reassured.

The nationwide swing

Results show opposition tide can be 'rolled back'
Policies, PM's popularity, PAP's unique bond with people factors for reversal: Shanmugam
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

After the 2011 General Election, when the People's Action Party's (PAP's) vote share fell to 60.1 per cent, some thought the opposition tide could not be rolled back in the face of rising diversity in the electorate, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

With the results of the 2015 GE, the PAP showed that "indeed the tide can be rolled back and rolled back in a very substantive way", he said.

Speaking ahead of a "thank you" parade in Nee Soon GRC, which the PAP retained with 66.83 per cent of the votes against a Workers' Party (WP) challenge, he identified factors that accounted for the pro-PAP swing. These were policies that were not just well crafted but well communicated; Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's personal popularity and ability to persuade voters of the Government's message; and young Singaporeans' vindication of the unique relationship the PAP has with the people that makes Singapore special.

This is "the ability of Government to work with the people, for the people, thinking and planning long-term, but also dealing with short-term issues. That is the unique ability that we have that no one, or very few others, have".

Mr Shanmugam said the swing was also a "significant reversal" in support for the WP - the key reason being that voters cannot be hoodwinked. The WP lost Punggol East to the PAP and retained Aljunied GRC and Hougang, but with slimmer margins. Overall, the WP saw a vote slide across the board, from 40-odd per cent in 2011 to 30-odd per cent now, he pointed out.

"The Singapore public, they are very discerning. You can't hoodwink them. You can't leave a lot of questions unanswered... and go to rallies and say, I have answered all the questions," he said.

"You try that, they will punish you. I think in the voting booth, they went in and thought to themselves, there are lots of questions here that (they) have not answered. And why are they not answering?"

He was referring to questions about how the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council managed residents' funds.

"So many unanswered questions relating to millions of dollars, a refusal to answer in Parliament, and statements from the High Court which are highly critical. These are all in people's minds," he said.

"People won't know details, they won't know (the) ins and outs, they won't know balance sheets. But they know something is wrong... they also know there is constant evasion. And you can't take people for granted. The PAP cannot, and the opposition cannot."

The results were a "vindication" of the PAP's approach, which was to make character, integrity and honesty the fundamental qualities a politician here must have.

The landslide win would not be taken for granted, he said, adding that the mandate should be an occasion for "deep reflection and humility", and an impetus to work harder.

"Because our electorate is savvy, sophisticated. You do wrong things, you will get punished. People know that the PAP will keep on its toes, will be accountable and if it doesn't do either, it can be delivered a very sharp lesson."

Town council issue not a major factor at ballot box: Low
If it was, WP would have lost Aljunied, he says in response to Shanmugam comments
By Amanda Lee, TODAY, 13 Sep 2015

While he does not want to speculate about whether the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council town council issue affected the Workers’ Party at the ballot box, WP chief Low Thia Khiang thinks that had it been a major factor, the party would have lost Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

His comments to TODAY came after Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had posited yesterday (Sept 12) that voters did not get enough answers to the town council issue.

When Mr Shanmugam’s remarks were put to him, Mr Low today (Sept 12) reiterated his response after the results were announced — that the voting pattern showed a nationwide swing to the ruling party.

If the issue did have an effect, it would have been on the residents living in Aljunied or Hougang, as they are “directly under the management of the town council”, said Mr Low.

“So, I suppose if it really affected them so much, we would have lost Aljunied GRC,” he concluded, speaking this afternoon on the sidelines of a thank-you parade in Bedok Reservoir Road and Bedok North.

While he does not want to speculate about whether the AHPETC issue affected The Workers' Party at the ballot box at...
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Sunday, September 13, 2015

The WP won the GRC by a whisker, with a 50.95 per cent majority, in a General Election where the People’s Action Party secured a 69.9 per cent popular vote, up from 60.1 per cent four years ago and its highest since 2001.

In Hougang, WP incumbent Png Eng Huat received 57.69 per cent of the votes.

And given the PAP’s improved score across all 29 constituencies, Mr Low said it was “difficult to assess” the impact of the town council issue on the WP.

When asked whether GE 2015 was a wake-up call for the Opposition, Mr Low said that each Opposition party would have its own interpretation of the results and own way to “look at how they should restrategise”, going forward.

“I suppose it’s something for the Opposition to ponder about, but I’m not in the position to say what it is, although we do know what we should do,” he added.

For now, the WP has a chance to win back more support in Aljunied, where residents burst into cheers as their Members of Parliament-elect did their rounds today.

Some residents were swinging the party flag, while two teenagers were seen chasing after the team, who were perched on a truck, to hand them a handmade WP banner.

IPS crunched the numbers: New citizens contributed a maximum of about 2% of eligible voters, and comprised not more than...
Posted by IPS Commons on Friday, September 18, 2015

Could new citizens really be the explanation for #GE2015's PAP vote swing? We decided to find out by crunching some numbers and of course, Googling. Let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Posted by The Middle Ground on Sunday, September 13, 2015

Why the PAP won big
By Eugene Tan, Published TODAY, 12 Sep 2015

GE2015 demonstrated the adaptability of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and the resilience of the one-party system in Singapore. With their ballots, Singa­poreans have handed the PAP a strong mandate. The outcome was unexpected, as the party romped home comfortably in most contests. The swing back to the PAP was across the board, representing widespread endorsement of the party, which has governed Singapore since 1959. How do we explain this significant, unexpected result?

First, given regional insecurities and economic uncertainty, a “flight to safety” mindset galvanised voters — especially a significant middle ground of undecided ones — who opted for the tried-and-tested PAP as the best way to deal with the real threats and those over the horizon. Prior to Polling Day, there was a pervasive sense of foreboding that the PAP may see further and deep decline in electoral support. While a freak election result was not deemed to be at play, voters probably felt that a further loss of political support would be highly challenging for the PAP with regard to how it would govern in its next five-year term.

Second, the PAP has been working hard since the previous election in May 2011. There were enough hot-button issues, such as cost of living, public transport inadequacies, healthcare affordability, retirement adequacy and immigration. In pulling out all the stops to address these issues, which had caused voters to turn away from it in the 2011 election, the PAP demonstrated that it could rise to the occasion even with its back against the wall. Once again, the PAP’s track record of delivering on its promises provided a safe harbour for voters seeking a trusted and tested brand.

Third, the Workers’ Party (WP)-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), which became the meme of the PAP’s campaigns, caused voters in the PAP-WP match-ups to consider closely whether the WP measured up in the task of running a town council. This titanic struggle was about driving home the grand narratives of what AHPETC ultimately represented.

For the PAP, AHPETC was about the WP’s competence, character and integrity, as well as the imperative of honest and responsible politics in Singapore. The WP portrayed the AHPETC issue as representing all that is wrong with one-party dominance as well as the supposed bullying that comes with the concentration of power and the lack of checks and balances in the system of governance.

It is clear that the AHPETC issue seriously undermined the WP’s electoral fortunes. In the final analysis, the PAP’s narrative on the AHPETC issue prevailed and resonated better with voters. This was demonstrated in the WP’s loss of support across the board — even in its Hougang stronghold and the Aljunied crown jewel — and in the PAP wresting back Punggol East.


The election outcome can also be explained through how voters regarded the relationship between two variables: One, the largest number of elected Opposition Members of Parliament between 2011 and this year; and two, the PAP government’s significant policy changes and how it had engaged the electorate since the previous General Election.

Given the significant electoral swing-back to the PAP, voters clearly did not see the relationship as a causal one, despite the WP’s claim otherwise. Voters saw the relationship as a mere correlation, and assessed that the PAP’s policy changes and innovations, such as the Pioneer Generation Package and MediShield Life, the several rounds of property cooling measures, as well as the efforts to deal with the public transport crunch, were largely driven by the PAP’s efforts to get things right. Singaporeans have used their votes to duly reward the PAP’s conscientious attempts to assuage their unhappiness on these hot-button issues.

Fourth, this poll appears to have conferred a strategic advantage on the PAP. In essence, Singaporeans were in a positive mood after the climax of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, fully savouring the celebration, pride, unity and reflection. The massive outpouring of emotion at the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew appears to have given the PAP an “LKY dividend”, made more poignant given that Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s birthday anniversary is on Sept 16. While one should not overstate the effect of the combination of the SG50 celebrations and Mr Lee’s passing, it should not surprise us that the PAP’s campaign sought to reinforce in the minds of voters the PAP’s and the late Mr Lee’s critical role in the growth and development of Singapore.

Fifth, regional and economic insecurities also contributed to the national swing to the PAP. The haze from Indonesia, which peaked on Cooling-off Day, was a stark reminder of Singapore’s vulnerabilities. These potential threats also helped the PAP garner support, given its strong record in national and internal security, as well as foreign relations.

Sixth, although the PAP did not carry out a campaign of particular note, the Opposition parties did themselves no favours by seeking to be even more to the left than the PAP. They assailed voters with grand schemes of more expenditures on various things such as free healthcare and unemployment benefits. Ultimately, voters carefully considered how sustainable and purposeful such plans were and were not taken in by the political false prophets.

GE2015 did not provide a firm indication as to whether Singapore is moving away from the one-party-dominant to a two-party or multi-party political system. This time, voters did not seem to place weight on the WP’s intrinsic value as the leading Opposition party and its role in Singapore’s evolving political landscape, where the idea of one-party dominance is increasingly being challenged. Despite high expectations, the WP was not able to consolidate and build on its gains of seven elected seats. The PAP stymied and even rolled back the WP’s gains and ascendancy.

As for the non-WP opposition, GE2015 demonstrates that it risks becoming irrelevant in a more competitive and demanding political landscape. Singaporeans are firm that there should not be opposition for opposition’s sake.

While an aberration globally, Singapore’s one-party-dominant system, which has been in place since 1959, remains dynamic and robust. With their ballots, Singaporean voters are signalling that the PAP Government must govern with empathy and less haughtiness, and not lose the common-man touch. It is not merely about whether Singapore is well governed, but how it is governed that will matter increasingly in the years ahead.

The PAP still has lots of soul-searching to do. It has to grapple with its own instinctive quest for dominance, and balance that with the electorate’s growing belief that political competition, diversity and contestation are critical ingredients in a society at the crossroads.

The battle for the hearts and minds of Singaporeans is now concluded. Now, it is time for Singaporeans to put aside their political affiliations and work together for a better future.

Eugene K B Tan is associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University.

Nowadays political leaders congratulate other leaders like how your so-called friends wish you happy birthday on your FB wall. #GE2015
Posted by on Sunday, September 13, 2015

Opposition at a loss to explain drubbing
By Loh Chee Kong, TODAY, 12 Sep 2015

In a stunning victory, the People’s Action Party (PAP) romped to a landslide in the country’s 12th General Election (GE) since Independence, reversing its performance in 2011 and winning 83 out of 89 Parliamentary seats yesterday.

The ruling party improved on its showing in all constituencies, compared with the previous elections four years ago, and even wrested the Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) from the Workers’ Party. In Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC), which was being contested for the first time since 1991, the party won 77.71 per cent of the vote. Even in defeat, the PAP polled well: The Workers’ Party retained Aljunied GRC, but with a razor-thin 50.95 per cent majority. In winning the first GRC by an Opposition party in 2011, the WP polled 54.7 per cent of the vote. The picture was much the same in the WP’s traditional stronghold in Hougang SMC.

Some 2.3 million votes were cast in the election, which saw all constituencies contested for the first time since Singapore’s independence.

The PAP’s crushing win saw it significantly improve its vote share to 69.9 per cent — the highest since 2001 — from 60.1 per cent in 2011 GE. In more than half of the 29 constituencies contested, the PAP won by more than 70 per cent of the popular vote, with the biggest margin — 79.28 per cent — coming from Jurong GRC, which is helmed by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Shell-shocked Opposition leaders spoke of a nationwide swing towards the PAP that they struggled to reconcile with. They said the feedback and response garnered from voters made yesterday’s result a veritable bolt from the blue, and most who spoke to the media had few answers, saying they needed more time to do a post-mortem to fully comprehend what went wrong.

At a press conference that began after half past three in the morning, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked Singaporeans for the strong mandate. He added that he was particularly satisfied with recapturing Punggol East from the WP. “To Singapore, this is a great result,” he said.

“I wholeheartedly thank voters of all backgrounds and races ... without your support, we wouldn’t have such a good result. We also successfully got many young voters’ support,” Mr Lee said. “I’m very glad that our overall votes have gone up, but we won’t be complacent, because you’ve given us a great responsibility and we will continue to improve and work for the people. We will do our best and fulfil our responsibility with all our hearts ... For those who didn’t vote for us, we too need to work with you, because this is our Singapore, this is a home that belongs to everyone.”

Mr Lee also paid tribute to the PAP’s Aljunied GRC team for putting up a valiant fight. “I’m very pleased with the results ... We missed by only 0.9 percentage points, and that’s it. But next time, we will get there,” he said.

Mr Lee said he looked forward to having the elected WP candidates “coming fully prepared to engage” in Parliament for a “robust exchange on significant issues, including all the issues they’ve raised in the hustings”. He noted that the minimum wage issue was one that was raised for the first time by the WP during campaigning.

WP chief Low Thia Khiang had set a goal of at least 20 Opposition Members of Parliament to achieve what he described as a “balanced” legislature.

In the end, the party wound up with its representation in Parliament cut by one, to six. After the final result — for Aljunied GRC, which had a recount — was announced, Mr Low said a lot of people, including the PAP itself, did not expect the “massive swing” of votes.

He was asked whether the WP’s weaker showing could be due to the financial management lapses at the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, which the PAP had brought up during the hustings. In response, Mr Low said he was “not able to assess conclusively”, but noted that the vote swing was across the board, and did not affect only the constituencies that WP was contesting in.

“We could have lost our seats, given that massive swing of (about) 10 percentage points, and we won (in Aljunied GRC),” he said. WP chairman Sylvia Lim pointed out that the swing was less than four percentage points in Aljunied GRC.

Nevertheless, Hougang MP Png Eng Huat, who successfully defended his seat, felt that the AHPETC issue had an impact “to a certain extent”. “But we have done our best ... We have been rushing our accounts (to get them ready),” he said.

Mr Low said he was satisfied with his party’s performance. “I wish to congratulate the PAP (for having) a strong mandate to configure the fourth generation of leaders and I hope they will do well to secure the future of Singapore,” he said. “What I want to remind the PAP is this: It is important to build trust between the people and the national institutions ... including the civil service, the judiciary, and the mainstream media.”

Adding that he hoped the PAP would reflect on this issue, Mr Low said: “They have to ... not only act fairly but to be seen to act fairly ... I think it is important for the future of Singapore ... Any politicisation of these institutions to gain political advantage, to me, is against the national interest.”

There will be three Non-Constituency MPs in the next Parliament. WP candidate and former Punggol East MP Lee Li Lian, who was the best loser, said she would not be taking up the NCMP seat. “I should give this chance to my other WP colleagues. We really have some good people who deserve the slot,” she said on Facebook.


This election was the most intensely fought in Singapore’s history, with a record 181 candidates vying for 89 seats in Parliament. In all, eight Opposition parties took part in the polls, which also saw the return of independent candidates for the first time since the 2001 GE.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo, whose team in Aljunied lost to the WP in 2011, took to Facebook to express his surprise at the result. “Amazing landslide for the PAP. Singapore crosses a watershed,” said the chairman and executive director of Kerry Logistics Network.

Political scientist Lam Peng Er, from the National University of Singapore’s East Asia Institute, went as far as describing the results as a “PAP electoral tsunami” that surprised even the ruling party’s supporters.

Dr Lam cited a “perfect convergence of factors” including the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the celebrations of the country’s 50th anniversary of Independence. He said the PAP had been on “campaign mode” for the past four years, rolling out policies to address voter dissatisfaction on issues such as housing, foreign workers and transport, which led to a large swing against it in the 2011 GE. “The PAP has been responding in a concerted and aggressive manner to address issues which Singaporeans have,” he said.

Dr Felix Tan of SIM Global Education said the PAP campaign could be deemed a success. The results “clearly demonstrate that Singaporeans believe that the PAP has made significant efforts to ensure that they place resident needs above populist demands”, he said.

“The PAP campaign strategy this time, besides highlighting the problems of AHPETC, has been to remind Singaporeans of the good things that the party has done and can do, despite some setbacks,” he added. “Singaporeans have given a huge boost to the PAP to lead the country forward, at least for the next five years. This will mean that there will be some level of stability and continuation of the PAP policies thus far.”


TOC, the voters are not misled by fears of a new Govt. Please don't take them as fools. They are a discerning lot. They...
Posted by Shut down TRS on Thursday, September 17, 2015

WP Playing Victim AgainSINCE MAY 2011, elected MPs may rent a void deck space to set up office to conduct their...
Posted by Singapore Matters on Thursday, September 17, 2015

'All-out contest may have worked against opposition'
Lower levels of dissatisfaction with Govt also a factor in large vote share swing: Sylvia Lim
By Chong Zi Liang, The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

The all-out contest in the 89 seats at the Sept 11 polls may have led to a pushback by voters against the opposition, said Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim, who also cited lower levels of dissatisfaction with the Government as another reason for the large swing in national vote share in favour of the ruling party.

However, she did not think financial accounting issues concerning a WP-run town council or overconfidence on the party's part were factors in the WP's slide in support in its 10 battlegrounds.

"One of the things that did loom in people's minds is that, for the first time, all 89 seats were contested. Perhaps some people did feel there was some risk... the PAP might be dislodged as a government," she said.

"There is a perception that the opposition movement is growing strong, and there could have been a pushback on that because people still feel comfortable with the PAP as a government."

She spoke to reporters yesterday before the start of the party's procession in Aljunied GRC to thank voters for their support. The WP won Aljunied in 2011 with 54.7 per cent of the vote but garnered only 50.95 per cent this time round.

Despite the pushback, WP will not be adopting the by-election strategy, in which the opposition contests less than half the seats so the PAP is returned to power on Nomination Day, said Ms Lim. She added that there is "no reason for us to cap or there's no way for us to work together as an opposition movement to cap the number of seats we want to contest".

"I don't think that Singaporeans will really benefit from that, because fundamentally we also want Singaporeans to have a choice, and I think the ruling party is probably happy to have a mandate rather than a walkover," she said.

Ms Lim added that "the numbers do not suggest that" the party was affected by the governance and financial lapses at the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council. PAP leaders have accused the WP of mismanaging the town council and turned up the rhetoric during the first half of campaigning, although WP has maintained that there was no wrongdoing and problems in the accounts are being rectified.

But Ms Lim pointed out that while the PAP's national vote share climbed by almost 10 percentage points, the WP-held constituencies saw a slide of about 5 percentage points.

"So if the town council issue were to affect us we would see a bigger swing against us," she said.

Instead, Ms Lim listed other possible factors in the PAP's favour, "such as the feel-good factor of SG50 and the memory of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew", as well as positive sentiments towards the ruling party after policy changes.

The PAP won 69.9 per cent of the vote share, a 9.8 percentage point improvement from 2011, when it scored its worst showing since independence. Mr Lee, Singapore's founding prime minister, died in March this year.

The WP saw its overall vote share fall from 46.6 per cent to 39.8 per cent and it also lost the Punggol East single seat, which it won in a 2013 by-election.

When asked if the party had been overconfident of its support in Aljunied as it placed more emphasis on walking the ground in other areas during the campaign, Ms Lim said the WP had already done consistent groundwork there over the last four years. "It's logical that during the campaign period when we were actually going to contest in

areas where we are not the incumbent, we have to do more work there," she said.

As for whether the electoral setback would affect WP's ability to retain and attract talent, Ms Lim chose to see it as "a very useful test of a person's commitment".

#GE2015: What led to landslide win for the PAP? Kiss92 FM's Arnold Gay, ST managing editor Ignatius Low and ST political desk's Francis Chan discuss
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, September 11, 2015

8 reasons for surge of support
On Sept 11, 2.3 million voters in GE 2015 returned the PAP to power, giving it 83 out of 89 seats and 69.9 per cent of the popular vote - a swing of almost 10 percentage points from GE 2011. Why did this happen? Jeremy Au Yong and Tham Yuen-C find out.
The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015


Observers had expected Singapore's Golden Jubilee to weigh heavily in the People's Action Party's (PAP) favour.

And it looks like the all-year-round SG50 festivities, with the biggest National Day Parade on Aug 9, did have a feel-good effect on voters.

But, more than that, celebrating Singapore's 50th year of independence and harking back to the country's early, more turbulent days, could also have reminded Singaporeans of just how unique their country is - a little red dot that not only existed, but also thrived against all odds.

During the nine days of campaigning, PAP leaders had attributed this exceptionalism to voters themselves, calling on Singaporeans to "keep Singapore special". In the end, it could have been a message too seductive to ignore.


The death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in March reminded Singaporeans of his key role in the country's progress.

While it evoked a sense of gratitude and sympathy, some pundits were unsure if it would translate into votes for his PAP.

But what is certain, though, is how the week of mourning galvanised Singaporeans, especially the silent majority, who turned up in the hundreds of thousands to pay respects outside Parliament House, at tribute sites around the country, and on the streets as his hearse passed by on the day of his funeral.

The sense of solidarity and patriotism could have swung votes the PAP's way. And the story of how he and his pioneer generation of leaders built Singapore could have driven home the importance of a good leadership, which was a key plank of the PAP's campaign this election.


The Workers' Party (WP) had campaigned on it, telling voters that the Government's policy "U-turns" over the past four years were the result of a stronger opposition presence in Parliament.

It turns out though, that voters could have given the PAP credit for the policy changes instead.

In areas such as immigration and property prices, the Government took quick, decisive actions to tighten the tap on foreigners and bring down property prices.

These policy changes have, possibly, defused a number of hot button issues that turned up the heat in the 2011 elections and given voters fewer reasons for protest.

Over the past four years, the leftward shift that the party had taken had also become more obvious, drawing praise from opposition parties and activists alike.


The issue of the WP's Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) dominated the first half of this election's campaign for both the opposition party and the PAP.

On the one side, the PAP had attacked the WP for lapses at its town council, saying it exposed a deeper integrity problem at the party.

On the other side, the WP had painted itself as a victim of the ruling party's bullying, saying the PAP was using the town council system to hobble opposition parties.

But, in the second part of its campaign, the WP had moved away from the issue, seemingly confident that voters would not care.

As it turns out, voters may not have bought the opposition party's story - that the whole issue was just being stirred up unnecessarily by the PAP.

Perhaps the surest sign of this is the party's results in Aljunied GRC, most associated with the town council issue. The party barely clung onto the constituency, polling just 50.95 per cent of valid votes.


At the final Workers' Party (WP) rally of the campaign period, Hougang MP Png Eng Huat made a call for sweeping change.

He said a fundamental overhaul of Singapore's political landscape was needed and that it could only be realised with a wave of support for the WP. Singapore needed "big change" at the polls, he said, or "nothing else will change at all".

Those comments - taken in the context of this campaign and opposition leaders openly talking about the need for at least 20 opposition MPs - may have presented undecided voters with too much of a change all at once.


While it was unlikely that anyone seriously bought into the PAP warning that it might fail to form the government, the opposition might have offered a vision of the future they were not yet ready to embrace.

While the 2011 General Election was marked by excitement over a series of "star-catches" by opposition parties, there was a comparatively muted response to this year's slate.

Part of it was simply because the voters had seen it all before. Highly qualified former government scholar with stellar academic credentials? There were four in 2011, not including WP's Chen Show Mao. Young, fresh-faced, articulate female candidate? There was National Solidarity Party's Nicole Seah.

It is unclear if these star catches made all that much difference. PM Lee's criticism that the opposition was a "mouse in the House" may have found agreement with some voters.

Opposition parties seemed less prepared for battle in 2015 than four years ago, when they presented a more thought-out strategy.

The NSP was hurt by its constant flip-flopping on its decision to contest MacPherson SMC; the Singapore People's Party and Democratic Progressive Party could not agree on a joint team until the 11th hour; and the Internet had a field day with two separate Reform Party candidates who accidentally called on voters to support other parties.


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may be one of the PAP's most popular politicians, but many observers still felt that his decision to place himself at the heart of the campaign was a risk.

Posters of his smiling face were everywhere during this campaign, much to the chagrin of the opposition candidates. PM Lee also made campaign stops in various constituencies and sent e-mail to voters that was signed by him.

The results are evidence that the gamble paid off. The PAP made gains across the board and PM Lee ended up with one of the best-performing wards in the election. Voters also rewarded him with the strongest mandate of his tenure.


In a departure from recent years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spent a significant chunk of this year's National Day Rally talking about global issues.

"We have to be alive to our external environment, that's a fundamental reality for a 'little red dot'," he said, as he explained how instability in Singapore's neighbourhood could affect the nation.

For voters who had kept up with global affairs, they might have seen that all is not well with the world at the moment.

Even as Singapore's election campaign was picking up steam, its closest neighbour, Malaysia, was contending with growing unrest over corruption allegations involving the prime minister and China's massive stock market crash captured headlines around the world.

Reporting by May Chen, Walter Sim, Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, Marissa Lee, Audrey Tan, Lim Yi Han and Zhaki Abdullah

The end of the 'new normal'
Voters want to be won over every time they go to the polls
By Warren Fernandez, Editor, The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

So, is this the "new normal" of Singapore politics?

Were voters signalling, through the massive 10-point swing to the People's Action Party in Friday's polls, that they wanted a return to one party dominating Parliament overwhelmingly, at the expense of alternative views being heard in and out of the House?

Did the Workers' Party's call to entrench the opposition and add diversity to public discourse as part of the necessary evolution of politics in a maturing society fall on deaf ears?

Do the results mean the PAP now has the political winds behind it and momentum on its side, so much so that it might be tempted to return to the "old normal" of politics here, and the politically dominant - or, as its critics would say, domineering - ways of the past?

Not so fast. To think that would be to commit the same mistake as some political watchers made after the last general election.

Soon after the 2011 polls, when the PAP suffered its worst electoral showing, with 60.1 per cent of the vote, many were quick to declare this the "new normal" of Singapore politics.

The opposition, and especially the WP, was seen - not without an element of wishful thinking - to be in the ascendant, with the PAP adrift, amid much internal soul-searching that went on for months. The subsequent big wins for the WP in two by-elections, in 2012 and 2013, reinforced this view.

It led many to draw a straight political line to the future, with the WP marching ever forward, expected to sweep more seats and, perhaps, even another GRC or two in this election, as the PAP struggled to stave off an inevitable retreat in the face of a better-educated, more demanding electorate.

That didn't happen.

Instead, things turned out more like events in the 1990s. In the 1991 polls, the opposition pulled off a surprise sweep of four seats against a popular PAP leader, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. There was much talk about the imminent emergence of a two-party system, with the rising Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) providing an alternative to the PAP.

Yet, when voters went to the polls in 1997, the SDP was routed, with most of its sitting MPs turfed out for their lame and lackadaisical performances in Parliament and on the ground.

The moral of the story here is simple: In politics, what goes up can also come down.

So, just as the PAP gained from a surge to safety in the snap 2001 elections called soon after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, taking a stunning 75.3 per cent of the votes, it also saw this reversed to 66.6 per cent in 2006, shedding nearly 9 percentage points, almost as big a swing as happened this time round.

Understanding what voters were saying in each of these outings to the polls is thus almost as important as the outcome itself, if parties are to draw the right lessons and secure the people's support for the long haul.

So just what were voters saying in GE 2015?

Was it just the effect of the so-called SG50 feel-good factor benefiting the ruling party? I have always doubted this was enough to sway the vote decisively, and still do.

What I think made the difference was the passing of founding father Lee Kuan Yew in March, which did more than anything else to remind everyone here what SG50 was all about. A week of national mourning focused many minds on the struggles and sacrifices that had been made - and might still be needed - in order for this tiny red dot to survive and succeed in an inhospitable region.

That, plus an unlikely confluence of external events - from plunging stock markets and currencies, to protesters on the streets in Kuala Lumpur, and even the haze that blanketed the island on the eve of Polling Day - helped make clear to voters that the PAP's insistence on the need for Singaporeans to stay united, ever paranoid and forward-looking, if the country was to remain "special", was not just so much political scaremongering.

Add to that the sense that the PAP had made palpable efforts to heed and address voters' concerns on housing, healthcare, transport and immigration, even if there remained much work to do on some fronts.

PAP candidates - especially the PM, who put himself front and centre of the campaign - were also visibly working their guts out to win over each and every voter in the run-up to and during the campaign. That, plus a sense of overreach - and even hubris - among some opposition candidates, who began talking about taking over the government, all added up to cause many to decide that, perhaps, having brought Singapore this far over the last 50 years, the PAP deserved at least another five years at the helm.

GE2015 thus saw a remarkable combination of factors and events - some engineered by the ruling party like the Jubilee celebrations, others pure circumstance like the passing of Mr Lee - unlikely to be repeated.

Yet, that is precisely the point about every election. Each time voters go to the polls is different, and anything can, and often does, happen. There are no straight lines to the future in politics, with all its surprising ebbs and flows, and if nothing else, GE2015 has debunked the idea that a "new normal" was set after 2011. The next election will be no different, with its own set of issues to be addressed, and electoral battles to be won, rather than a simple extrapolation of trends from GE2015.

In the end, voters made clear on Friday that they retain the right to judge at each election just who has understood their concerns best, and acted in their interests, and give their support accordingly.

What voters give, they can just as readily take away. They are in charge, they "are the bosses", to borrow from one of PM Lee's rallies, and that is precisely the way they like it. It is a message that politicians ,whether in red, white or blue, should never forget, in both victory and defeat.

A stunning outcome, a moment to reflect
By Vikram Khanna, Published The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

Wake up and smell the landslide.

A lot of bookies would have lost a lot of money this morning. Singapore does not have pollsters but it does have a lot of self-styled political pundits, and this was not the result many of them predicted.

At a private lunch two days before voting, an eminent former Singapore politician, renowned for his political acuity, forecast that the People's Action Party (PAP) would see its share of the popular vote go down by three to four percentage points. As it turned out, neither the extent of the swing nor the direction was right.

Many of the predictions for individual constituencies went haywire. At the end of the campaign, after observing the often electrifying opposition rallies, the pundits predicted that the PAP would lose East Coast GRC (it didn't); that given the lightweight PAP team ranged against seasoned Workers' Party heavyweights, Aljunied would be no contest (it was - not bad for a suicide squad, as one newsroom wag put it); that Holland-Bukit Timah and Fengshan would be too close to call (they were not); and that the opposition would win back Potong Pasir and retain Punggol East (it didn't).

Voters have a way of surprising the experts. This is not unique to Singapore. Before the May 7 elections in Britain, just about every pollster in the land predicted that a hung Parliament was dead certain. In the event, the Conservatives won an absolute majority. Then, in India's elections last year, the polls suggested that Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies would get a plurality of votes and would probably form a coalition. Nobody predicted a landslide victory.

A landslide is also what the PAP won in Friday's elections and it needs some explaining. People have mentioned the Lee Kuan Yew-sympathy-vote factor following his death, the feel-good SG50 impact and the Lee Hsien Loong-Tharman Shanmugaratnam wow effect. But this election result is surely about more than that.

There were essentially two competing narratives: The PAP's narrative was "vote for who can govern", while the opposition's narrative was "we need a bigger opposition as a check on power".

Maybe the opposition missed something that voters took on board: that the PAP had in fact listened to many of the grievances aired in the 2011 election, and acted on them. It has curbed the inflow of foreign workers, reined in soaring property prices, increased health subsidies and income support schemes to reduce inequalities, and expanded the transport infrastructure. More needs to be done in many of these areas, but the work has begun. For many voters, that is good enough.

While the PAP has blunted the opposition's old agenda since 2011, that agenda has remained largely the same. And so, if the 2011 election prompted soul-searching within the PAP, this election should do that for the opposition. Rather than depicting the PAP as being rigid, uncaring and tunnel-visioned, maybe they need to acknowledge that it has in fact been responsive - and focus on how they, the opposition, can build on that.

Perhaps, too, they should tone down their anti-foreigner rants; one of the striking features of the campaign was that whereas many opposition leaders blamed foreigners for just about every social problem - from jobs to property prices, to overcrowding - the PAP did not. It took the nuanced view that this is not a simple issue, but, as Singapore's business community knows very well, involves trade-offs.

And maybe, just maybe, the now age-old opposition narrative that "we don't want to form the Government, we only want to be the opposition" does not work any more. If you want to be elected, you should, like opposition parties everywhere else, also be prepared to govern.

The writer is Associate Editor of The Business Times. This commentary first appeared in the Sept 12 edition of the newspaper.

Singapore far too small for more than three parties
By Derek da Cunha, Published The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

After the fire and brimstone of the election, normalcy will quickly return to Singapore, if it has not already done so.

The poor opposition performance was probably the equivalent of the drubbing the Liberal Democrats received in the British general election in May.

One can only hope that some personalities from the minor opposition parties can put aside their ego and vanity and announce that they will disband and exit the political scene.

I have said on numerous occasions that Singapore is far too small a place to accommodate more than three political parties (including the ruling People's Action Party).

It was noticeable at the early morning press conference that PM Lee Hsien Loong adopted a generally conciliatory tone.

More than anyone else, he probably realises that the embarrassment of riches he received in political capital from the election results also amounts to a huge responsibility which, doubtless, he will shoulder with wisdom and for the benefit of all Singaporeans.

We should also not forget our reality as an immigrant society.

'The abstractions of "democracy", "freedom" and "human rights" are in and of themselves important, but they appear of little concern to most Singaporeans - a people who are virtually all of immigrant stock.

Like immigrants in other polities, material concerns are Singaporeans' major preoccupation, and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. It is thus difficult to envisage electoral success for any Singapore political party that places political abstractions as the central plank of its philosophy, no matter the intellectual brilliance and charisma of its candidates or leaders.' (Chapter 2 on the SDP - Breakthrough, page 92)

The writer, an independent scholar and political observer, is the author of Breakthrough: Roadmap for Singapore's Political Future. The chapter from the book he cites is on the Singapore Democratic Party - whose average share of the vote in seats contested slid from 36.8 per cent in 2011 to 31.2 per cent on Friday.

PAP thank you parades

We ignored bookies to focus on what's right: Swee Say
By Wong Siew Ying, The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

Speculation swirled that the People's Action Party (PAP) team in East Coast GRC would lose. Bettors were placing money on the Workers' Party (WP) slate to win.

But the PAP team was walking the ground non-stop, and had observed that residents were "a lot warmer, a lot friendlier" compared with the 2011 General Election.

"That is why on the fifth or sixth day (of the campaign), we decided to ignore the bookies, because we think it is better that we focus on what we do best, what we do right," said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who anchors the slate.

He was speaking after his team - including Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State Maliki Osman and two-term backbencher Jessica Tan - toured the constituency yesterday to thank residents for their support.

Theirs was widely seen as the hottest GRC battleground of this election. In the end, the PAP beat the WP with 60.7 per cent of the votes - a 5.9 percentage point swing in its favour compared with 2011.

Still, East Coast was the lowest scoring GRC victory for the ruling party, with the slate up against young turks of the WP touted to form its next generation of leaders.

And so, the PAP team will not be resting on its laurels, said Mr Lim, and, starting tomorrow, it will be analysing the voting patterns of its residents, to understand why it had less support in certain precincts compared with others.

Looking ahead to 2020, Mr Lim said that it will examine the data from the various polling stations.

"For example, we will look at the (voting patterns of) condos, landed (homes), the HDB... If in certain precincts the support level is relatively lower, then obviously we got to find out why. There could be something that we may not be aware of, so we are going to go deeper into it."

But, Mr Lim added, he would not know how each resident voted, and his team will not try to "second guess" whether people voted for them or not in their engagement with them. Said Mr Lim: "If the end objective is to win votes, then you could be doing the wrong thing, just to win their vote.

"So we think it should be the other way round... we believe that if you engage the residents correctly, if we serve them effectively, if we care for them sincerely, I believe the votes will come automatically.

"So, (we will) chase after residents, rather than chase after votes."

He added that, over the last 41/2 years, his team focused on deepening engagement with residents.

"The next five years, we will be building on the foundation of the last term," he said.

In his Bedok ward, for instance, a priority is to better engage condominium dwellers.

He plans to hold forums on MediShield Life for them.

The victorious team yesterday was warmly received by residents and diners at several markets and food centres around the GRC.

Hugs and handshakes were plentiful as residents congratulated the MPs-elect and shared how nerve-racking it was as they waited till the wee hours of the morning for the final results.

Housewife Ho Gwek Thoh, 70, said: "I stayed up till 3am and when the PAP won I was so happy. I clapped along with my husband and daughter." Madam Ho, who has lived in Bedok for some 40 years, said she is backing the PAP team as the Government has "helped us senior citizens a lot", referring to initiatives such as the Pioneer Generation Package.

PAP thank you parades

Mr Lee's death, SG50 helped sway voters: Dr Ng
By Charissa Yong and Toh Yong Chuan, The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

The huge swing of votes towards the People's Action Party (PAP) at Friday's general election resulted, in part, from Singaporeans recognising how much the country had progressed since independence, party organising secretary Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

And this realisation was all the more stark in light of the external environment, Dr Ng, who is defence minister, told reporters after visiting residents in his Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC to thank them for their support in GE2015.

He noted that events such as the jubilee celebrations and the death of first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in March reminded many people of how far the nation had come.

"Especially when surrounding countries were having a lot of troubles, you saw the contrast helped bring home the message that Singapore is special," said Dr Ng .

He thinks this made Singaporeans "understand and appreciate and ask themselves also: Why is it we've done so well and what is it that has enabled us?"

And one answer, he said, was Singapore's stable political leadership and the way the system works.

The PAP's five-member team he led won 73.6 per cent of votes against a Singapore People's Party team, an upward swing of 16.7 percentage points from its 2011 result.

This was greater than the nearly 10 percentage point swing in votes that the PAP got at GE2015, which saw its national share of the popular vote reach 69.9 per cent, up from 60.1 per cent in GE2011.

Dr Ng, who was accompanied by teammates Josephine Teo, Chee Hong Tat, Chong Kee Hiong and Saktiandi Supaat, rode on lorries through Bishan and Toa Payoh, greeting and thanking residents and local merchants along the way.

He identified two other factors that might explain the swing.

One, PAP candidates had spent a lot of time on the ground listening to what residents wanted.

"It's vital that you take care of their interests," he said.

Two, the PAP has credible leaders with integrity in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Government, which has rolled out key policy changes over the last four years.

Dr Ng also thought the issue of town council management, which had been hotly debated during the campaign, was a significant factor.

"It's not only just about technical issues but how MPs must approach it (managing a town council) in a way that is open, accountable, transparent and with integrity," he said.

Asked if the results meant voters were not in favour of a two-party system, Dr Ng said Singaporeans were in favour of high standards.

"What voters are saying is that if you have good candidates then whether it's two, three or four parties, they must prove themselves to be credible, honest, have integrity. And then they will choose."

The PAP team in Tanjong Pagar GRC led by labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who is also party organising secretary, visited Pek Kio and Tanglin Halt markets yesterday. He and teammates Indranee Rajah, Chia Shi-Lu, Joan Pereira and Melvin Yong won 77.7 per cent of votes against a Singaporeans First team.

Said Mr Chan: "Singaporeans are very aware of the challenges that we have going forward, not just internal, but also external challenges. Because of that, Singaporeans know that the secret ingredient of our success over the last 50 years and for many years to come is our ability to maintain that unity."

Ms Indranee, who is Senior Minister of State for Law and Education, said the PAP had begun preparing for these challenges through policy shifts in housing, healthcare and education over the last five years.

We collate some of the best (and worst) international stories about People's Action Party's #GE2015 win.
Posted by on Monday, September 14, 2015

Opposition parties need to mind the three Ps of voters
Among Protest, Pity and Passion voters, the opposition needs to grow the last group most
By Kor Kian Beng, The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

The opposition here used to be able to rely on three "P"s for support during an election period.

These are: Protest votes, arising from dissatisfaction among those in the electorate who have been unhappy over government policies;

Votes from those who Pity, sympathise and see opposition parties as underdogs who need their backing for taking on the might of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP); and

Votes of Passion - from those who are true believers and share in the opposition's cause to serve as a check on the Government and, at some point down the road, to become that government.

But going forward, the opposition parties may have to focus more on the last "P" to avoid the big swing in the national vote share and also the winning margins in almost all the 29 battlegrounds towards the PAP at the Sept 11 General Election.

It could be the biggest lesson for opposition parties as they take stock and pick up the pieces after a surprisingly heavy defeat by the PAP at the ballot box.

The voting results showed that all parties, including the Workers' Party (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), have suffered from and will continue to be hit by a decline in Protest and Pity votes.

It is either as a result of their own will or the PAP's actions.

In the past, opposition parties could count on a minimum level of support by Protest voters who believe they have suffered from government policies or perceive the PAP to be out-of-touch with the masses, or placing economic growth at all costs above the people's welfare.

They cast their votes not so much to support the opposition but in pique and anger at the PAP.

But since the 2011 polls which saw a historic loss by the PAP to the WP in Aljunied GRC, policy tweaks by the Government in key areas such as housing and immigration have managed to quell discontent to a large extent.

It is hard to imagine that the PAP - buoyed by its 69.9 per cent vote share at the polls - its best performance since the 2001 election and a 9.8-point surge from the 60.1 per cent it received in 2011 - would stop doing what has clearly worked for it at the 2015 elections.

As for the "Pity" votes, opposition parties could once count on a substantial level of sympathetic supporters who want to reward them for their willingness to take on the PAP, come what may.

Many also wanted to help ensure that the party and its candidates do not lose their electoral deposits.

But such sympathetic sentiments have dwindled now, given changes in the political climate here which have resulted in more people willing to come out, join an opposition party, and stand as candidates against the PAP.

At the 2011 polls, 82 out of the 87 parliamentary seats were contested, marking a record high since the 1972 polls.

The election on Friday had contests in all 89 seats, a development not seen since Singapore's independence in 1965.

With seemingly no lack of opposition candidates in the pipeline, the electorate is no longer as moved by the need to cast the Pity vote just so the opposition can stay in the game .

For the more established parties, like the WP, such votes have been on the wane, especially as voters recognise that the party has been able to attract more high-calibre candidates to its ranks in recent years. Under such circumstances, it is also disingenuous of opposition parties to expect voters to see them as weak and in need of support.

The decline among those who would cast the Protest and Pity votes, coupled with an insufficient rise in the number of Passion votes, goes some way to explain the PAP's handsome victories of above 70 per cent of the vote share in six out of 13 single-seat wards, and nine out of 16 group representation constituencies (GRCs).

The lesson is clear: Opposition parties must start building up a critical mass of Passion voters.

But this is the toughest type of voter to cultivate and satisfy.

One just has to look at the WP's progress over the past decade, and its setback at the latest election, to understand why.

Since 2001, when Mr Low Thia Khiang took over the reins as secretary-general, the WP has been trying to attract Passion votes from Singaporeans who seek a "rational, responsible and respectable" opposition party capable of being a check on the Government by having at least one-third of the MPs in Parliament. That's the minimum required to prevent changes to the Constitution.

The WP still does tap the Protest and Pity vote by pointing out what it deems to be unfair treatment or bullying by the PAP. But its priority has been to have a large core of voters who believe in its cause.

For this approach to succeed, the WP needs voters to believe in the need for an opposition party to play the role of watchdog on government - and to believe even more, that the WP is the party capable of playing that role well.

The WP's performance at the Sept 11 polls - losing Punggol East, narrowly retaining Aljunied GRC, seeing its margin cut in its stronghold of Hougang, and failing to capture East Coast GRC and Fengshan - shows that it does not have enough of such voters yet.

Why so? It may be that not enough people are convinced of the need for a check on the Government. And among those who believe in the need for such checks, the question some might have is whether the WP has the ability to take on such a role.

There is little doubt the ongoing dispute between the WP and the Government over financial lapses at the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council has contributed to voters wondering if the party has what it takes.

Also, there are those who ask if the WP is trying to grow too big too fast, and whether it has become too cocky after its recent successes in winning a GRC in 2011 and two by-elections thereafter.

The WP's 2015 campaign began conservatively with Fengshan and East Coast appearing to be its main targets. But after the mid-point, it moved up a gear and launched an offensive to also snag Marine Parade GRC helmed by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Its criticisms at a rally last Monday of "bad policies" during Mr Goh's 14 years as prime minister appeared to have triggered concerns among voters and brought to the fore the reality that it was intent on ousting a popular and former prime minister. The party would have come across as being overambitious without having proved convincingly that it had the ability to take on bigger responsibilities, such as overseeing additional town councils.

A dash for three GRCs at one go - when questions had been raised about its ability to manage just one - may have contributed to its undoing at the polls.

Grooming Passion voters will require the WP to exercise more finesse in the messaging of its goals and to move towards its political goals at a pace at which voters are comfortable with.

For the SDP, it is a similar story as voters appear to still have reservations over whether the party and its chief, Dr Chee Soon Juan, have truly shed their previously combative style for a more constructive path.

But it is not the end of the world for the opposition. The inability to make further gains on what was achieved in 2011 suggests that more effort needs to be made to convince and grow the Passion voter pool.

If they fail to do so, then opposition parties and politics here will continue to be subject to the vagaries of swings in the mood and perception of the electorate. And voters will regard the opposition as useful only when they want to send signals of unhappiness to the PAP.

Watch Dr Gillian Koh's interview on Philippines-based social news network Rappler where she talks about the Lee Kuan...
Posted by IPS Commons on Monday, September 14, 2015

Netizens may not represent the majority

One of the lessons that we can learn from the 2015 General Election outcome is that we need to be more circumspect when interpreting the signals we receive over social media.

Many on both sides of the political divide have had their eyes glued on comments and reporting on the elections on these channels.

Yet the loudest voices online do not necessarily reflect the views of the majority.

Many were therefore caught by surprise by the massive swing in support for the ruling party.

It is thus important for the Government and the people to remember that the views of the silent majority are often under-represented on social media.

While all voices deserve to be heard, it is important to maintain a sense of perspective on what the majority of Singaporeans believe in.

This is important, especially when government leaders are increasingly looking to be closer to the ground in seeking directions for various policy initiatives and in ascertaining the people's position on social and moral values.

Lee Heng Fatt
ST Forum, 14 Sep 2015

It pays to pay heed to the silent majority

I am heartened that the silent majority roared with a vengeance on Polling Day ("PAP wins big with 69.9 per cent of vote"; last Saturday).

For too long, general public sentiment and opinion have been drowned out by the strident online minority.

Even political pundits and the opposition appeared to have been obfuscated by the online clamour in their predictions for the results of the recent general election.

Mr Lee Heng Fatt, in his letter yesterday ("Netizens may not represent the majority"), rightly cautioned that we need to be more circumspect when interpreting what is said on social media.

He also urged the Government to maintain a sense of perspective on what the majority of Singaporeans believe in.

Indeed, to discount this broad swathe of the populace is to do so at its peril. After all, the majority represents the real socio-economic concerns on the ground.

Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong, in her commentary ("Silent majority's roar of support for PAP"; last Saturday), astutely analysed the motivations of the silent majority in supporting the People's Action Party.

Many voted for the tried and tested.

The opposition's tactic of urging voters to elect more of them into Parliament to pressure the incumbent backfired.

The pushback was a clear signal that the majority is leery of a seismic shift that will destabilise the country, especially in view of the economic and political headwinds buffeting the region.

Moreover, the opposition has not proven itself to be either a creditable or credible alternative.

Nevertheless, as what Ms Chua has warned, the PAP Government should not regard the resounding mandate from the people as a given.

Humility is a virtue that will stand it in good stead with a citizenry wont to punish the ruling party at the polls if it so much as loses touch with the ground.

To its credit, the PAP Government has realised its missteps and has been indefatigably addressing grievances that bedevilled it in the previous general election.

I believe this was one of the reasons voters were won over this time.

The party should keep this up, but be mindful of caving in to populist pressures.

A forward-looking and prudent government adopting a more inclusive and consultative approach is still what most voters want.

Marietta Koh (Mrs)
ST Forum, 15 Sep 2015

Room for opposition voice in a democracy

Some time back, I wrote in the Forum page that the political system of a country has to evolve to suit changing conditions ("Focus attention on how Singapore can evolve"; May 29).

The results of this year's general election have shown that we are evolving.

But are we evolving in the right direction?

Fifty years ago, our population was a diverse group of immigrants, with low education levels and no sense of a national direction.

We were fortunate to have a group of leaders dedicated to nation building. They were able to galvanise people behind them to accept many policies which were unpopular to individuals who wanted individual freedom as practised in the West.

But these policies were good for the long term, and were in the interest of the nation as a whole.

As an old Singaporean, let me recount what it was like at that time.

The Government had to rule with a firm hand. It was perceived to be "dictatorial", "arrogant" and "uncaring", and people were afraid to speak up or openly defy the Government.

In hindsight, this has worked well in nation building for Singapore. However, this type of paternalistic government, over the years, was perceived by younger and better-educated Singaporeans as being too overbearing and arrogant.

With succeeding general elections, the incumbent ruling party's percentage dropped from more than 80 per cent in the past to 60 per cent by 2011.

This year, the support has grown to 70 per cent. What has changed?

The people's perception of "arrogance" and "uncaring" has changed to "humility" and "caring".

This is an evolution for the better.

What of the future?

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's comments are noteworthy ("Opposition 'can continue to contribute to Singapore'"; Monday).

He said: "We will take views from the opposition, from civil society, from people from different walks of life." He also said that the opposition plays a critical role in advancing the country.

The opposition has an important role to play in a democratic system.

The members must not be discouraged, but must regroup and unite as a single credible force as a balance in Parliament, so that the Singapore ship will have stabilisers to sail in the right direction in troubled waters, and not sink like the Titanic.

Our evolution over the next 50 years will depend on this. It is in the hands of the future generation.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)
ST Forum, 15 Sep 2015

Reading the collective will better
Editorial, The Straits Times, 15 Sep 2015

Even before parsing the emphatic electoral victory for the People's Action Party, one should ask why none had been able to see this surprisingly large swing in its favour coming earlier. Those observing from a distance can be forgiven for getting it wrong, like a Malaysian commentator in The Star who predicted that a demand for political change here could upset results as it had grown into "an 'unstoppable' tidal wave". And an Economist Intelligence Unit editor expected the PAP to only "retain or gain a slightly higher share" of the popular vote. But many closer to home were also blindsided - political pundits, academics, media professionals, bookies and, indeed, all the political players as well. How is it they fared little better than the battery of pollsters who misread the outcome of Britain's elections in May?

The question matters because of the great pains taken here to engage in consultations, pound the beat and make house-to-house visits. So, why was the "silent majority" tight-lipped, and were swing voters adequately covered by outreach efforts? As it happened, all succumbed to the effect of an echo chamber that gave more prominence to pro-opposition narratives, especially on social media, than other views. It's a moot point if a big pitch would have been made for the "rational voter" with a better reading of majority concerns. Would opposition strategies have changed, with less political getai which in the end yielded more disappointment than triumph? Keen contestation is par for the course during elections but, done for its own sake, it can take a toll on the tone and substance of debates.

Knowing upfront what matters more to the majority in election cycles is also relevant to the nature of the politics to be nurtured here. For example, sensing that the bond between a government and the people is largely transactional - based on delivering the goods - would give the leadership sufficient time to accentuate other factors instead, like trust. Otherwise, the frenzy of a compressed campaigning season could spur a race to the bottom, with candidates pandering to material demands which cannot be sustained. Increasingly, what would be of greater concern is the political handling of important trade-offs when the public reach exceeds what's within the state's grasp. Rather than just guess the majority's wants, it would be more helpful for all political participants to know the score and not let an assumption create a reality of its own.

What the majority of voters truly mean by inscribing a simple "X" should not be just left to interpretation after the polls. Indeed, many thoughts might run through minds when making that precious one mark on a ballot. But the public pulse needs to be accurately felt well before that, from both vocal minority and silent majority, especially in an age of consensus politics.

Analysts see no U-turns on economic policies post-GE; market subdued
Market's attention is focused on outcome of US Fed policy meeting on Sept 16-17
By Melissa Tan, The Business Times, 15 Sep 2015

THE ruling party's surprisingly strong showing in this year's general election (GE) could briefly lift local shares this week but any boost will probably be short-lived, analysts say, noting that external factors such as a looming US interest rate hike continue to weigh down the market.

When the market opened on Monday, the benchmark Straits Times Index appeared largely unmoved. It started out marginally lower at 2,885.85 points - 0.09 per cent down from Thursday's close, continued to languish for the rest of the day, before finishing 0.6 per cent lower at 2,871.47 points.

The analysts added that the unexpected landslide victory for the People's Action Party (PAP) suggests that it has found an optimal balance for economic policies over the past four years and will likely stick to that winning formula, especially when it comes to domestic restructuring.

Brokerage research houses said in their Monday morning notes that the PAP's 69.9 per cent vote share in GE 2015 could give the downbeat Straits Times Index (STI) a small shot in the arm, although they cautioned that this optimism could fade before the end of the week.

"Given the bolstered confidence in the PAP and in Singapore's future among investors, we believe that the market would react positively to this on first take on Monday, but taper off subsequently with global rate hike concerns," RHB said, flagging the US Federal Reserve policy meeting on Sept 16-17.

It said several "Singapore Inc" companies could do well, naming banks such as DBS and OCBC, telcos as well as infrastructure-related stocks such as Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Industries.

UOB Kay Hian also said that the GE outcome would be "mildly market positive", but cautioned that it had found "no discernible patterns" in the stockmarket's performance after previous GEs. The key drivers for local shares tend to be external factors and corporate earnings growth, it noted, adding: "Sectors that could see longer-term impact from potential tweaks in government policies include property and land transport."

DBS Group Research also said that any "positive reaction" would probably not last long because the market's attention was now on the outcome of the Fed meeting. "We maintain our STI range from 2,750 to 3,050 . . . The local equity market lacks positive catalysts amid rising risks of a technical recession in Q3 and ongoing macro uncertainties."

Economists expect the ruling party to stick to its economic policy trajectory of the past four years, without any overt shift to populism. Although the strong mandate handed to the PAP last Friday could give it more room for flexibility in modifying existing measures based on incoming data, the party is unlikely to reverse policies, they said.

"I don't think the government, having regained the trust of voters, is about to U-turn . . . they won't shoot themselves in the foot," CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun told The Business Times. "The coming Budget may again see relatively 'left-leaning' proposals to continue to win hearts and minds."

UOB economist Francis Tan also told BT that the ruling party was likely to continue with more "social-oriented" policies, though he added that this should not be taken to imply that it was giving up on helping companies. Concerns about hikes in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and more foreign labour curbs are also probably misplaced, he said, adding: "They will be looking to grow the pie rather than to change the share of the pie."

DBS said in a separate note that perhaps the only "contentious issue" left unresolved for the local population is the reliability of the public transport system. "A review of the existing privatised business model may be warranted in this regard."

Fiscal policies aside, economists were divided on whether the GE outcome could point to Sing dollar easing by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, with a month to go before the central bank's October meeting.

Citi economist Kit Wei Zheng noted that an increase in the PAP's vote share has been correlated in the past with Sing dollar easing, since the party has historically fared better when the economy is weak.

"We would not rule out that better sentiment following the election results together with elevated risks from the global event calendar could trigger a position adjustment that could drive Sing dollar strength in the short run. However, given the strong US dollar backdrop and investors likely to conclude that the election results will slightly increase the odds of MAS easing in October on reduced political constraints, a strong SGD NEER (nominal effective exchange rate) trend should not be sustained."

However, Barclays economists said in a note that they expect the central bank to maintain its Sing dollar policy, saying that economic growth and inflation "have fallen by more than expected this year, but not by enough to trigger further easing".

Singapore Government 'likely to spend on social policies'
But changes to property cooling measures not expected: Analysts
By Chia Yan Min, The Straits Times, 14 Sep 2015

Expect social spending in the wake of the People's Action Party's victory in the Sept 11 General Election, economists say, but no immediate changes to the property cooling measures.

Economists note that the party's overwhelming win can be interpreted as an endorsement from voters of the Government's "shift to the left" in recent years.

The results show "some recognition that policies are moving in the right direction", said OCBC economist Selena Ling.

The Government is expected to continue spending more on key initiatives such as tackling bread-and- butter issues for the ageing population and developing and deepening Singaporeans' skills, she added.

CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said voters were responding to the perception of a government that is "still fairly pragmatic and prudent, but willing to open its purse strings more".

"It has already set the direction with policy shifts in recent years. In the coming years, we can expect a leaning towards more wealth taxes, and having wealthier people contribute more."

However, this does not mean the Government will adopt a more populist approach, said DBS economist Irvin Seah. Rather, it means that the composition of government spending will be tilted towards addressing social issues rather than towards ramping up economic growth.

"Social expenditure will rise but won't reach a point where it becomes unmanageable. There will still be a guiding principle of maintaining prudent fiscal policy."

Ms Ling noted that strong wins in key constituencies - such as in Jurong GRC, where a team led by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam won 79.28 per cent of the votes - pointed to a "clear understanding" among voters that even with more social safety nets in place, government spending must remain sustainable.

"People are quite level-headed; they know we have to remain fiscally prudent," she said.

As far as property cooling measures go, analysts said the Government is unlikely to be in a hurry to lift them, preferring to see how much more prices will fall. By the second quarter of this year, they had declined 6.7 per cent since the peak in 2013.

The Government will be mindful of when the United States raises interest rates as well.

The electorate also responded to recent policy shifts on hot-button issues such as housing and foreign manpower, analysts said.

While moves to tighten the inflow of foreign workers have resonated with voters over the past few years, it remains to be seen if the Government will maintain the status quo or further fine-tune manpower policies, said UOB economist Francis Tan.

Given slowing local resident employment growth, there is a limit to how much more policymakers will be able to tighten the tap on foreign manpower without worsening the labour shortage and negatively affecting the economy, he noted.

There may, instead, be a move towards more sector-specific or job-specific manpower policies, to give certain companies more leeway to hire foreign workers when they struggle to find Singaporeans.

DBS' Mr Seah said the election results reflect a more nuanced understanding of immigration and labour issues among Singaporeans.

"People are beginning to realise that we do need foreign workers - transient workers who take up jobs that Singaporeans shun, as well as skilled immigrants who sink roots here," he said.

"The last thing you want is to be perceived as a xenophobic society. The election results show that Singaporeans are pragmatic and rational people who take a long-term view on many issues."

Economists also said that the Government is unlikely to raise the goods and services tax in the near future.

"It will come, of course, but not before bread-and-butter issues such as healthcare costs and infrastructure are addressed more thoroughly," said CIMB's Mr Song.

"Policy-wise, the Singapore exception posed a formidable challenge to Western democracies including the United States."
Posted by The Diplomat Magazine on Saturday, September 19, 2015

Liberal reflections on loss and acceptance in GE2015
By Eleanor Wong, Published The Straits Times, 16 Sep 2015

The People's Action Party's (PAP) political narrative for Singapore has always insisted on our exceptionalism. For the longest time, I had suspected that this was just an excuse to impose an unnatural dominance on the populace. I had assumed and hoped that, given time, given information and given choice, Singapore would one day become a democratic society like any other - with more than one strong political party, all realistically vying for power, ensuring diversity and providing checks on each other.

But I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong.

In the Sept 11, 2015 General Election, voters gave the PAP 69.9 per cent of valid votes, an increase of 9.8 percentage points from 2011. They handed 83 of 89 seats to the PAP. This wasn't just a national swing to the PAP. This wasn't just a vote in favour of the ruling party's policies over those offered by other parties. This wasn't even about picking the group at municipal level that best proves itself at the hustings or on the ground thereafter.

Such analyses try to shoehorn the facts into the framework of a typical democracy. They miss the point entirely.

This was a vote confirming the type of system that Singaporeans want to live under.

Of course, the number of Parliamentary seats has not changed significantly from 2011 (when there were also six opposition seats). But, by giving the ruling party nearly 70 per cent of the popular vote, Singaporeans are essentially saying that they do not want to move towards a system where any other party has a realistic chance of taking over any time in the foreseeable future.

In fact, contrary to views at the time, 2011 was not a watershed or inflection point marking the start of an upward climb for the opposition. Rather, 2001 may have been a bottom inflection point and 2011 marked the top of the curve. If I am right, barring seismic events, the PAP's share of the popular vote is destined to oscillate (by five to six points) around the fulcrum of 66.6 per cent attained in 2006.

Singaporeans want a monolithic government. They are comfortable with power consolidating in the hands of very few, presumably in the interests of effectiveness and efficiency. They do not believe that leaders necessarily govern better if they must answer, day to day, matter to matter, to critics. They do not generally require diversity of views for its own sake.

Singaporeans have freely chosen to be governed by an entrenched elite aristocracy. Singapore may well be the only country in the world that, offered a truly free and informed choice, has so chosen.

An aristocracy need not be of noble birth; according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an aristocracy is "government by the best individuals or by a small privileged class". By this definition, the PAP and its ruling class constitute a political aristocracy.

And regardless of what critics might say, Singaporeans this time round definitely had access to the information necessary to choose.

Social media and technology levelled any communication advantage that the PAP might have had in the past. Education and voter maturity have reduced fear as a motivating factor.

Opposition parties gave us credible alternatives and made cogent arguments why they, rather than the PAP's picks, should be given our mandate.

Singapore voters rejected these choices without coercion.

Does that mean Singaporeans don't want democracy at all?

I don't think so. But I am ready to admit that maybe it means Singaporeans do want our own brand of democracy, one that is compatible with entrenched aristocracy.

The problem then is that the models of democracy out there (including the one we currently have) may not meet our needs.

All these models rely on a realistic chance of displacing incumbents to generate certain conditions crucial to a functioning democracy.

There are at least two such conditions.

First, having a body of "professional oppositionists" whose "job" is to provide well-thought-through alternative views that challenge and thus help refine the status quo.

Second, the strong incentive for transparency and honesty that comes from knowing that internal workings will be thrown open to external scrutiny upon regime change. It would be dangerous for us to simply assume that these conditions will be generated by our Westminster parliamentary democracy, if we consistently signal that we do not intend to check our elected political aristocracy with a strong challenger in Parliament.

If voters consistently show they are willing to consolidate the political dominance of the PAP, where, apart from elected opposition, can we build pluralism? How else can we generate conditions of transparency?

I believe we must seriously explore how to generate these conditions in some other way. Either by strengthening existing institutions (such as civil society, the presidency, the media, the judiciary) or by creating new ones (such as an ombudsman or other mechanisms that don't yet exist elsewhere).

Crucially, whatever means we choose, we must insist that these institutions be given legal and political teeth; they must be independent from the political aristocracy, be empowered to work openly, and have direct access to the public, such that we have the benefit of their guidance whenever we head to the polls. If we then choose, in our own unique way, to endorse our aristocracy, we do so on a free and informed basis.

We need to understand what GE2015 tells us. And then we need to be brave enough, Singaporeans, governed and governors together - to imagine a system, perhaps one quite different from any other in the world, that addresses what Singaporeans clearly want, but that also protects our democracy.

The writer, a lawyer and playwright, is an associate professor at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.

Strengthen institutions to make them last

No one form of democracy fits all.

Thus, we should tailor one that suits our unique circumstances.

Nevertheless, the results of the 2015 General Election do show how we are progressing towards democracy ("Liberal reflections on loss and acceptance in GE2015"; Wednesday).

Our country's history is short. Unlike many countries founded on revolutionary fervour that overthrew oppressive regimes of their time, our history offers none of the Mandelas or Gandhis that galvanised the masses into achieving independence.

On relative terms, our ascendance to nationhood was peaceful. We observed "people power" from a distance and could not fathom it happening here, where rights were not achieved through struggles.

Our political consciousness remains low as a result of our education, which is largely apolitical, either by design or otherwise.

We have not been raised on an "inalienable right to free speech", nor do we mull over what constitutionality means to us lay folk in the street. Checks and balances remain abstract.

The salutary neglect may have served us well. We achieved First World status quickly, devoid of ceaseless political wrangling or filibustering in Parliament. 

Economic and social policies were speedily implemented.

We "struggled" in the factories and offices, to the envy of compatriots from elsewhere.

Thus, we witnessed how efficiency has taken us to the Promised Land. What fills our national psyche has been largely bread-and-butter concerns. We are, therefore, predisposed to "play it safe" when it comes to voting. 

But with increased affluence and a burgeoning middle class who are well travelled and informed, the ideals of what the Promised Land means take on different hues and colours.

The young and old, rich and poor, those who are single and those who are married will have their own views of the ideal society. Our discourse on the ideal society, which includes governance, will become more diverse.

As we sort out the social compact between governors and governed, the status quo remains.

Institutions that outlast people or political parties should be created or strengthened, so that diverse voices can be heard, if we are to call ourselves an inclusive and First World society.

The evolutionary path towards democracy is not on a straight-line trajectory. We may move forward, backwards or to the side.

One thing is for sure, the 2015 General Election is not the final step in this evolutionary process.

Lee Teck Chuan
ST Forum, 18 Sep 2015

What next for the PAP and Opposition?
By Samuel Chan, Published TODAY, 17 Sep 2015

Singaporeans have endorsed the People’s Action Party (PAP) to lead the country with a renewed, stronger five-year mandate. The ruling party’s impressive box-score entry for General Election (GE) 2015 reads 83 of 89 parliamentary seats and 69.9 per cent of the popular vote, the second-highest tally in the last eight elections.

With an almost 10 percentage point swing back to the PAP, the Opposition is no doubt feeling more than a little browbeaten. But the main Opposition Workers’ Party (WP) did retain six of its seven seats, a signal that voters still value their presence in Parliament.

Some observers believe the result of GE2015 is good for Singapore, ensuring that the PAP and WP will continue to work hard for the electorate for different reasons: The PAP to maintain its mandate, and the WP to chip away at the ruling party’s dominance. Yet, others argue that the unexpectedly high vote share given to the PAP is a step back in the democratic process and could curb the growth of an emerging Opposition.

It is clear that a great deal of work lies ahead on both sides of the political divide — to reform, refresh or rejuvenate — as they seek to represent Singaporeans in the next few years.


The PAP has secured the political capital to manoeuvre and prepare for the much-anticipated transition to a fourth-generation leadership. Several new ministers from the 2011 batch have earned their stripes in testing appointments and some of the new faces elected last week will enter the ministerial crucible soon enough.

The highly anticipated Cabinet reshuffle will provide an indication of the team that will lead Singapore forward, and it would be useful to watch who among the fourth-generation leaders are entrusted with heavyweight portfolios. Another indicator of leadership within party ranks would probably come next year as new members are elected and co-opted into the PAP’s Central Executive Committee.

Those tapped by the Prime Minister to helm a ministry or even two are certainly aware that the myriad of outstanding pre-election issues — from domestic concerns such as public transport woes, job security, infrastructure development and immigration to economic and geopolitical uncertainties — have not disappeared. Segments of the population may be willing to forgo a stronger Opposition presence in Parliament, but all Singaporeans certainly expect the challenges to be satisfactorily addressed in the months ahead.

PAP leaders have said they will not rest on the laurels of GE2015. The polity is certainly cognisant that the 9.76 percentage-point swing in popular vote cannot be attributed solely to an endorsement of its policies and performances since the last election in 2011.

Some voters were genuinely concerned about the possibility of a freak election where the PAP would not form the Government — even though the possibility was as remote as snowfall in Singapore — with the unprecedented contest of all 89 parliamentary seats. Furthermore, the celebratory vibes of SG50 and the deference due to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew were also significant factors.

The PAP will need to ensure they fix the problems with greater transparency in decision-making, increased consultation with the population and humility among its members to sustain the ostensibly high levels of support. Indeed, a big win comes with even bigger expectations from the electorate to deliver results. The cost of inaction will otherwise be borne by the next generation of leaders and the price will be paid at the next election.


GE2015 was not a fruitful expedition for the conglomerate of Opposition groups, which witnessed an attenuation of votes despite contesting every parliamentary seat. Hard-core Opposition supporters were unflinching but they proved inadequate in number.

Several factors prompted the broad swathe of swing voters to choose the PAP. Some could be satisfied with how the Government solved policy missteps and sought to answer the Prime Minister’s clarion call for a strong mandate to assemble a new team to chart Singapore’s future. Some could also be affected by the town council management issue that cast aspersions on the integrity and ability of incumbent Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs).

But the past five years also caused voters to reflect on whether an election was about selecting quality candidates or the only means to signal displeasure with the ruling party. As the Opposition made inroads in GE2011, some began to question if the Opposition’s purpose as an alternative should go beyond making requests for information and asking questions in Parliament.

Although the Opposition, especially the WP, fielded some credible candidates who are on a par with the PAP’s slate, it was not enough to sway the voters.

Translating crowds and Internet traffic into votes also proved elusive. The clamour of the election campaigns over nine days proved to be false dawns. Some attracted crowds at rallies based on rhetoric but not substance. The use of social media also did not reap as much returns for the Opposition as it did in 2011 because Internet users are more sophisticated, able to differentiate between hype and those who could address core issues.

The challenge ahead for the Opposition is to ensure they present genuine competition to the PAP at the next ballot box, even though GE2015 results indicate an electorate that does not have the stomach for more Opposition MPs. What then is the future of the various parties?

While larger parties such as the WP are likely to survive by attracting new members and avoiding a mass exodus, the smaller and less popular parties have tough choices of merging into larger parties or risk disintegrating into insignificant cabals.

Yet these challenges are not insurmountable. The next phase is conducive for separating those with conviction from the opportunist “fly-by-night” free-riders. The determined will continue to work the ground while those who seek easy gains will resurface less frequently than the Olympic Games and only when personal rewards are ripe.

It is also a time for the parties to ponder their place in the hearts of voters and how to engage the electorate on the need for a stronger Opposition.

There will be some who are disappointed that the Opposition did not make greater inroads, and others elated with the PAP’s electoral bonanza. But who the citizens supported at the ballot box is also irrelevant as GE2015 enters the annals of history.

What matters now is how Singaporeans band together regardless of political leaning and support the country’s progress as another chapter begins.

Dr Samuel Chan, a Singaporean, is an adjunct lecturer with the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

After PAP's big win, avoid pitfalls of dominant parties
By Norshahril Saat, Published The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2015

Dominant political groups in South-east Asia, such as Indonesia's Golkar (The Party of Functional Groups) and Malaysia's BN (National Front) are weakening.

By contrast, the performance of the People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore's 2015 General Election demonstrates that dominant parties have a future.

In the 1970s to 1990s, Golkar, with support from the army, monopolised Indonesian politics. But today, it is a fragmented party in the legislative assembly under the Joko Widodo government.

Similarly, BN today is far weaker compared to its days during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's leadership. Since the 2008 elections, it has failed to win a two-thirds majority in Parliament; and in the 2013 elections, did not attain half of the popular votes. With the recent alleged scandals beleaguering Prime Minister Najib Razak, the ruling coalition has to quickly regain Malaysians' trust before the next elections.

Unlike BN and Golkar, the PAP in last week's election increased its share of popular votes by nearly 10 percentage points, and wrested back Punggol East constituency from the Workers' Party. The Prime Minister and his two deputies led resounding victories in the constituencies they contested.

Despite hostility shown towards dominant parties in many countries elsewhere, the PAP clearly had a winning strategy. The PAP clawed back from many setbacks in the 2011 General Election. But this is not without the PAP having to constantly change its winning formula. What works in 2015 may not work for the next elections.

The Malaysian and Indonesian dominant political groups show that the failure to adjust and complacency could drastically lead to a bigger swing towards the opposition.

One key ingredient of the PAP's success this time is its humility. PAP candidates' comments after their remarkable victory last Friday sang a similar tune: They are humbled by the strong mandate and will work harder.

Nevertheless, the PAP must not take Singaporeans' support for granted because it should recall BN's experience. In 2004, Tun Abdullah Badawi led BN to its biggest electoral victory since Independence, winning 90 per cent of seats in Parliament - only to record its worst showing four years later.

Between 2004 and 2008, BN was out of touch with the masses, and could not quell the opposition's rise. The ruling coalition failed to unite the masses as the country witnessed its worst ethnic tensions since May 13, 1969. The BN did not recover and did worse in 2013.

Conversely, being in touch with the masses propelled Mr Joko to become Indonesia's seventh president. His blusukan (surprise visits to meet the people) became extremely popular with the masses as he was able to avoid bureaucratic red tape in finding the roots to problems. Recently, President Joko visited an area in South Sumatra to understand and devise solutions to tackle forest burning which has resulted in severe haze affecting the region.

Apart from SG50 Jubilee Year celebrations and sympathy votes after the death of Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, credit must go to the PAP's massive efforts in reaching out to the masses immediately after the 2011 elections, when it suffered its worst electoral result.

In 2012, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat led the Our Singapore Conversation to understand people's concerns through dialogues. The challenge is for such conversations to continue, to help the leaders remain in touch with the masses, ensuring that the lives of the Singapore core are not neglected.

The emergence of promising new faces in the party also contributed to the PAP's revival. They are professionals and former civil servants who have worked closely with the grassroots.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's promise of leadership renewal appears to have resonated among the masses.

The party will likely promote three to four newcomers to ministerial positions. A smooth transition is expected, allowing current ministers to mentor newcomers, and conduct a reshuffle mid-term, with the new ones replacing older ministers in the last third of the term.

This is in sharp contrast to the way leadership renewal has been a major stumbling block for BN and Golkar; both do not have any potential young successors. For example, Datuk Seri Najib had to turn to an Umno old guard in the latest Cabinet reshuffle and to replace Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

In short, the increase in support for the PAP can be seen as a vote for the ways the party has reinvented itself since the 2011 elections. The increase in votes, however, is not an endorsement of all its policies.

The electorate appreciates the PAP's willingness to listen, but the party must also engage with alternative policies raised by the opposition during their rallies, as well as those raised on social media.

The attendance at and cheers given to the opposition during the nine-day campaigning show that there is support for what the opposition have to offer, though they cannot be measured in vote counts. Totally dismissing these ground sentiments may result in a similar fate like what BN suffered in 2008.

As the country unites post-GE 2015, the PAP has to live up to its promise, "With you, For you, For Singapore".

The writer is a Fellow with the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute. He works on Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesian politics.

The PAP needs new social compact with Singaporeans, says former MP Inderjit Singh
By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2015

Former People's Action Party (PAP) MP Inderjit Singh has given his take on the 2015 General Election, in a lengthy Facebook post.

The vocal former MP said in Thursday's (Sept 17) post, which is more than 3,700 words long, that not withstanding the landslide victory won by the PAP in the Sept 11 polls, the ruling party needs to "develop a new social compact with Singaporeans".

He added: "The strength of a compact can give the current PAP leadership the same strength as the compact the pioneer PAP leaders developed, which gave the PAP leaders 40 years of trust of the people."

Many have reflected in the GE2015 outcome, I am sharing my views here, GE 2015 Analysis Introduction The GE2015...
Posted by Inderjit Singh on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the post, he analysed why there was an almost 10 per cent swing in the vote share back to the PAP, after a 2011 election which saw its vote share fall to 60.1 per cent, the lowest in a general election since independence.

Mr Singh admitted that he too was surprised by the election results. On Cooling-off Day, he still felt that the opposition could have gained some seats, and the PAP vote share would be around 60 per cent, he said.

But he went on to list the reasons for the PAP's victory, but said that there are "underlying issues the PAP should not ignore".

He wrote: "The PAP leadership has been handed a second chance to change its approach to build greater trust from Singaporeans. Failure to change and sticking to the old ways will be disastrous and the PAP should not betray the trust Singaporeans have placed in them as shown by this resounding victory in GE2015."

He also urged all Singaporeans to stand together after the election: "For now, I urge all Singaporeans to come together and work towards Singapore's progress for the well-being of all Singaporeans. The elections are over, let's all stand together as one united people for our country. Majulah Singapura!"

Mr Singh, 55, who was a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC from 1997 to 2015, announced in July that he would be stepping down before the 2015 election.

Good communication strategy powered PAP win
By Marcus Loh, Published The Straits Times, 18 Sep 2015

In the new normal of personality politics, General Election 2015 was a lesson for those who believe in the power of communication and brand strategy, and those who take the concept of unpolished, authentic leadership all too literally.

Last week, Singaporeans had front-row seats to the "heat and clash" of politics, a phrase which founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once used to describe Singapore's desire for political competition. In GE2015, the People's Action Party (PAP) saw a 9.8 percentage point surge in votes, retained Potong Pasir and wrested Punggol East from the Workers' Party (WP). The opposition, on the other hand, was, in the words of political pundits, "shell-shocked".

The case for storytelling for brands and organisations is well established. At the crux of a great story lies a narrative which is both compelling and consistent. I shall venture to explain three key factors in communication (among others) that contributed to the PAP's win.


PAP's manifesto, themed "With you, for you, for Singapore", was carefully leveraged on the mood of the day - the electorate's desire for consultative, servant leadership, confidence in the PAP's track record of more than 50 years, and a keen sense of consciousness of the socio-political uncertainties in the region.

From the onset, PAP established itself as an underdog, a position that the opposition had embraced in GE2011. The party demonstrated how much it listened, acted on feedback and asserted that despite doing so, there was more to be done. It was a message that appealed not only to PAP supporters, but also struck a conciliatory tone with fence-sitters.

In contrast, the opposition had decided early on to take its people's movement further by contesting all 89 constituencies.

The first phase of GE2015 saw the opposition parties put forth policy alternatives while hammering away at the establishment with critiques on the cost of living, the country's wealth gap and foreign immigrant inflow. To these attacks, there was no immediate response from the PAP.

It was only after the party had entrenched itself as a servant leader that the PAP upped the ante at the midway mark of GE2015. As a curtain-raiser to what was to come, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is anchor minister for Jurong GRC, launched a point-by-point rebuttal to the opposition's policy alternatives. The next day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong led the party into high gear with his milestone rally at noon, followed by precision strikes from PAP big guns in the evening.

Resembling a military campaign, the PAP Government blanketed national sentiment with air cover, "With you, for you, for Singapore". The country remained receptive to such a manifesto, as it embraced Singapore's achievements and promise early on during the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

There were boots on the ground during the campaign period with the slog and sprints from house-to-house visits; and finally, there was a responsive team of social media guerillas, which was much less visible in GE2011, when opposition supporters were more active online.


A second factor that could have contributed to PAP's win was the astute way in which it harnessed its portfolio of brand personas in the party. Not to be bogged down by tactical potshots, PM Lee focused on laying out a compelling vision for Singapore as the country moved towards a more uncertain future, while calling for a strong mandate to form the fourth-generation leadership team.

The anchor ministers for Nee Soon and Holland-Bukit Timah GRCs, Mr K. Shanmugam and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, led the offensives against the opposition's seeming deficiency in character and accountability - from the mismanagement of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), to the ouster of Mr Chiam See Tong by Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan.

Specific to the contest for Punggol East SMC and Aljunied GRC, PAP focused on the AHPETC issue, with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, anchor minister for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, and Mr Charles Chong, candidate for Punggol East, leading the charge.

In the battle for the people's minds, Mr Tharman focused on the merits of PAP policies and the flaws of the opposition's, while Mr Lim Swee Say, anchor minister for East Coast GRC, tackled sensitive topics such as Singapore's foreign immigrant policy. By having a set of clearly defined roles for its members, PAP was not only able to rise above the fray, but it was also able to respond quickly to opposition attacks without distracting the electorate from the big picture.


A third factor that cost votes for the opposition was some "own goals". At the strategic level, WP did not live up to its vision for a "First World Parliament".

Watch WP chairman Sylvia Lim suggest that protests be allowed on the streets of Singapore to enable our riot police to "practise". And when questioned by Law Minister Shanmugam about impropriety in AHPETC, the party's Mr Pritam Singh responded: "Well, minister, if you were my resident, I will answer you."

In another blunder by the opposition, the people's movement in 2011 had been allowed to escalate in 2015 to one which aimed to displace the Government - at a time when voters were clearly not ready for it.

In this election, voters were treated to a compelling narrative, a coordinated campaign, and a brand portfolio strategy on the part of the PAP that leveraged on candidates' different brand personas.

The writer is head of public and analyst relations in Asia Pacific for Tableau, an American data analytics firm.

Ten reflections on GE 2015: Tommy Koh
Response to voter concerns, election strategy among the factors that helped PAP win big
By Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Published The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2015

On Cooling-off Day, a good friend invited me to lunch with a group of eminent Singaporeans. I decided to use them as a focus group and asked them to predict whether the PAP's popular vote would go up or down.

The majority said it would go down. I asked them whether the PAP would lose any more seats to the opposition. The majority predicted that the PAP would lose one group representation constituency (GRC) and one single-member constituency (SMC).

Like the pundits and the bookies, my friends at lunch were wrong in their prognosis. The following are 10 of my reflections on the People's Action Party's surprising and extraordinary victory.


First, 2015 is not an ordinary year. It is our Golden Jubilee year. Singaporeans from all walks of life, and of different political persuasions, are very proud of what we have achieved in the past 50 years.

The SG50 Steering Committee has adopted a low-key, bottoms-up and people-centric approach to the year-long celebrations. The positive mood was boosted by the excellent performance of our athletes at the SEA Games, and by the conferment of World Heritage status on our beloved Botanic Gardens by Unesco.

Anyone who attended the National Day Parade would have been inspired by the pride, patriotism and unity of the occasion. I am sure that SG50 increased the popularity of the PAP at the polls.


Second, I think that the Lee Kuan Yew factor played a part in the electoral success of the PAP. Mr Lee's passing triggered a spontaneous outpouring of love and respect for him by Singaporeans. The people of Singapore acknowledged that the success of Singapore was due, in large part, to the vision, courage and determination of Mr Lee and the other founding fathers.

I am sure that some of the goodwill for Mr Lee was transferred to the political party that he founded and led. The combination of the first and second factors made 2015 an exceptionally good year for the PAP. Tactically, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was right to hold the election this year, instead of next year.


Third, the opposition made a big mistake in contesting all 89 seats in Parliament. Although many of the candidates, from parties other than the Workers' Party (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), had no prospect of winning, the fact that all seats were contested made it possible for the PAP to warn against a freak election.

The bottom line is that, while the electorate wants a credible, constructive and responsible opposition in Parliament, it also wants the PAP to continue to form the government. If the opposition had been wiser, it would have refrained from contesting 45 of the 89 seats so that, on Nomination Day, the PAP would have won enough seats to form the government. In such a scenario, the electorate would have been more at ease in voting for good opposition candidates.


Fourth, since 2011, the Government has done several very significant things to win the hearts and minds of senior citizens. The Pioneer Generation Package, MediShield Life, and the Silver Support Scheme have been very well received. The belated recognition of the pioneers and their contributions to Singapore has touched the hearts of many older Singaporeans.

My hypothesis is that the majority of the half a million voters, over the age of 65, would have voted for the PAP.


Fifth, the PAP has brought relief to three of the pain points that emerged in the 2011 General Election. These are housing, immigration and transport. National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has increased the supply of public housing, and cooled the overheated property market.

The Government has also reduced the intake of foreign workers. Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew worked very hard on both the bus system and the MRT system. He has brought relief to the bus system. The problem of the frequent breakdown of our train system has, however, not yet been solved, in spite of his best efforts.

On the three pain points, the PAP has brought relief to two-and-a-half of them. The electorate, which is fair-minded, has therefore decided to reward the PAP for having listened to its concerns and for responding to them.


Sixth, the PAP has also responded to the growing concerns about inequality in Singapore. It has introduced schemes like Workfare and the Progressive Wage Model.

It has opened two schools for students who failed their Primary School Leaving Examination, or PSLE. It has upgraded the quality of technical and vocational education offered by our Institute of Technical Education. It has introduced a new educational initiative called SkillsFuture, based on the successful apprenticeship system in Germany and Switzerland. It has expanded its support for early education.

It has also reassured the public that social mobility is well, and stronger, in Singapore than in Europe and America. Therefore, although Singapore continues to be a very unequal society, and life is hard for the bottom 30 per cent of our population, the Government was given credit by the electorate for the many initiatives it has taken to address the problem.


Seventh, the ascendance of the WP was seriously affected by the PAP's allegation that it had mismanaged the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, and that it had exposed an integrity issue.

Although the WP rebutted the PAP's allegation and had, in turn, accused the PAP of bullying and using the town council system to impede the progress of the opposition, the exchange left some voters in doubt about the competence and integrity of the WP. This factor could have explained the loss of Punggol East, the drop in the support for the WP in Hougang and Aljunied GRC, and its failure to capture East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC.

Going forward, it is important for the WP to clear its name, and to restore the electorate's faith in its competence and integrity.


Eighth, the PAP did a better job managing the electoral campaign this year than in 2011.

PAP organising secretary Ng Eng Hen proved to be a capable campaign manager. Although the PAP was outgunned by the opposition in the staging of rallies, it devoted more manpower and resources to door-to-door campaigning and retail diplomacy. The party also decided to capitalise on the popularity of PM Lee by putting up his poster in every constituency.

It was like a referendum on him, and it could have backfired. Fortunately for the PAP, the strategy seemed to have paid off.


Ninth, the sentiments of the electorate have always been affected by the external environment. The 2001 GE is a case in point.

Following the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the electorate rallied to the PAP, which has a good track record of keeping peace at home, and a strong defence against any external threat. In that election, the PAP's popular vote was 75.3 per cent.

In this election, the PAP's narrative about the terrorist threat from ISIS and the uncertain global economy worked to its advantage.


Tenth, I am glad that the PAP leader whose team scored the highest popular vote of 79 per cent was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. He was always calm and measured.

He never uttered an insult or a threat.

Instead, he explained the PAP's policies and rebutted the alternatives put forward by the opposition in a clear and rational way. He was intellectually brilliant but came across as humble and open-minded.

I hope other politicians would seek to emulate him.

The writer is a Special Adviser at the Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

The strategic voter in the 'new normal'
In the 'new normal' of Singapore politics, expect voters to be strategic, using their vote to push for the outcome they want. Voters' support is conditional and can change from election to election
By Chan Heng Chee, Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology, Published The Straits Times, 19 Sep 2015

On the Monday after General Election 2015, I brought a humble pie to my office.

Like so many analysts on the elections, I did not see it coming - that the PAP would have a landslide victory winning 69.9 per cent of the votes, regaining the seat it lost in the by-election of 2013, Punggol East, and not yielding another group representation constituency (GRC).

The leading opposition party, the Workers' Party (WP), saw its share of the votes cut back from 46.6 per cent in 2011 to 39.75 per cent in 2015 and lost one seat, leaving it with six in a House of 89.

Interestingly, a cab driver who took me to my destination in Orchard Road on Cooling-off Day was nearer the mark in his prediction. He told me the PAP would get 65 per cent of the vote. He hoped there would be a few opposition members in Parliament.

The PAP's vote would improve as "they have done some things after 2011, not everything, it could be improved, but they have done things and people will give them their vote".

He pointed out housing as an area of great improvement. More housing had come on the market and young couples did not have to wait for too long to be able to buy a flat. He speculated that GST would be raised by the end of the year.

Mr Cabby said he used to run a small laundry business but, a couple of years ago, it became very hard for him because he could not hire foreign labour to help. He decided to close the business and became a taxi driver.

A slew of analyses on the general election has been published on why the PAP rolled back the trend of declining electoral support in the last two general elections and by-election. I believe three factors more than others contributed to the huge swing.

First, as everyone acknowledges, the PAP Government took the loss of the vote in 2011 to heart and began a national conversation to learn more about what the people wanted. Most importantly, the PAP changed and adjusted existing policies. This led to a heightened focus on redistributive policies, leading commentators to talk of the leftward socialist drift of the PAP.

Second, there is no doubt the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had a major impact, bringing the country together and subduing divisive, negative narratives that had dominated our daily conversation and the social media.

His death activated the innate good sense in Singaporeans and gave us perspective to look at what the tiny Republic had achieved over the past 50 years, and what he and his extraordinary team had done against all odds. The Lee Kuan Yew factor was present, even if subconscious, in the minds of many who went to the polls , which helped the PAP.

Third, and most importantly, in the course of the election campaign the WP changed tack, departing from its position that voters should vote for the WP for a check on the ruling party in Parliament. The message then turned into "entrench the opposition" and the WP spoke of taking over a couple of other GRCs and seats.

Other opposition parties, the Singapore Democratic Party and Singaporeans First, alluded to a coalition of opposition parties to lead the next government. The prospect of a sudden large increase of opposition members in Parliament, and a weakening of the PAP, may have alarmed the swing voter or silent majority.

People want some opposition in Parliament but, at this point in time, are not yet comfortable with the idea of a substantial opposition that would slow down the governing party and prevent it from taking initiatives that may be good for the country.


Since 2011, commentators have used the term "new normal" to describe the break from the overwhelming dominance of the PAP in Parliament.

That dominance began after independence. In the first post-independence general election in 1968, with the anxieties of separation , the entire population united behind the Government. The PAP garnered 84.4 per cent of the vote.

The Barisan Sosialis, the leading opposition at that time, had resigned from Parliament in 1966 and boycotted the elections, decrying Singapore's independence as "phoney".

This left Singapore with a single party in Parliament for the first time in its history. Elections through the decades saw only two to four seats falling to the opposition. Meanwhile, politics and the electorate in Singapore have changed. In 2011, the WP won in the Aljunied GRC and kept Hougang SMC, giving it six seats to the PAP's 81.

With Punggol East going to WP in the by-election of 2013, the tide in Singapore politics appeared to be shifting , finally moving towards more contestation, and politics was said to be "normalising". So the "new normal" was to expect the ruling party to lose more votes and possibly more seats.

But it did not play out that way in this general election.

In fact, Mr Low Thia Khiang, the WP's leader, may have been prescient when he said during his Sunday morning thank-you parade in Punggol East in 2013 that the by-election was not indicative of trends at future polls. He may have shrewdly understood that the Singapore electorate does not want to be faced with new uncertainties. They still wanted the PAP as Government.

How is one to read the 2015 General Election results?

Singaporeans are today better educated, well-informed and much travelled. The electorate is sophisticated and discerning. We are rational, pragmatic and fair.

All this produces a strategic voter. There are party loyalists in any country, of course, and they will vote for their party, no matter rain or shine. But the bulk of the Singapore voters will use their vote strategically to push for the outcome they wish for.

If the PAP is responsive and going in the direction they want, they will support the governing party. If the PAP does not listen or heed their voices, support will be withdrawn.

In 2011, the PAP was seen to be going in the wrong direction and the electorate punished the party. In 2015, the PAP was seen to be going in the right direction, and the party saw a huge swing back in its favour. The voters' support is always conditional - as they say, "it depends".

So at each general election the votes must be fought for and won.

What's next for the opposition?

The landslide victory for the PAP does not mean the opposition has been sidelined. It is a good thing that the WP was re-elected in Aljunied GRC. It would not have been good for Singapore if we went back to the situation of one opposition member in Parliament. We have evolved beyond that.

My taxi driver could see we need some opposition in Parliament. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam made it a point to reiterate after the general election that the opposition can "play a constructive and positive role in Singapore politics, as they must".

So in the "new normal" of Singapore politics, expect the "old normal" but with an electorate that is now more demanding, seeking participation (a voice), and more accountability than ever before.

And heartland culture was in full expression.

The campaign saw far more dialect, Malay, Mandarin and Singlish used to reach out to the crowds. After the election results, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has promised that, going forward, he and his team will continue to emphasise inclusiveness, openness and citizen involvement.

The PAP, the opposition and voters all live in exciting times, as we try out the limits of the "new normal".

The writer chairs the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the Singapore University of Technology and Design. She is the author of the award-winning book, The Dynamics Of One Party Dominance: The PAP At The Grassroots (1978).

What's next after GE2015?
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

One week on from a General Election result that few predicted, the People's Action Party (PAP) is buckling down to the business of government, and the opposition is licking its wounds. Insight looks at what lies ahead for both camps.

It may seem business as usual for the PAP government but what might its invigorated mandate - a resounding, unexpected 69.9 per cent share of the vote - mean for policy?

And where to now for the Workers' Party (WP) with a contracted power base, and the rest of the opposition without any power base?

Three areas of focus for the PAP have emerged. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong must first form his Cabinet, a process which is a key part of the party's leadership renewal. Junior ministers will be moved into positions of heavier responsibility and newly elected high-fliers given portfolios - all with an eye to consolidating the core of the fourth-generation leadership.

Now that PM Lee has the strong mandate he asked for to tackle tough issues such as a slowing economy and ageing population, he and his Cabinet will have to make decisions on issues like immigration that will shape Singapore's socio-economic future. In coming up with these policies, the party has promised to listen to alternative voices and consult with the public more widely.

As for the WP, while it retained six seats in Parliament, it has some serious soul-searching to do.

Its drubbing at the ballot box - it retained Aljunied GRC with a lower vote share, lost Punggol East SMC, and failed in its other challenges - threw a spanner in its plans to reinforce and renew the party in Parliament. WP leaders will have to look at how it can strengthen its core of future leaders in other ways.

It will also have to embark on a post-mortem examining why it was snubbed by voters.

As for the seven smaller parties, should they exit the political scene, as some watchers have urged?

If they stand fast, then party leaders will have to seriously think about how to rebrand themselves and offer fresh, relevant platforms in line with what voters want.

All players on the political scene will have to transform with the times - or stand still, and risk being out of touch with the ground.

By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

As the dust settles on its election victory, the top task for the People's Action Party (PAP) is to prepare its next generation of leaders and move them into place.

Leadership renewal was a key thrust of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's messages during the nine-day campaign. Now, all eyes are on who will be named when he announces his new Cabinet in the week ahead.

Mr Lee had urged Singaporeans to vote for him and his team. And they did, with the PAP winning an unexpected 69.9 per cent of the vote share.

With the refreshed mandate, PM Lee must firm up the leadership for the next transition by 2020.

So, who is the fourth-generation leadership likely to comprise?

Political observers expect to see several newbies who featured heavily during the campaign. Indeed, at a lunchtime election rally, PM Lee identified Mr Ng Chee Meng, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Mr Chee Hong Tat and Mr Amrin Amin as potential leaders.

As former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin puts it: "If he named them, it is a sure sign that these new MPs will be given portfolios so as to test them. He must have given much thought to even suggest these names during the elections, especially against a background of a tight campaign."

Institute of Policy Studies' Dr Gillian Koh expects at least half to be named acting ministers, with the rest becoming junior ministers.

This would be in line with the Class of 2011 who form the nucleus of the fourth-generation leadership: Following that election, Mr Heng Swee Keat, at age 50, made it to full minister. Mr Chan Chun Sing was appointed an acting minister, while Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and Mr Lawrence Wong became ministers of state, before moving up to be acting ministers a year later. All four are now full-fledged ministers.

History suggests that speed matters. Those who make it to the highest levels of Singapore's political leadership have some things in common: They are identified very early and given a lot to do.

Out of nearly 40 Cabinet ministers since the 1970s, those who rose to the very pinnacle first became full ministers typically in under three years, the fastest among their cohorts, and were given key roles.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong entered politics in 1976, and was made full minister in 1979. PM Lee entered politics in 1984, was tasked to head an Economic Committee in 1985, and was made full minister in 1987.

Adding to the urgency of renewal is that the next round of leaders must evolve more quickly. PM Lee fought five elections before taking office in 2004, at 52. His successor will not have that benefit. Mr Lee, 63, has said he hoped not to continue as PM beyond the age of 70.

Dr Koh believes his potential successor will become deputy prime minister within this term.


But veteran MP Inderjit Singh, who retired at the latest election, thinks the next generation is already disadvantaged by the shorter run-up.

"It would have been ideal if some of the ministers and potential PM came in during the 2006 elections and spent at least a term as an MP before taking any ministerial position," he tells Insight. "The biggest challenge for all the new ministers and the future leadership is the lack of ground experience as most of the named leaders come from what are considered the 'elites' of society, who had accelerated careers in the civil service or the military."

Among the four names Mr Lee mentioned, only Mr Amrin, a lawyer, bucks the trend. Mr Ng is the highest-ranking military man to enter politics, while Mr Ong and Mr Chee were high-flying civil servants. The challenge is for these potential ministers, especially whoever emerges as likely prime minister, to display "the ability to connect with stakeholders, find the opportunities to stamp their mark and improve areas of public policy", Dr Koh says.

The lack of experience could be tempered by the promotion of second ministers to full-fledged positions in the next reshuffle, points out Mr Zulkifli. With more senior ministers still in Parliament, they can help with the transition, he adds.

Leadership renewal is not just restricted to the highest echelons - it is expected to trickle down to party branches as well. Activists tell Insight that younger branch secretaries and the involvement of those under-35 in newer technologies, like social media campaigning, were integral to the PAP's strong election win.

Still, the main focus is on who will be the next prime minister. Mr Inderjit says: "Now that we don't have Lee Kuan Yew to help the new leader any more, a clear-cut successor is important. But it's also important for the PAP that their choice of successor gets the full support of all the ministers and MPs. And so it is important that he or she stands out very clearly."

By Chong Zi Liang and Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

It is back to the drawing board for a stunned Workers' Party (WP) after an election result that saw it tread water rather than grow into a more powerful opposition presence.

The ballot box drubbing means it will not be able to fight the next election from a position of strength, and also has wider implications for its leadership renewal.

The WP was counting on getting at least a combined five more MPs elected in East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC, and party chairman Sylvia Lim told a campaign rally the WP placed its best up-and-coming candidates in these seats "to reinforce and renew the ranks of our party in Parliament".

With party chief Low Thia Khiang having held his post for 14 years, and Ms Lim having held hers for 12 years, there is a growing urgency for the party to renew its leadership ranks.

Ms Lim told The Straits Times last month there was a feeder group of members to choose from, but the WP had "not fixed our mind on any particular person taking over as yet" for its top posts.

While she and Mr Low can indicate their preferred successors, it is up to party cadres to make the decision at a party conference held every two years to elect its central executive council, she added.

Will the change in the party's fortunes hit Mr Low's popularity within the WP? How will this affect those earmarked as potential leaders? The next party election - due next year - will be one to watch.

Since taking over the reins, Mr Low and Ms Lim have not faced any contest during these party elections. But party sources say the disappointing performance at the Sept 11 polls could spark a challenge.

Already, there are rumblings of discontent among some segments of the party over the leadership's apparent preference for newer faces. This election, the party fielded 16 new faces, most of whom joined the party after its electoral victory in Aljunied GRC in 2011.

A party insider, though, said Mr Low still has an edge over his closest competitors - that is, if any exists. Since becoming party chief in 2001, he has presided over more than a decade of steady progress for the WP and shaped it into Singapore's most credible opposition party today.

Opposition watcher Wong Wee Nam reckons the WP would more likely band together in this "time of crisis". The top two posts aside, the other spots in the party's top decision-making body are typically hotly contested. At the last party conference in July last year, more than 20 vied for the other 12 spots on the central executive council. By all accounts, the WP had been looking to its candidates in East Coast and Fengshan to fill some positions, and eventually key party posts.


Although the WP did not win East Coast and Fengshan constituencies - polling 39.27 per cent of valid votes in the former and 42.48 per cent in the latter - the results were good enough to secure the consolation prize of Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) seats, given to the best-losing candidates.

The seats will go to shipping law firm partner Dennis Tan, who stood in Fengshan, and consultancy firm chief executive Leon Perera, who was nominated by his East Coast teammates. This decision was approved by the party's leadership.

The party is also keen for sociology professor Daniel Goh, who was part of the East Coast slate, to take up the NCMP seat turned down by Punggol East candidate Lee Li Lian, but it is up to Parliament whether to fill the position. Mr Tan has risen quickly through the ranks to a central executive council position since volunteering for the party in 2011. Dr Goh, too, is in the council. The duo, together with Mr Perera, were the key architects of the WP's election manifesto. The fact that they have been picked to fill the NCMP seats is further indication of their party leadership potential.

With only three NCMP seats, leader of the East Coast team Gerald Giam will not be returning to Parliament after serving one term as NCMP. But all signs point to him still being in the running for key party posts. He played a significant role in policy formulation over the years and chaired the presentation of the party manifesto. That he was trusted to front a press conference without either Mr Low or Ms Lim present speaks volumes about his stature in the party.

At his first Meet-the-People session since the elections, Mr Low confirmed the high hopes the party had placed in its East Coast and Fengshan candidates.

"They are the future leadership core of the WP. We very much hoped they could be elected," he said. "Now that they are not elected, the second-best option would be to become NCMPs so more Singaporeans will know them better."

PAP: Be open to more diverse views
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

There's no better time than now for the People's Action Party (PAP) to be more politically inclusive, precisely because of the strong mandate it has been given with its 69.9 per cent vote share in the General Election, say party insiders.

"It is always best to change from a position of strength, which the PAP has now," says retired veteran MP Inderjit Singh, who stepped down from politics before this year's polls.

"Not being inclusive can be disastrous as people have given the PAP a second chance now," he adds, referring to the 2011 polls, when its vote share fell amid unhappiness with its policies and the perception that it was out of touch.

"This (opportunity) should not be wasted because trust is difficult to build but easy to lose."

Some observers had feared that the PAP would take its strong victory as a licence to close ranks. But at its press conference after the results, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it would heed the call for diverse voices to be heard more in Singapore's political system.

So, what would a more inclusive PAP government look like? For one thing, politically minded Singaporeans, civil society activists and even opposition politicians may get more invitations to informal chats with ministers. Defence Minister and PAP organising secretary Ng Eng Hen tells Insight: "We'll call them up for a meal or tea, just to listen to them, talk to them." On his invitation list are Singaporeans he met on the campaign trail who "made a lot of sense", he adds.

Newly elected Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng wants to run monthly town hall sessions where residents in his ward of Nee Soon East can raise any topic they want. "My questions in Parliament will be drafted from these sessions, so the residents, essentially, have a say in Parliament," he says.

The PAP is also likely to go out of its way to collect even more feedback on proposed laws before they are tabled - in place of neat proposals on laws by civil servants, after some feedback sessions, that are passed without a hitch.

This means more public forums and dialogue sessions on specific areas of interest are on the cards. "The debate shouldn't just be confined to Parliament. What's more important is the debate that happens outside Parliament," says Mr Ng, a civil society activist.

He recalls a public forum on animal welfare policies he co-organised in 2011, where the public and activists gave recommendations. Their feedback culminated in stronger legislation against animal cruelty passed last year.

Hong Kah North MP Amy Khor, who chairs government feedback unit Reach, says that different feedback platforms can be used, from conventional dialogues and social media sessions to talking to individuals on the ground. She says: "The opposition is welcome to participate in these conversations, including written contribution of their ideas beyond parliamentary debates. We are open to hearing from everyone, as long as they enrich the discussion and address the issues at hand."

Mr Ng says that while the Government has opened the doors for engagement, it is also up to civil society to be more constructive. "If we insist our point is right and theirs is wrong, that makes any dialogue difficult. But if both sides find some common ground, we can work towards a win-win solution," he says.


Going a step further, Mr Singh suggests that ministers bring uncompleted Bills to Parliament to be debated, and more Bills go to select committees, where proposals can be closely scrutinised and finalised.

Currently, parliamentary debates are largely perfunctory, with MPs reading off prepared scripts and Bills passed into law right after the debate, mostly unchanged.

There is a provision for Bills to be sent to select committees - made up of MPs who can solicit public feedback, call witnesses, hold hearings and suggest changes - after their second reading. But the last time it happened was in 2004.

Of his proposal, Mr Singh says that such a policymaking process may take a little longer, but it is necessary for good-quality policies.

"We have a situation where the key decisions are made by just a handful of people who may not consult widely, and the outcome may not be good," he says, citing the Population White Paper in 2013. The paper detailed plans the Government was making to prepare for a population parameter of 6.9 million but this sparked an uproar among citizens about the lack of consultation.

Another way to institutionalise the practice of listening to more voices is to expand government parliamentary committees, which only PAP MPs are members of. Mr Singh suggests making non-PAP MPs and more Singaporeans part of these committees. As the ruling party encounters more diverse voices, it should keep an open mind, say insiders. "More PAP MPs must be able to challenge policies and ministers must be willing to accept these challenges," says Mr Singh.

Opposition: Soul-searching for smaller parties
By Walter Sim, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

Much soul-searching is in order for the seven non-Workers' Party (WP) opposition parties that contested GE2015, all of which will have zero representation in the 13th Parliament.

However, political analysts say the parties' collective future is not necessarily bleak - if they manage to carve out their own niche, and cast aside wounded egos for a more united opposition front.

Still, of these seven parties, political observers see most of them disappearing unless they manage to groom a stream of charismatic new leaders and go beyond being just mere vanity projects for their incumbent leaders.

As political observer Derek da Cunha bluntly notes: "One can only hope that some personalities from the minor opposition parties can put aside their ego and vanity and announce that they will disband and exit the political scene."

Associate Professor Hussin Mutalib of the National University of Singapore says: "Small, fringe parties without either brand names or high-profile charismatic leaders cannot survive, let alone succeed in Singapore, given the Republic's political climate and small size."

After all, five of these seven parties were founded, or are being run, by leaders who had once belonged to another opposition party.

Prof Hussin foresees only "two or three" opposition parties remaining relevant going forward, including the WP and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), which have built up for themselves a brand identity.

SDP chief Chee Soon Juan appears to be aware of this in his remarks last week, when he mooted the possibility of both parties "working closer together to present a more coordinated opposition strategy and message at the next GE".

But Prof Hussin foresees this being difficult, saying it will hinge on three factors: Dr Chee accepting a lesser leadership role or public profile; their ideologies being tweaked to accommodate a joint manifesto that "they both can agree with"; and the SDP to continue recruiting candidates of the calibre of medical professor Paul Tambyah.

Elsewhere, renewal is crucial for parties like the Singapore People's Party (SPP) and Reform Party (RP) which, beyond their founders, have little political identity.

Central to the SPP has been Mr Chiam See Tong, who was MP for Potong Pasir for 27 years until 2011, while the RP is being touted as late opposition figure "J.B. Jeyaretnam's party".

For the record, the scorecard for GE2015 is: SDP (31.23 per cent of votes in contested seats); Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA, 27.11 per cent); SPP (27.08 per cent); National Solidarity Party (NSP, 25.27 per cent); People's Power Party (PPP, 23.09 per cent); Singaporeans First (SingFirst, 21.49 per cent); and RP (20.60 per cent).

The seven parties' vote share in their contested seats amounted to between 20.6 per cent and 31.23 per cent - considerably lower than the 30.06 to 41.42 per cent range of the five opposition parties, excluding the WP, in GE2011.

Opposition leaders were visibly shell-shocked by the pummelling, saying there was a seeming disconnect between reality and the signals they got from the electorate.


But what they had perhaps ignored was that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) had been recalibrating its policies towards the left, which had helped to quell anger.

Yet the increasingly crowded field of small opposition parties largely had similar manifestos and campaigned on the same issues.

These included population and retirement, while trumpeting that they will act as "checks and balances" - something Prof Hussin describes as an "overly touted slogan".

He tells Insight that the opposition must "now be seen to offer slightly new and fresh ideological and political platforms that are equally as relevant and feasible as those propounded by the PAP government, while also being more humane and caring to the populace".

Former Nominated MP Eugene Tan concurs, saying: "Voters have shown they have very little tolerance for opposition parties that are unable to justify their place in the political landscape."

He adds: "Many of these parties are content just getting the 20 per cent-30 per cent protest vote when they need to go beyond getting the anti-PAP vote, to getting votes that are affirmatively for them, their manifesto and their beliefs."

Indeed, to Prof Hussin, what the recent election showed was that with more opposition parties comes a greater propensity for a lack of collaboration. This, in turn, dilutes the strength of the ideological challenge they need to distinguish themselves from the PAP.

Despite the challenges ahead, he says the future for the opposition is not necessarily a daunting one.

After all, there remains a public desire for credible opposition voices, and a sense that some effective opposition is needed for better policies, he notes.

Need to navigate a slowing economy
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

It has tackled the tough issues of foreigner inflows, rising house prices, and healthcare and ageing concerns. But now, a new issue rears its head for the People's Action Party (PAP) government in its new term - a slowing economy.

Since GE2011, the Government has beefed up areas that had prompted complaints - providing support for groups ranging from the elderly to the "sandwiched" generation, and making adjustments to longstanding institutions such as the Central Provident Fund.

But not long after the posters and bunting have been taken down after PAP's victory, new figures emerged about the economy which pose the toughest, and most immediate, challenge.

Official data out last Thursday showed that Singapore's exports fell sharply last month on weak demand from China and Europe, raising the odds of a technical recession in the third quarter. A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. With local employment slowing, observers say the Government could relook curbs on hiring foreigners to ease some of the pain for certain industries, and find ways to better match Singaporeans to jobs that fully utilise their skills.

"Some SMEs are really suffering as they have jobs Singaporeans normally would not be keen on taking up," says UOB economist Francis Tan. "This even leads to them closing shop as they cannot cope."

He hopes to see a loosening of restrictions on foreign workers for industries most strapped by the manpower crunch, such as the food and beverage industry. The curbs were imposed amid concerns that citizens were having jobs taken away from them.

But now, local employment has dipped in the first six months of this year, while labour productivity fell in the manufacturing, construction and service sectors.

And the number of young Singaporeans entering the workforce is shrinking with every cohort - testament to the ageing population.

UniSIM College economist Walter Theseira notes: "The Government will continue to maintain its policy of population growth. I do not think we will see an opening of the floodgates, but it may pick up pace a bit from the last few years."

But while the labour challenge in the lower-skilled sectors is the lack of manpower, the challenge those in higher-skilled sectors face is of skill mismatch, he said. So a key focus should be on improving the fit between workers and jobs so they are not underemployed, rather than importing workers to the extent Singapore was accustomed to.

Experts say the foundation of measures to boost Singapore's prospects in a tepid global economy has been laid, but needs to be fine-tuned and ramped up.

UOB's Mr Tan points to the SkillsFuture initiative, which will help workers upgrade skills at any stage of their careers. Schemes to fund innovation to raise productivity are available, but could be improved.

A silver lining lies ahead too - the Asean Economic Community will come about at the year-end, providing a massive common market for member states such as Singapore.


While social spending could take a backseat to measures to stimulate the economy, the leftward shift that has characterised policies in recent years is expected to continue.

Experts say concerns about healthcare, housing and transport have largely been eased by measures in the Government's previous term, though the effects of some will be felt only years later.

Homes are now more affordable, and MPs note complaints about housing have gone down at Meet-the-People sessions. While the bed crunch in hospitals made news in recent years, there are now new hospitals ready or on the way.

Commuters may fume over train breakdowns, but the Government has been working to improve bus and rail connections. By 2030, the rail network will double.

One new transport initiative may loom: a satellite-based, no-gantry electronic road pricing system, charging based on the distance travelled on congested roads. Motorists have complained this will make journeys more expensive.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told PAP MPs last week: "A good mandate gives us precious political capital, which we must make good use of, wisely. Inevitably, from time to time, the Government will have to take hard decisions."

Dr Tan says this mandate will empower the Government to take bold steps in its new term. But Dr Norshahril Saat, a fellow at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, says it might place pressure on the PAP to be especially mindful of how the public might view tough measures.

"Any unpopular policy introduced by the PAP will be linked to its strong mandate in 2015. Singaporeans will say, 'We voted you in!'," he says. "Imagine, for instance, a GST hike. Singaporeans would think that this resulted from having (next to) no opposition in Parliament."

Sample counts prove reliable
By Walter Sim, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

Within three hours after polls closed on Sept 11, Singaporeans had a fairly reliable indicator of how votes went, thanks to sample counts released for the first time by the Elections Department (ELD).

These correctly indicated all the eventual winners, even in the close contest of Aljunied GRC, where there was a recount. The difference from the actual count was below two percentage points for all but one of the 29 constituencies.

Expect such counts to be the norm in future elections.

Mathematics aside, their success is clear from how many voters remarked online that they could have gone to bed without waiting up for the official tallies.

National University of Singapore economist Davin Chor, who has studied voting patterns in other countries, tells Insight: "The broad agreement between the sample counts and the eventual official results was reassuring that the methodology works."

Associate Professor Chor adds: "For future elections, the public will surely look to these sample counts as a reliable estimate of the likely outcome."

The results also achieved the ELD's goal of helping to prevent unnecessary speculation and reliance on unofficial sources of information while counting is under way.

Sample count results - drawn from 100 votes at each of the 832 polling stations, and weighted to account for the difference in the total number of votes cast at each - were released from about 9.40pm, with the last set coming in at 11.15pm. The first actual count result came in at around 11.30pm, and the last after 3am.

Sample count results were given in percentages, rounded off to the nearest whole number.

The GRC with the largest variance was Jurong, where the PAP's final vote share was 79.3 per cent, against the sample count's 78 per cent. Only in MacPherson SMC was the sample count result off by over 2 percentage points - at 2.58 percentage points. It showed PAP's Tin Pei Ling getting 63 per cent of the votes, but she actually got 65.58 per cent. Still, this was well within the stipulated margin of error of four percentage points.

As for why the sample counts seemed more on the mark for GRCs, Dr Walter Theseira of UniSIM College says this could be due to the larger sample volume taken in a GRC - where there are more polling stations - than in an SMC.

"The effect of tripling or quadrupling the sample volume is much greater, in terms of increasing the statistical accuracy of the sample count than any loss in accuracy from the increase in population size," he says.

Hopes for GE2020
PAP and opposition can learn from GE2015 to create a politically more mature environment
By Chua Mui Hoong, Opinion Editor, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

ONE week after the momentous result of the 2015 General Election, I have just two wishes for the future political direction of our country.

For the People's Action Party (PAP), I hope the resounding win gives it confidence to go beyond policy shifts, to substantive political change.

For the opposition, I hope the result makes opposition politicians wake up from their slumber to realise that voters now want more from opposition candidates than a reasonable CV, good speaking skills and a friendly social media presence.

First, my hopes of the PAP.

Its strong mandate on Sept 11 should deepen its resolve to move towards more friendly social policies. As many people have remarked, its shift to the left fiscally, in the form of large subsidies in healthcare, eldercare, childcare and the Pioneer Generation Package, have clearly won over many voters.

At the same time, many have voiced their concern, online and in private, about whether the PAP will go back to its rather top-down, authoritarian approach to people management.

PAP leaders have taken pains to call on all its candidates to be humble in victory, and several, like Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who helmed the Our Singapore Conversation series of dialogues, have pledged to consult often, and widely, on policies.

But as an image that went viral last week shows, there is a latent fear of the PAP going back to its bad old ways. It shows a couple of men in a slave galley ship, shackled at the feet, pulling away. One of them tells the other, who is presumably complaining: "Oh shuddup! You voted for it!" To which the complainant whines: "But he said that it's a cruise ship!"

Have voters given their vote to a captain who promised a cruise ship experience, but will use its passengers and crew as galley slaves? The answer to that is, of course, no.

The strong mandate should instead be an opportunity for the PAP to seize the moral and political imperative, to institute reforms to the political process.

This view was voiced by many, including a foreign observer, University of Chicago professor Dan Slater. He remarked in an article on the East Asia Forum: "These latest election results might well lead the PAP to conclude that its combination of open-handed spending and strong-armed social control remains an invincible one.

"But its popularity comes from how much it does for Singapore's people, not from how much it intimidates them.

"If the PAP is a 'philanthropic ogre', as poet Octavio Paz once dubbed Mexico's ruling party, why not just preserve the philanthropy and ditch the ogre routine?"

Prof Slater hoped this will be the PAP's "last authoritarian election" and urged the party to introduce reforms to tilt the playing field to be more even.

I agree with the thrust of these calls. Having secured its strongest mandate in over a decade, at a time when many expected it to suffer further setbacks at the polls, the PAP can use this opportunity to strengthen trust with citizens, by fixing what many critics view as a flawed, even biased, political process.

To be sure, Singapore's elections are clean, hardly influenced by money politics. In this election,

PM Lee and his team fought a studiously fair and clean campaign, in that there was little of the blatant gerrymandering or character assassination of yore. But the way the election is structured gives rise to charges of bias: the PM decides on the timing, electoral boundary changes are done behind closed doors by a small group of civil servants who report to the PM, who is the head of the PAP.

Over the decades, Singapore has learnt to entrust decisions on public transport fares, universal health insurance and screening of controversial films, to citizen-led panels consisting of responsible, respected individuals.

It is time to set up such a panel of non-partisan, respected citizens to oversee the conduct of elections.

An independent commission can decide on timing of elections, oversee constituency boundary changes, and adjudicate on abuse claims.

As many people have noted, the nationwide swing back to the PAP suggests that the party need not have made those boundary changes anyway, and would still have won handsomely.

A party that keeps in step with voters, and is confident of its appeal, does not need to rely on any advantages to beat its competitors.

Unlike with the pioneer generation, the PAP does not enjoy as strong a bond with today's voters. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows trust in government here falling from 82, to 75 and 70 per cent from 2013, 2014 and then 2015. That level of trust in government is high by global standards, but the figures show a downward trend.

Fixing the political system to remove bias can help raise trust in government and faith in the democratic process.

As for the opposition, my hope is that it learns the lessons from GE2015 as well as the PAP has learnt the lessons from GE2011.

The opposition has to contend with a swing of 9.8 percentage points against it. The Workers' Party (WP) fared best, with a vote share in the wards it contested falling 6.8 points to 39.8 per cent.

Some opposition leaders and supporters have responded to the vote swing with a mix of anger and denial. One opposition leader petulantly likened Singapore to North Korea and China, saying Singaporeans got the government they deserved. (And he presumably got the vote he deserved - 20 per cent).

Even WP leaders were in denial about the town council issue, saying they did not think this swayed voters, or the swing against them would have been higher.

The argument can go the other way: Without performance issues on town council management, the opposition should have done much better, riding on a crest of rising support.

Many opposition supporters took to social media to vent their frustration. Some thought new citizens were to "blame" for the vote swing; many others insulted voters by saying they were cowed or had sold their souls for material benefits (in fact, there were no material inducements to vote PAP this time, unlike in some past elections).

Those feelings are part of the grieving process. But anger, denial and depression all must evolve to acceptance, before opposition parties and supporters can regroup to take a hard look at themselves.

Then they would know what they have to do. The smaller parties have to get their act together, go beyond personality-driven leadership and try to work together.

For the WP, the way to win voters is not by being brazen about its byzantine town council finances, but by being more upfront about its mistakes and correcting them.

To grow to its next phase, the WP also has to become as serious in its policy proposals, as it is about its political posturing. I hope new Non-Constituency MPs Dennis Tan and Leon Perera, who made good rally speeches, will lift the quality of WP's engagement with the PAP in Parliament.

If the opposition can raise its game, and the PAP can introduce changes to the rules to make the election landscape a fairer one, Singapore will have a politically more mature environment in GE2020.

Having secured its strongest mandate in over a decade, at a time when many expected it to suffer further setbacks at the polls, the PAP can use this opportunity to strengthen trust with citizens, by fixing what many critics view as a flawed, even biased, political process.

What caused the GE vote swing?
By Han Fook Kwang, Editor-at-large, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

Of all the many explanations for the vote swing towards the People's Action Party (PAP) in the General Election, one stands out for what it says about the electorate.

This is that voters, fearing the ruling party might be booted out of office, turned out in numbers to prevent the unthinkable from happening.

The fear of a freak election result almost created another freak to wipe out the opposition.

In the event, the nationwide 9.8 percentage point swing almost caused the Workers' Party's prize catch at Aljunied to fall, and it barely held on.

But was there really any danger of the PAP not being able to form the government?

Could voters have been spooked by the aggressive nature of the opposition's campaign?

Or how the bookie odds which were widely circulated predicted large wins for the WP?

But a non-PAP government was highly unlikely since the WP contested only 28 seats and, even if it won all of them - which was not likely in the first place - the PAP would still have a comfortable majority. The other opposition parties, save for the Singapore Democratic Party, were not given much of a chance, and the results validated this assessment.

How could voters have behaved so irrationally to actually believe the PAP would fall?

There has to be another explanation.

Here is one: There was another fear, not as frightening as the first, but where the danger was clearer.

This is the possibility of the PAP losing seats and votes, not enough to fall as a government, but enough to weaken it and cause Singapore the country to suffer the consequences.

Unlike the first fear, this does not require voters to make such a great leap of the imagination.

But at which point - how many seats did voters fear the PAP might lose - to get them to hit the panic button? Seven? Ten? Twenty?

This is an interesting question because it helps answer one of the big unknowns as Singapore transits into a new normal.

What is the political balance that voters desire between the PAP and the opposition that best serves their interest?

Before this GE, there was only GE2011 to go by, one dot in the electoral trajectory, which is not enough to answer the question.

Now there are two points, still insufficient but better than nothing and there is at least a line to connect the two dots.

The still-fuzzy picture that is emerging: Even one more GRC falling to the opposition seems - going by the result of this GE - to be one step too far for the majority of voters, at this point in the transition.

This seems an extraordinarily conservative mindset even in a Singapore that has seen only one-party rule.

One explanation is that it is not just a numbers game.

There is a psychological dimension that has to do with how any balance affects confidence in Singapore and the ability of the PAP to act if weakened.

Indeed, during the campaign, its leaders hammered away at this point, about how dangerous it was for the country to have a party unable to govern effectively - like removing the secret ingredient to its success.

You might dismiss all this as election rhetoric but because of Singapore's exceptional performance the last 50 years, many voters could have been persuaded, especially after the SG50 celebrations.

In fact, this message about how a dominant party is critical for the country is at the core of the PAP narrative.

From it everything else revolves.

Pitted against it: The WP's story about the importance of checks and balances to make for better governance and stability.

Taking the results of GE2011 and GE2015 together - the two dots on the curve - you could say the score is now one each for these two opposing points of view.

Four years ago, the WP's version was in the ascendant.

Now, it is the PAP's.

But the two narratives remain the same, and the battle for hearts and minds continues.

Voters are far from deciding conclusively how far they want to go with one or the other, and subsequent elections will see them adjusting their preferences depending on the experience in the intervening years. This has ramifications for both sides.

For the PAP, it is a golden opportunity to clinch the argument made during the campaign that the opposition is not necessary to make it work for the people's interest.

It has the next five years to drive home this point.

This means not just solving policy problems but changing the perception that it is an elitist government with leaders out of touch with the lives of ordinary Singaporeans.

Given its strong mandate, it should have greater confidence to rise to the challenge, and leave the opposition even less room to manoeuvre.

For the opposition, and in particular the WP, it might be forced to adopt a more conservative approach when contesting the next election.

Given how sensitive voters are to radical change, the WP might have to consider targeting fewer, say just two more, GRCs.

This is not about curtailing its ambition but about understanding the electorate's conservative nature and making the best of it.

When voters want baby steps, contesting 28 seats and declaring it was aiming for 20 is moving too far ahead of the curve.

But while it should be understated in its electoral designs, its MPs will have to be more proactive to live up to their promise of adding to the diversity of views here and making the government accountable. The WP needs a well-thought-out strategy to walk this political tightrope.

For voters, Singapore's new electoral trajectory is only just taking shape.

But they now have a richer experience from which to decide which turn they want it to take.

Look out for more twists in this evolving story.

<<An Affection Re-kindled – A Personal Reflection>>It was the little things that gave it away. The curt responses,...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Sunday, September 20, 2015

What Mattered This GE
Opposition must dig deep and renew, like PAP did after 2011
Electorate winnable at this stage in S'pore's political development
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 20 Sep 2015

For some reason, we seem to be able to surprise ourselves in every general election.

It's mostly a result of the legal structure here: Publishing polling results is illegal during the campaign period, and yet voting is compulsory, which gives the silent majority a decisive, largely unknown, power.

This means that in the 10 days leading up to the vote, the chattering political classes - among which I count myself - are effectively in an echo chamber which both over-stimulates and under-informs.

But Singapore is also a very young democracy, and this is only the 12th general election in its history. The Sept 11 vote was only the first time in our entire existence as an independent country that every parliamentary seat was contested, a phenomenon known elsewhere as an actual election.

In a sense, we are always in uncharted territory, feeling our way into political maturity. While every major experience in this awakening can take on the heady quality of irreversible, watershed transformation, they are usually anything but.

This was the accurate conclusion that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) wisely took away from GE2011, when things were not going its way and Cassandras everywhere were prophesying an unstoppable tide of anti-PAP sentiment.

The ruling party instead held fast to the belief that the electorate was still largely winnable and proceeded to dig deep and pull off a stunning turnaround in policies and public perception.

It was duly rewarded at the ballot box on Sept 11, scoring a nationwide vote share of 69.9 per cent, its best performance in over a decade.

This is the kind of steadfast soul-searching and renewal that the opposition - and liberal-leaning Singaporeans who want to see greater openness and pluralism - must now engage in if it wants to remain relevant.

Concluding that it's futile to champion greater political contestation in Singapore or condemning Singaporeans for having Stockholm Syndrome with the PAP is an overly dramatic and defeatist reaction.

There is no inevitable tide in either direction at this stage of Singapore's political development, just an electorate with little patience for empty rhetoric.

In this GE, it was the PAP which had the better politicians, the better campaign and the better fortune, just like in the last GE, it was the Workers' Party (WP) which enjoyed a lucky confluence of factors.

Despite the magnitude of the national swing towards the PAP, the fact is that the makeup of Parliament remains unchanged from after GE2011. The one seat the WP lost was gained in the 2013 Punggol East by-election, and would have remained the party's through the Non-Constituency MP system had defeated candidate Lee Li Lian chosen to take it up.

After the dust settles and the new Parliament opens, GE2015 will be remembered as a status quo election. What it changed was our assumption that anything about Singapore politics right now can be assumed.

In the lead-up to the polls, I looked at five factors that would matter this GE.

Revisiting them now in the light of polling results suggests useful conclusions about what matters to this electorate, and how politicians positioning themselves for the next GE should react.

Of the five, the Lee Kuan Yew dividend, which I believed would pay off magnificently for the PAP, had the most straightforward effect on the polls. The ruling party's campaign returned again and again to the topic of exceptional leadership - and its centrality in Singapore's success.

From Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's invoking of Mr Lee's most famous words at a Raffles Place lunchtime rally, to the call for voters to bring into government new members of the fourth-generation leadership so that they can be groomed to take over, this topic had particular poignance and power in the wake of Mr Lee's death. In this way, the LKY dividend powered a large portion of that 9.8 percentage point swing towards the PAP, both directly and indirectly.

I can't help but think of Mr Lee's famous statement that if he ever saw Singapore going the wrong way, he would get up, "even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave".

But the LKY dividend is also the most ephemeral of the factors I identified, and requires no further parsing.

If the WP reveals itself to be a worthwhile opposition which can knuckle down and rectify its mistakes, as I hope it does, then the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) saga should also be an ephemeral factor with little bearing on the next GE.

AHPETC's troubles were not enough for the PAP to win back Aljunied GRC, but they were enough to drive down the WP's winning margin to below 2 percentage points, and enough for voters in Punggol East to switch allegiances.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim said she did not think that AHPETC played a part in swaying voters, for the swing against the WP's vote share was less than the swing against other opposition parties.

If voters were concerned about the management of the town council, then the swing against the WP would have been larger than that against others, she said.

This is a puzzlingly self-serving interpretation of events. Over the past four years, the WP has had the largest opposition contingent in Parliament in Singapore history, and its rebuttals and proposals have received major national attention. Its politicians are as recognisable as some in the Cabinet.

That this massive advantage over other opposition parties was reduced to a marginal hedge against a national swing should be a disappointment to the party and its supporters - not a source of comfort.

The WP's razor-thin retention of Aljunied GRC is due more to the recognition among Aljunied voters that they bear a national responsibility to provide opposition in Parliament, than to any flippancy about AHPETC's governance.

Aljunied voters should be repaid for their steadfastness with a serious effort from the party to set its town council on the right track.

As the comprehensive rejection of the "vote opposition so the PAP works harder" argument this GE illustrates, the Singapore electorate does not play games with its politicians.

If the WP wants votes, it's up to its own hard work - not the PAP's.

What the opposition party's lacklustre performance this GE speaks to is an unease on the part of fair-minded voters that the WP has given them little to vote for in the past four years, despite its expanded presence and mandate.

This in contrast to the PAP, which has given voters little to vote against. In areas like population management, the Government not only moved quickly in the direction that most Singaporeans wanted, but it also did so in a consultative, communicative and humble way, asking Singaporeans to trust that political leaders are doing their best for the nation.

As the results of this GE show, the electorate by and large still maintains a healthy relationship with the PAP leadership, one that acknowledges the ruling party's honourable intentions and best efforts.

The people have no intention of being "mean parents" - an analogy used by PAP MP Denise Phua on the hustings - who scold a child for a report card that's very good, even if the score is not 100 per cent.

In #GE2015, 47,315 votes were spoilt. Why do people spoil their votes despite an increase in political awareness? Read...
Posted by IPS Commons on Thursday, October 1, 2015

In light of the 9.8% vote swing towards the incumbent PAP government, several liberal commentators have lamented that...
Posted by IPS Commons on Sunday, October 4, 2015

Business as usual for Singapore after GE 2015?
By Tan Khee Giap and Ron Sim, Published The Straits Times, 3 Oct 2015

As the fervour of the General Election subsides and noises of post-mortem analyses settle, can we expect business as usual for the newly elected Government? With such a strong mandate given to the ruling party, should we expect or can Singapore afford to be business as usual? During the GE, there was some common ground between the People's Action Party (PAP) and opposition parties, but stark differences in terms of how to deal with them.


First both the PAP and the opposition want Singapore to be less dependent on cheap and abundant supply of blue collar foreign workers and to ensure that the indigenous workforce continues to enjoy decent pay and good wage growth so as to cope well with the rising cost of living.

Some opposition parties, such as the Workers' Party (WP) and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), are in favour of a legislated minimum wage policy, and swifter and significant reduction in the number of foreign workers even if it means lower economic growth.

In contrast, the PAP prefers to achieve decent pay and good wage growth through painstaking effort to push for productivity gains and through its progressive wage model policy, which sets minimum salary scales for workers in some sectors like cleaning, with pay increases to be enjoyed as productivity and skills go up. The PAP also believes in seizing good economic growth during favourable external environments, arguing that this is the best way to cope with the rising cost of living.


Second, both the PAP and the opposition want to see a higher ratio of workers who are indigenous professionals, executive, managers and technicians (PMETs), and to see them have higher pay.

While some opposition parties like the Singaporeans First party suggested that jobs be reserved for Singaporeans and that foreign PMET numbers be reduced, the PAP argued for a hybrid PMET policy, with plans under SkillsFuture to ensure a Singaporean-core work team, augmented with foreign PMETs from diverse countries of origin within a company and industry.

A Fair Consideration Framework and a national jobs bank have also been in place to ensure employers give opportunities to local wokers.


Third, both the PAP and the opposition want to ensure that Singaporeans have sufficient means for coping with retirement and old age, especially lower-income workers.

Some opposition parties like the WP wanted to lower the payout age for Central Provident Fund (CPF) money from 65 to 60 years. Others objected to tampering with or raising the old minimum sum.

The PAP argued for partial withdrawal at the age of 55, and a gradual rise in the minimum sum that people need to set for their old age. The PAP also introduced CPF Life, an annuity that pools CPF members' funds to give them a payout for life from age 65.


Finally, both the PAP and the opposition want to see significant improvement in social safety net for the majority of Singaporeans.

Opposition parties like the SDP strongly urged the setting up of a Western model of a welfare state with unemployment benefits and significant subsidy for basic public services, including healthcare, housing and education.

The PAP is resisting such a welfare state. It prefers to keep basic public services affordable, not free, and objects to unemployment insurance benefits, preferring instead the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) to supplement low wages, as it believes the best way to mitigate income disparity is to get workers to stay in employment, not help them when they are unemployed.

The PAP's arguments on these thorny issues must have gained traction for it to have secured nearly 70 per cent of the vote in the elections. At the same time however, there are some areas of economic policies which merit serious rethinking.

Forward-planning Singapore is used to futuristic scenario planning exercises to guide the Government and people to think through long-term challenges. But it is less equipped when it comes to quantitative assessments of policy options. In this respect, we would like to suggest a review of existing policies using quantitative research methods.

Many policies relevant in the past continue to be relevant today, and may stand Singapore in good stead in the future. A good example might be the policy of growing an external wing to the economy, mooted by Mr Lee Kuan Yew in the early 1990s, which has led to the expansion of Singapore's external economy.

What has been the benefits of such a policy? Such global-driven growth for Singapore can be quantified and can continue to be a key engine of growth for Singapore's future.

Singapore also needs to fine-tune some policies in the post-Lee Kuan Yew era, in response to changes in conditions. One that comes to mind is the WIS. Such policies, once introduced, are politically difficult to withdraw.

Therefore we ought to quantify how much it will cost future governments and whether we can design incentives for an exit mechanism for those who are benefiting from it.

At the same time, the country must also be bold to formulate new growth strategies, extrapolating from new emerging trends, and with a mindset of being quick to seize opportunities.

For example, there is much talk about the 100km-long canal over the Isthmus of Kra. This was brought up again this year, with an estimate that it would cost at least US$20 billion (S$28 billion) to build and 10 years to complete. If this proposed project is realised, how would the top and bottom lines of PSA and Changi Airport be affected?

One thing is for sure: SG50 has come and will be gone, but the endeavour to keep Singapore relevant and competitive has to continue.

Dr Tan Khee Giap is Co-Director, Asia Competitiveness Institute, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore .

Mr Ron Sim is executive chairman of Osim, a lifestyle products company known for its massage chairs.

GE2015 through Hong Kong eyes
By Li Xueying, Hong Kong Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 Oct 2015

Standing among a crowd of supporters in white at a People's Action Party (PAP) election rally in Tampines last month was an overseas visitor.

Mr Raymond Chan, a pro-democracy legislator from Hong Kong, listened intently as Tampines GRC candidate Baey Yam Keng spoke of how he would continue to push the Singapore Government towards freer use of dialects.

"He was advocating on the people's behalf and sounded like he was from the opposition instead of from the ruling party," recounts Mr Chan, who wore a yellow sleeveless T-shirt, the colour adopted by Hong Kong's Occupy activists last year. That, he argues, is something that Hong Kong's pro-establishment politicians should learn from - and "not just obey" directives from the top.

Mr Chan was in Singapore to observe its 17th General Election. He also attended rallies by the Workers' Party and Singapore Democratic Party and spoke to Hong Kongers living in Singapore.

He was not the only Hong Konger to make the trip. Others included Dr Simon Shen, a prominent international relations academic and commentator from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Dr Hui Ching, from the university's Institute of Future Cities. All were in town for their first taste of Singapore's hustings.

“I felt puzzled. We Hong Kongers feel Singapore is not democratic and the PAP is like a nanny. Why do my friends support...
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, October 9, 2015

Hong Kong's media covered the election extensively, with dailies such as tabloid Apple Daily sending reporters to Singapore.

The new Cabinet announced two weeks ago was also widely reported, with particular focus on the PAP's succession planning.

The keen interest in Singapore's political landscape comes at a time when Hong Kong is undergoing heightened angst over its own political destiny and governance challenges. Two Mondays ago, it marked the first anniversary of the start of the controversial Occupy movement which sought - but failed - to secure greater freedoms to elect the city's leader.

Hong Kong's commentariat has long taken an interest in Taiwan's election, with its freewheeling brand of democracy. Now, with many Hong Kongers fatigued by endless rounds of political wrangling and Beijing looking unwilling to budge, the so-called Singapore model is beginning to look like a more feasible compromise to some.

Says Dr Shen: "To many observers, the model of Singapore might suit Hong Kong better than the Taiwan one. In Singapore, both stability and democracy exist."

However, a crucial difference between the two former British colonies - namely, that Singapore is a sovereign nation while Hong Kong is not - limits the extent to which the Singapore system can be applied to Hong Kong. That said, those who visited Singapore say there are some specific takeaways from last month's GE, which saw the PAP win 69.86 per cent of the valid votes cast.

One particular lesson for Hong Kong's pan-democrat camp is that vocal netizens and huge turnouts at street assemblies do not necessarily translate into electoral support, says Mr Chan, a member of the radical People Power party which organises protests and uses filibustering as a tactic to block government policies. "The power of the silent majority - this is something we need to take note of."

In a commentary, Dr Shen identifies salient points from Singapore's opposition politics which could apply to Hong Kong's as well: the need to cultivate a level of grassroots organisation to provide daily services to residents rather than "just shouting empty slogans"; and the care not to alienate the mainstream.

Another lesson is for Hong Kong's governing class to clearly demonstrate its commitment to the people, says Dr Hui.

For Mr Chan, there is a salutary personal lesson.

Among his Hong Kong friends in Singapore are those who support the Occupy movement. Yet, they told him, they would vote for the PAP if they are Singaporeans.

"I felt puzzled. We Hong Kongers feel Singapore is not democratic and the PAP is like a nanny. Why do my friends support it?

"After talking to many people, I understood a government's legitimacy can be from different sources. It can be derived from free and fair elections. Another is performance legitimacy - even if you took power in an unequal playing field such as with gerrymandering but you perform well in that position, the citizens will support you."

For Singaporeans, whatever comments Hong Kong's players make about the Republic will have to be understood in the context of their respective agendas.

In recent years, both ends of Hong Kong's political spectrum have found much about Singapore's system to praise. The city's establishment and pro-Beijing bloc do so, often to underscore the point that Hong Kong is lagging Singapore in terms of economic development and competitiveness. This, they blame on political gridlock engendered by the pan-democrats.

The democrats, meanwhile, counter that the ruling class in Hong Kong is just not up to the mark, compared to Singapore's.

Mr Chan, for one, laments that Hong Kong lacks an "independent leader who will work on behalf of the people, instead of on behalf of Beijing".

Whether such remarks are fair or otherwise, one thing is for sure: For as long as the political disquiet in Hong Kong continues, its politicians and people will continue to seek references from afar, including from Singapore.

Recap all the drama, sights and sounds from this year's General Election with The Straits Times' new e-book, Singapore's...
Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, September 12, 2015

#GE2015 Relive the fever of the hustings through these photos and videos - including never-seen-before footage - curated by The Straits Times photo desk and multimedia team., check out our new e-book, Singapore's Jubilee Election, for all the drama, sights and sounds that you might have missed.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ex-MP Inderjit Singh, social media activist Alex Au, seasoned journalist Margaret Thomas and economist Walter Theseira...
Posted by Inconvenient Questions on Thursday, October 1, 2015

MOS Sam Tan’s forum letterEarlier today, 联合早报 (Lianhe Zaobao) published a forum letter from Minister of State Sam Tan....
Posted by People's Action Party on Thursday, October 15, 2015

GE2015: PAP wins big with 69.9% of vote
PAP’s post-election press conference
PAP wins in 15 of 16 GRCs; Workers' Party hangs on to Aljunied GRC
SMC results; PAP's Punggol East win opens door to AHPETC accounts
GE2015: Election Reaction
GE2015 and Social Media
GE2015 results show opposition tide can be 'rolled back': Shanmugam
PAP team in Aljunied won ground through policies, outreach and WP missteps
PAP's Aljunied team did a very good job: George Yeo
Town Council issue a top priority: Punggol East MP Charles Chong
PM Lee Hsien Loong to start forming new Cabinet over next two weeks
Close ranks and unite after 2015 General Election: Ministers
GE outcome 'boosted confidence in Singapore': PM Lee
Tommy Koh: Ten reflections on GE2015
The strategic voter in the 'new normal'
In PAP’s fight for votes, a formidable weapon - Boots on the ground
PM Lee Hsien Loong names Cabinet aimed at leadership succession
PM Lee sends letter to PAP MPs on rules of prudence and proper conduct
PM Lee and Singapore's new Cabinet sworn in
Singapore's Coordinating Ministers: What their role entails
Shaping Singapore's 4th-gen leadership
What 18-year-olds tell us about Singapore's future
One month after GE2015
Sam Tan joins debate over Workers' Party record, performance
Trust 'the key factor' in PAP's Sept polls win: ESM Goh
GE2015 campaign cost: $7.1m

No comments:

Post a Comment