Sunday 13 September 2015

GE2015: PAP wins in 15 of 16 GRCs; Workers' Party hangs on to Aljunied GRC

By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) has won all but one of the 16 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) this election.

The ruling party improved on its result in all constituencies, with its closest win in East Coast GRC still a comfortable 60.7 per cent.

All in, PAP MPs will fill 83 of the 89 seats in the next Parliament.

The Workers' Party (WP) retained Aljunied GRC, but with a far slimmer vote margin than in 2011. The WP retains six seats in Parliament - five in Aljunied GRC and one in Hougang SMC.

In Aljunied GRC, the WP team of party chief Low Thia Khiang, chairman Sylvia Lim, Mr Chen Show Mao, Mr Pritam Singh and Mr Faisal Abdul Manap won with just 50.95 per cent of the vote against a PAP team comprising Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Mr Victor Lye, Mr K. Muralidharan, Mr Chua Eng Leong and Mr Shamsul Kamar.

The PAP team polled 49.05 per cent.

The margin is 2,612 votes.

In the last election in 2011, WP wrested Aljunied from PAP with 54.7 per cent of the vote.

The votes for the opposition-held ward came in at only 3.10am after a recount requested by the PAP team. Recounts are permitted only if the difference in votes is equal to or less than 2 per cent of the total number of valid votes cast.

The 15 GRCs won by the PAP are Ang Mo Kio, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Chua Chu Kang, East Coast, Holland-Bukit Timah, Jalan Besar, Jurong, Marine Parade, Marsiling-Yew Tee, Nee Soon, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Sembawang, Tanjong Pagar, Tampines, West Coast.

Jurong GRC, helmed by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, garnered the highest vote share of 79.3 per cent against a Singaporeans First (SingFirst) team.

DPM Tharman's team, which also comprised Ang Wei Neng, Desmond Lee, Rahayu Mahzam, Tan Wu Meng, got 95,080 of the votes. The SingFirst team of Tan Peng Ann, David Foo, Sukdeu Singh, Wong Chee Wai and Wong Soon Hong got 24,848 or 20.7 per cent of the votes.

Five GRCs scored above 75 per cent - Jurong, Ang Mo Kio, West Coast, Tanjong Pagar and Chua Chu Kang.

The second highest PAP win among the GRCs, against a Refom Party team, was 78.6 per cent in Ang Mo Kio. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's constituency saw the PAP's largest win in the 2011 election with a 69.3 per cent vote share.

Its 2015 poll result improved upon that by 9.3 percentage points.

Jurong GRC, which polled 67 per cent in 2011, saw a 12.3 percentage point swing towards the PAP this election.

The largest vote swing was in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, where PAP won with 73.6 per cent - 16.7 percentage points more than the 2011 result of 56.9 per cent.

The PAP Bishan-Toa Payoh team of Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo as well as new faces Chee Hong Tat, Chong Kee Hiong and Saktiandi Supaat beat the Singapore People's Party team of Mr Law Kim Hwee, Mr Bryan Long, Mr Abdillah Zamzuri, Mr Hamim Aliyas and Mr Benjamin Pwee, which polled 26.4 per cent.

In all, nine GRCs polled above 70 per cent, and six won with more than 60 per cent of the vote. The GRCs that won with less than 70 per cent were contested by the WP and the Singapore Democratic Party.

In the GRC with the narrowest win, East Coast, the PAP team led by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, won with 60.7 per cent against a WP team led by Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam in what had been touted to be a close contest.

The PAP team, which also included Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman and Ms Jessica Tan, got 54,981 of the votes. The WP team of Mr Giam, Mr Daniel Goh, Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff and Mr Leon Perera got 35,547, or 39.3 per cent, of the votes.

Workers' Party squeaks through in Aljunied GRC
Narrow victory comes after a nail-biting wait - and recount requested by PAP team; chief Low Thia Khiang says party ran a good campaign
By Aaron Low, Deputy News Editor, Rachel Au-Yong and Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

What was supposed to be an easy win for the Workers' Party (WP) in Aljunied GRC in this general election turned out to be a knife-edge battle for survival.

The People's Action Party (PAP) team pushed the WP "A" team to the wire, as voters turned out in huge numbers for the ruling party all across the island.

In the end, the WP led by party chief Low Thia Khiang, 59, retained Aljunied against a tide of white, winning the GRC with a slim 50.95 per cent of votes cast, a drop of 3.77 percentage points from its winning share in 2011.

The race for Aljunied was the closest for the night and saw the PAP team asking for a recount as the difference in the margin was less than 2 percentage points.

"Despite the swing, we withstood the swing": The Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang on retaining Aljunied GRC. #GE2015
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

But the WP team, also including party chairman Sylvia Lim, 50, Mr Pritam Singh, 39, Mr Chen Show Mao, 54, and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, 40, did just enough to hold off a challenge by the men in white led by four-term MP Yeo Guat Kwang.

A sober-looking Mr Low said that the WP had run a good campaign and that he was satisfied with the performance of its candidates in the face of a huge national swing to the PAP.

"Yes, unfortunately we lost Punggol East, but that's elections. You win, you lose, that's part and parcel of life," he said. "If you look at the result, it's a massive swing. The WP has done pretty well."

He also congratulated the PAP on winning a strong mandate and securing its fourth-generation leadership.

"But what I wanted to remind the PAP is to build trust with the people and the national institutions. These national institutions include the civil service, the judiciary and the mainstream media," he said.

The PAP team comprising Mr Yeo, insurance firm director Victor Lye, 53, senior bank officer Chua Eng Leong, 44, former teacher Shamsul Kamar, 43, and lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai, 47, was dubbed by some as a "suicide squad", up against the WP heavyweights who made history in 2011 when they won the opposition's first GRC.

"It's time for us to reflect and review": People's Action Party's Yeo Guat Kwang, after the party's Aljunied GRC team was edged out by The Workers' Party.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

But at several points throughout last night, it seemed as though Aljunied GRC could return to the PAP.

News of big PAP wins elsewhere started to worry WP activists as early as 9pm, who were also hearing that their support was dropping across the five Aljunied GRC wards.

WP heavyweights Ms Lim and Mr Chen lost their wards to their PAP counterparts but big wins from Mr Faisal's and Mr Singh's wards managed to tip the GRC over to the WP.

Party sources said that Ms Lim lost her ward by just 100 votes.

But Mr Singh won his ward with a share of about 55 per cent, while Mr Faisal took over 1,000 more votes than his rival in Kaki Bukit. Mr Low also won in Bedok Reservoir by about more than 1,000 votes.

The WP's poor performance was a huge turnaround from 2011, when it won all the five wards in Aljunied. That led to the exit of two PAP Cabinet ministers - then Foreign Minister George Yeo and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Hwee Hua.

WP activists last night were at a loss for words, saying that all indicators on the ground had pointed to a comfortable victory for the party in their stronghold.

One insider said: "All the signs were positive for a strong performance. No one can explain the results right now, we'll have to really analyse what happened."

Some WP supporters attributed the drop in support to the financial status of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, which had become a major issue during the campaign.

The PAP said the WP had mismanaged the town council, pointing to its questionable finances.

But WP leaders shot back, saying that there was no wrongdoing, with Mr Low declaring at one point that "I would be serving time if I was corrupt".

Mr Jay Tan, 28, a bank worker, said: "I'm surprised. You get the impression that support for the WP is good from rallies and social media. I think the town council issue worked to PAP's favour."

The PAP team, on the other hand, were triumphant in their defeat.

Former Cabinet minister Lim Boon Heng, who advised Aljunied team, said: "A heavyweight team against a team of rookies. I think we didn't do too badly."

PAP's big wins - Ang Mo Kio GRC

PM Lee leads team to resounding victory
They garner 78.63 per cent of the vote, scoring among the highest nationwide
By Lee Su Shyan, Business Editor, Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent and Kok Xing Hui, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

The Ang Mo Kio GRC team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong turned in a thumping win with 78.63 per cent of the vote, among the highest nationwide.

The result for the People's Action Party (PAP) team was also a strong 9.3 percentage point increase from the 69.33 per cent it garnered four years ago, when it faced a team from the Reform Party too.

Mr Lee arrived at Toa Payoh Stadium around midnight for the results, accompanied by his wife Ho Ching.

In his victory speech, Mr Lee, 63, thanked supporters for the resounding mandate. Beaming broadly, Mr Lee told them: "We are very grateful, we are very happy, we are very humbled by this result. We look forward to working with you, to make Ang Mo Kio a better place, to live, work and play. Tomorrow will be better than today. SG100 will be better than SG50."

GE2015 Lee Hsien Loong on Ang Mo Kio GRC
"We are grateful, we are very happy, but at the same time we are very humbled by the trust which you have put in us, by the responsibility which we have taken on to serve you, to represent you and to look after your interests”: PM Lee Hsien Loong on his team's Ang Mo Kio GRC win.LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Enthusiastic supporters later lifted the Prime Minister and carried him on their shoulders around the stadium to non-stop cheers.

His team included Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, 39, Mr Ang Hin Kee, 49, and Mr Gan Thiam Poh, 51. New faces on the Ang Mo Kio PAP team were Mr Darryl David, 44, and colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon, 43.

Dr Koh, who had contested and lost the 2013 Punggol East by-election, said: "It's an awesome responsibility. It's a mandate to serve and to contribute."

After the sample count showed that the Reform Party had secured only 22 per cent of the vote, PAP's Mr Ang said he was "quietly confident" that they would improve on their 2011 performance.

The six-member Reform Party team was led by lawyer M. Ravi, 46, blogger Roy Ngerng, 34, career counsellor Gilbert Goh, 54, entrepreneur Osman Sulaiman, 40, former banker Jesse Loo, 52, and media trainer Siva Chandran, 31.

Team leader Mr Ravi was not seen all night, while the team members dispersed even before the results were officially announced. Mr Loo attributed the team's "poor" performance to the feel-good vibes from the SG50 celebrations, the change in the electoral boundaries and the presence of new citizens in Fernvale, for example.

Mr Ngerng, who was sued for defamation by Mr Lee last year, said: "To the new Government, I hope that they will continue to put CPF and population issues as the key issues on the table and to debate them vigorously to ensure that Singaporeans are able to get back their CPF or to ensure that the returns are good enough."

PAP supporter Mohd Rafiq, 61, who was cheering the result at Toa Payoh stadium, said: "I am very happy with the big win. Going into the election, we were a bit worried it would be 50/50, but I guess Singaporeans have shown where their support lies."

Yesterday's election was Mr Lee's fifth contest since he entered politics in 1984. He won his Teck Ghee ward twice, in 1984 and 1988, when it was a single seat. In 1991, the ward was absorbed into Ang Mo Kio GRC, which was uncontested until 2006.


We are humbled by your trust in us and we are humbled by your trust in PM Lee and the whole PAP team to take Singapore forward to a better future. There's a lot of work ahead, a lot of work ahead in Jurong, a lot of work ahead wherever we are in Singapore, a lot of work ahead to help every young child to have the best chance in life regardless of who their parents are, a lot of work ahead to help our mid-career Singaporeans whatever jobs they do, to have good careers and on a level playing field, and a lot of work ahead, a lot of work ahead to help our seniors, our seniors who built up Singapore to live satisfying and dignified lives in their retirement. This is PM Lee's plan for Singapore.We are humbled by voters' trust in us and faith in our plans and we'll work very hard to take it forward.How do we take it forward? By continuing to listen, by being open to all ideas, by checking ourselves when we make mistakes and correcting them as well as we can and to be Singaporeans together.''

- DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM, addressing supporters at Jurong West Stadium after his Jurong GRC team achieved the biggest win in this election

West turns into a fortress for PAP
By Abdul Hafiz, Assistant News Editor, Charissa Yong, Jacqueline Woo, Sanjay Nair, Adrian Lim and Wong Wei Han, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

The west, a stronghold for the politicians in white, turned into a fortress for the People's Action Party (PAP) yesterday, delivering huge wins to faces familiar and new.

Topping the victory chart was the five-member Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC), which handed Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and his team a whopping 79.3 per cent of the votes. The challengers from SingFirst, a party formed last year, got 20.7 per cent.

In the 2011 General Election, Mr Tharman's group got the second- best GRC result with 67 per cent, behind the Ang Mo Kio team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This time, with newcomers lawyer Rahayu Mahzam and oncologist Tan Wu Meng, it is No. 1.

GE2015 Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Jurong GRC
“Thank you for giving us a chance to continue to serve you with all our hearts. We are humbled by your trust in us and we are humbled by your trust in PM Lee and the whole PAP team to take Singapore forward to a better future. There’s a lot of work ahead wherever we are in Singapore”: DPM Tharman on Jurong GRC win. #GE2015LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister and into his fourth term as an MP for Jurong GRC, told The Straits Times: "This election has shown Singaporeans are fair-minded and vote based on reason."

To cheering supporters at Jurong West Stadium, he said there is a lot of work ahead "to help every young child to have the best chance in life regardless of who their parents are... to help our mid-career Singaporeans whatever jobs they do, to have good careers and on a level playing field, and a lot of work ahead to help our seniors who built up Singapore to live satisfying and dignified lives in their retirement".

Veteran politician Lim Hng Kiang also more than defended his seat in the four-member West Coast GRC, which he has held since 1997.

The Minister for Trade and Industry, whose team includes Mr S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, scored 78.6 per cent against the Reform Party's A-team led by its chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam. It got a resounding swing of 12 percentage points from 2011.

Also winning with proportions in the 70s were PAP's teams in Chua Chu Kang, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Sembawang and Tampines.

Celebrations were coupled with a mood of humility, pledges to tackle key issues hand-in-hand with the people and to continue working for those who did not vote for the incumbents, and in time win them over.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, whose five-man team at Bishan- Toa Payoh GRC included three new faces, beat Singapore People's Party with 73.6 per cent of the votes. It marked a 16.7 percentage-point shift - the night's biggest swing.

GE2015 Ng Eng Hen on Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
“Based on the indicative results, it sparks great hope for our future because it means that the whole population has not only understood but wants to preserve this kind of politics”: Dr Ng Eng Hen. LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

He described the overall national swing as very special, coming in the country's Golden Jubilee. "But my first response when looking at the results is that I'm greatly humbled."

With the overwhelming trust Singaporeans have shown in PAP, "we have a great responsibility to ensure we don't abuse it".

Asked if the town council saga involving the Workers' Party had a key role to play in the swing towards PAP, Dr Ng said he will leave that to the political analysts but added: "My own reading is Singaporeans want political leaders - of all parties - to uphold high standards."

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong took his four-member Chua Chu Kang GRC team to a 76.9 per cent vote share, routing the People's Power Party.

This is more than 15 percentage points above 2011's 61.2.

Speaking to his party's supporters at Jurong West Stadium, he said: "For those who did not support us, we will continue to engage you and win you over. We will move forward as one community, one big family."

Mr Gan told The Straits Times that the swing towards the ruling party showed Singaporeans understand what is good for the nation.

But the growing complaints on the ground about immigration and Central Provident Fund are not lost on the PAP.

"Over the last few years, we have worked hard to engage the population through many platforms,'' he said, and pledged: "That is something we will continue to do - to be on the ground, and get the people's feedback on our policies."

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, the anchor for Sembawang GRC where the team got 72.3 per cent of the votes against the National Solidarity Party (NSP), had described this election as a turning point.

The choice before people, he said, was whether to "continue with sound politics, good leadership, and one united people".

With the PAP returned with a strong mandate, Mr Khaw predicts even better years ahead.

"It's very humbling and satisfying to get such a strong mandate from our residents," said Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Teo Ser Luck, whose white shirt was soaked in sweat from shuttling between counting centres.

GE2015 Teo Chee Hean on Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
“We will work with you whether you have voted for us or not and hope that we will be able to win you over”: DPM Teo Chee Hean on PAP’s Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC win. #GE2015LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Led by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, the incumbents bagged 72.9 per cent against the Singapore Democratic Alliance, up more than eight percentage points.

Raising a pumped fist at Bedok Stadium, he promised to work for every resident "whether you voted for us or not".

The Tampines GRC team led by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat got 72.1 per cent to beat the NSP, a near-15 percentage point jump. With confirmation of the win, came hugs and selfie requests from supporters.

Still, Mr Heng did not want to celebrate too much, reiterating the call made by his PAP colleagues: "There's much work ahead."

OFFICIAL RESULTS: People's Action Party wins Tanjong Pagar GRC with 78% of the vote. #GE2015 LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

PAP’s big wins:Tanjong Pagar GRC

'We did Mr Lee Kuan Yew proud' PAP's big wins
LKY legacy, candidates' calibre and relatively weak challenge helped PAP team win big
By Aw Cheng Wei, Chua Siang Yee and Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

They may have gone 24 years without voting, but Tanjong Pagar residents left no doubt last night as to where their allegiance lay.

With the resounding mandate of 77.71 per cent for the People's Action Party (PAP) slate, voters of the five-member group representation constituency (GRC) proved once and for all that the constituency may have been untested ground, but it is rock solid PAP territory.

The margin of victory, against a challenge from new opposition party Singaporeans First (SingFirst), almost reached the electoral heights that founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Tanjong Pagar's MP for 60 years until his death in March, regularly polled in the 1970s and 1980s.

"I think we did LKY proud," said retiree Kun Kay Hong, 74, a PAP volunteer in the GRC. "If he was around, I think he would have been very proud of the margin. This win is for him - without him, there would be no Singapore."

Besides Mr Lee's enduring legacy, residents and observers pointed to two other factors that worked to the PAP team's favour: the calibre of the PAP candidates and the relatively weak challenge from a fledgling opposition party.

GE2015: Chan Chun Sing on Tanjong Pagar GRC
“Our forefathers have given us a strong foundation, we, as the younger generation, have every determination to treasure that foundation, build on that foundation, and build a better home for everyone in Tanjong Pagar and Singapore”: Chan Chun Sing on PAP’s Tanjong Pagar GRC win. LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

The winning PAP team comprises labour chief Chan Chun Sing, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah, surgeon Chia Shi-Lu and two rookies, former public servant Joan Pereira and retired police assistant commissioner Melvin Yong. Mr Chan and Ms Indranee are seen as key members of the PAP's fourth-generation political leadership.

Walkovers since 1991 had not stopped the PAP MPs and activists from diligently working the ground, said residents.

A Tanjong Pagar resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lau, said: "I think it's a deserved win because the candidates are hard-working and down-to-earth."

The 37-year-old lawyer added: "They are there all the time."

Emotions ran high in the PAP camp after news of the landslide victory. Ms Indranee, who was tearful onstage at Toa Payoh Stadium, told supporters the team would "honour the legacy of Tanjong Pagar and what it means."

"You have put your faith and confidence in us," she said. "We will not fail you."

Explaining her tears, she told reporters later that "it's like we've come full circle". "Fifty years ago, the people put their faith in the PAP to give them a brighter future. Fifty years on, they have done the same."

Mr Chan said that Singapore's forefathers have given the current generation a strong foundation.

"We have every determination to make sure we treasure that foundation and build a better home for Tanjong Pagar and Singapore."

He told reporters later that the high vote share "encourages us, as it shows that we have gotten our priorities right".

He added: "As long as we focus on residents and their welfare, I think the residents will take care of the (elections) result for us."

In the SingFirst camp, disappointment and disillusionment marked the night. The opposition slate was led by former presidential candidate Tan Jee Say and included retired army colonel Ang Yong Guan, media consultant Fahmi Rais, sales executive Melvyn Chiu Weng Hoe and risk manager Chirag Desai.

"We have done so much but the results don't reflect the effort and resources (we) put in," said Mr Tan.

"Our efforts didn't seem to add to the basic percentage (vote share) that is given to parties who don't do a lot. Why?

"What is it that people want?"

Asked if their controversial statements against foreigners - such as Mr Tan's lament on McDonald's deliverymen being Chinese nationals instead of local Malays - had lost them votes, he said: "We have always said that foreigners play an important role, so I don't think that the public thinks that we are anti-foreigner."

Bittersweet win at Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC for Madam Halimah
By Abdul Hafiz, Assistant News Editor, Adrian Lim, Toh Yong Chuan, Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh and Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

GE2015 Halimah Yacob on Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC
“This is a sweet moment for us and for me particularly, but it is also a sad moment, because as you know, my mother passed away this morning. And it has been tough and difficult journey for me over the last one week or so because she was very ill, but thank you very much for supporting us in this journey”: Halimah Yacob following PAP’s victory in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. #GE2015 LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

For Madam Halimah Yacob, last night's victory in the new Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC) filled her with mixed emotions. Just hours earlier, she had buried the woman she wanted most by her side.

Her 90-year-old mother, Madam Maimun Abdullah, died yesterday morning after having been in the hospital for the past week.

"I'm of course feeling happy but very very sad as well," she told The Straits Times early this morning after co-leading her four-member team to a 68.7 per cent share of the votes ahead of the Singapore Democratic Party. "My mother occupies a large part of my life, since my father died when I was eight years old and she brought me up. And she was my main motivator and supporter. I was hoping she could at least make it until today, but she didn't make it."

Asked about the past nine days of campaigning, she said "its been extremely tough".

"I leave home in the morning at 7am, and I finish at 11-something and then have to go to the hospital. Yesterday was very good - I managed to spend the whole day with her, and perhaps that was why she decided it was time for her to go."

Her team's co-leader Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong paid tribute to her dedication during a trying week, and the trust the voters of Marsiling-Yew Tee had placed in them.

The GRC, the only completely new electoral division in this election, was created in response to an influx of new Housing Board flats in the north of Singapore.

It took in about 61,000 voters from Sembawang GRC's Marsiling and Woodgrove wards, and another 46,000 voters from Chua Chu Kang GRC's Yew Tee ward.

The other two members of PAP's team were familiar to residents. Mr Alex Yam was MP for Yew Tee ward in Chua Chu Kang GRC, while Mr Ong Teng Koon was MP for Woodgrove in Sembawang GRC.

"Both Madam Halimah and myself came in about just a month before the election. We have not had a long runway to build relationships with the residents," said Mr Wong. He and Madam Halimah moved from West Coast GRC and Jurong GRC respectively. "So given the circumstances of contesting in a new GRC and the two of us coming in new, I would say we are very happy and very humbled by the mandate the residents have given us. We will work hard to serve residents and realise and fulfil the plans that we've laid out in our manifesto."

Law Minister K. Shanmugam, whose team claimed 66.8 per cent of the vote in five-member Nee Soon GRC against a Workers' Party challenge, said it was difficult to attribute PAP's big win to any single factor. But he believes the popularity of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Government seen as doing its best helped.

"It shows Singaporeans as being united in their support": People's Action Party's K Shanmugam on his team retaining their Nee Soon GRC seats.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

The PAP also cruised into a relatively comfortable victory at Jalan Besar GRC, winning 67.7 per cent of the votes against the WP. The result was an improvement from 2011, where the PAP team won 58.6 per cent of the votes in the GRC's predecessor Moulmein-Kallang GRC, also against a WP team.

A jubilant Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, the ward's anchor minister, told The Straits Times that the win was due to both the PAP working hard on the ground to improve the lives of residents and an overall improvement in public sentiment towards the party. "In 2011, you felt the tension - doors open, it was not pleasant. Now people are warmer," said the Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

Cleaner Ong Chin Kwee, who turned up at the Bedok Stadium to support the Jalan Besar team, said he was not surprised by the result. "The PAP has taken better care of lower-income and older voters like me in the last few years," said the 65-year-old .

The GRC has a larger lower-income base, with significant rental housing and a higher-than-average proportion of voters in one- to three-room flats.

Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Heng Chee How, part of the winning Jalan Besar team, said that work to serve residents will begin immediately. He told The Straits Times: "I am holding my Meet-the-People session on Monday."

East Coast GRC

The fierce battleground that wasn't
PAP beats Workers' Party team in East Coast GRC with 60.7% of votes cast
By Li Xueying, Hong Kong Correspondent and Wong Siew Ying, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

At 9.30pm, Mr Lee Yi Shyan was on his way to yet another counting centre when he received a call from Mr Lim Swee Say, asking him to join him at the Bedok branch of the People's Action Party (PAP) instead.

There, the two men settled down in front of the television to watch the news coverage of the election.

"It's more comfortable," Mr Lim told The Straits Times with a smile.

That the anchor minister of the PAP slate in East Coast GRC could relax in front of the TV instead of anxiously going from one counting centre to another on Polling Night, was a sign of just how his team's margin was shaping up.

In the end, East Coast GRC was the fierce battleground that wasn't.

The PAP team won handily over its Workers' Party rivals, with 60.7 per cent of the votes cast, a six percentage-point improvement over its performance in 2011.

"We promise to improve and do better next time": People's Action Party's Lim Swee Say, after his East Coast GRC team won.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Expectations had been that East Coast GRC, bordering the WP-held Aljunied GRC and the most narrowly won GRC for the PAP in 2011, would see a tight race.

Sensing vulnerability, the WP put forward a slate that was touted to be its next generation of leaders.

Mr Gerald Giam, 37, an IT solutions architect; Mr Leon Perera, 44, a research and consultancy firm chief executive; Dr Daniel Goh, 42, a sociologist at the National University of Singapore; and Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36, a former librarian, were the fresh faces also given the high-profile role of drafting the party's election manifesto.

They arrived at Hougang Stadium last night, subdued. Some supporters sobbed. Others left, leaving the most loyal to fill less than half the space that had been packed during the rallies. "Most of us thought it was going to be a close fight, since the WP has put together a good team to stand here," said engineer Samuel Wong, 25, a Simei resident.

Mr Giam thanked the quiet crowd and promised to continue to fight on. He declined to say if he would take up again the position of non-constituency MP, given to the opposition's best performing losing candidates.

It was a different mood at Bedok Stadium. Outside, all four PAP candidates arrived almost at the same time for the results. Glimpsing teammate, Minister of State Mohamad Maliki Osman, 50, Mr Lim walked over and gave him a hug,

Inside, jubilant PAP supporters greeted the team with a rockstar reception, mobbing them for an endless stream of selfies.

Dr Maliki and his wife, Madam Sadiah Shahal, 47, a housewife, meanwhile shared a quiet moment, locked in a long embrace across a fence. She whispered: "We did it." He replied: "Thank you, sayang."

The fourth PAP candidate was Ms Jessica Tan, 49, Microsoft Singapore's managing director.

Mr Lim told The Straits Times his team would not take the residents' support for granted: "The last four years, we did our best to serve the residents. Next five years, we are going to do even more."

The PAP team on the ground had waged a tactical campaign battle. While national leaders trained their guns at the WP over its handling of finances at the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, the East Coast GRC team avoided the negative campaigning that could have turned residents off.

Instead, it focused on the work done by its MPs, such as the upgrading of Bedok Central. The quartet had also revamped the way they engaged residents, emphasising intimate dialogue. Mr Lim, for instance, conducted over 125 talks on Medishield Life and the Pioneer Generation Package, to groups ranging in size from 70 to 150.

East Coast GRC resident Annie See Toh, 40, an assistant human resources manager, called Mr Lim "a very people person", saying: "We always see him in the area meeting residents."

Hype over the WP slate may also have propelled a swathe of swing voters - concerned about the opposition's seemingly speedy ascent - to throw their support behind the PAP.

Said Ms Cheryl Tan, 33, a procurement executive: "We were quite worried because the WP has strong support base and the attendance at rallies was very high."

Ultimately, the WP's call for Singaporeans to "entrench the opposition" - its East Coast team at the forefront - failed to gain traction among the constituency's residents, half of whom live in private property. Instead, the PAP's exhortation for residents to compare the teams man for man, rather than to give the opposition a "discount" appeared to have caught on.

On what is next, Mr Lee said the team would be rolling out programmes for the elderly, youth and young parents.

Adds Mr Lim: "This time round, 38 per cent of the residents did not vote for us. We will not give up."

Additional reporting by Joanna Seow, Wong Kim Hoh and Calvin Yang

No close shave, no tears. Just smiles
By Wong Kim Hoh, Senior Writer, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

At 7.30 last night at the People's Action Party branch in Bedok, administrator Nelly Wong told a colleague about a dream she had the night before.

"I dreamt that we won 60 per cent of the vote. All the voters I saw had nice, pleasant faces and were not angry," she said.

Her dream was prescient. A few hours later, the PAP team - led by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say - trumped rivals from the Workers' Party to retain East Coast GRC with 60.73 per cent of the votes.

Around the same time that she talked about her dream, Mr Lim was in a car with his security officer. He had told staff and supporters that he would stop by the Bedok branch before heading out to a few of the counting centres in the East.

But anxiety probably got the better of him; he headed straight for Temasek Secondary School instead.

Half an hour later, he was seen leaving the counting centre in a black car, looking intently at the screen of his smartphone.

Intriguingly, he dropped plans to visit other centres and went back to the Bedok branch where he closed the door to his office. He was soon joined by his teammate, Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan. When asked what big pow-wow they were having inside, an aide replied cryptically: "They're watching TV".

Mr Lim emerged at about 11 pm, a sweet in his mouth, and a big smile on his face. By then, a sample count had indicated that the PAP had managed 61 per cent of the vote in what had been touted as the hottest battle in the election.

Pundits had expected the WP - led by Mr Gerald Giam - to perform even better in its third bid for the GRC. At the 2011 polls, the WP got 45.17 per cent of the vote - up from 36.14 in 2006.

Heng ah?

Mr Lim scrunched his face into a mock grimace. The Hokkien colloquialism - used to express relief - had landed him into a pickle recently when he declared he was fortunate he was born in Singapore, and not Malaysia and China. "Eh, cannot use that word. Not at the moment. Please don't get me into trouble."

He was, he said, just grateful and relieved. "We've had very encouraging reactions on the ground during the nine days of campaigning. You could tell from the body language of the voters, the friendliness and the words of encouragement. But we were not sure if that would translate into votes for us."

"I'm just very grateful and very relieved. And we will never take this for granted," he said as he made his way to Bedok Stadium, an assembly centre for the PAP.

It was a sweet cap to a long day.

"I went to bed at 1.30am, but woke up in the middle of the night because of a very confusing dream. In the dream I could not figure out if it was a Monday or a Tuesday. When I woke up, it took me some time to realise it was actually Polling Day," said Mr Lim who spent the bigger part of the day visiting more than a dozen polling centres.

At Bedok Stadium, the minister was treated like a rock star as hordes surged to shake his hand, hug him and take selfies with him.

Housewife Peggy Leong said: "We were a little worried we might lose him because we saw the bookies' predictions, but deep in my heart, I knew people would be level-headed. He was really hardworking."

Though known for his propensity to break into tears, Mr Lim was happily composed last night. "I will head back and catch up on sleep. Tomorrow we must start showing my voters our appreciation. And on Monday, life goes on. We will have a meet-the-people session."

WP leadership renewal may hit snag with East Coast loss
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

They were the dream team put together by the Workers' Party (WP) leadership for a purpose: to entrench the opposition party in Parliament. But it was not to be for these next-generation leaders in East Coast GRC.

In the end, former Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) Gerald Giam, 37, National University of Singapore sociology professor Daniel Goh, 42, consulting firm chief executive Leon Perera, 44, and former public servant Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36, fell short of fulfilling their promise, polling 39.27 per cent of votes and losing to the People's Action Party team there.

The result was worse than the party's showing of 45.17 per cent in the 2011 General Election.

Team leader Mr Giam declined to comment on the slide.

But in a speech at Hougang Stadium last night, he said: "We've tried our best and we will continue to fight on, to fight for Singaporeans, to fight for the rights of Singaporeans, to fight for a better future for Singapore."

With the results, the team has secured one NCMP seat in Parliament, but team members said they would leave it up to the party to decide who would take it.

Polling day had started on an optimistic note for the team, with pundits predicting a win.

As Mr Giam delivered food to supporters at counting stations in East Coast GRC at night, he was in a cautiously upbeat mood.

Team member Mohamed Fairoz looked similarly relaxed when he arrived at the counting centre at Fengshan Primary School.

Right from the start, the party's main focus this general election had been on East Coast GRC and on getting its team there into Parliament, party sources said.

All four faces took centre stage in presenting the party's election manifesto, for example, instead of party chief Low Thia Khiang and his deputy Sylvia Lim.

During walkabouts, Mr Low often introduced them personally to residents. At the party's final election rally on Wednesday night, he also singled out the quartet for special mention, saying: "I believe they have what it takes to look deeply at policies and debate them in Parliament. If they are elected, they will strengthen WP's ability to debate on policies."

The team was aware of the high hopes pinned on them.

While they declined to comment last night, "second-in-charge" Dr Goh had said during an interview with The Straits Times last week: "We need 20 (WP MPs in Parliament), so I guess we are part of the 20 in the equation."

The four have also refused to speculate on whether they have been earmarked as future party leaders, but acknowledged that the election results would affect the party's leadership renewal process.

Mr Giam had said during the same interview last week: "If, let's say, voters decide that Aljunied was enough and seven MPs are enough, then that would be what the state of politics will be in the next five years.

"We are hoping they would want to have more credible opposition members in Parliament and that is where we can advance the party and advance the renewal of the party."

Asked if they felt pressure to do well, Mr Perera had replied: "The pressure we feel comes from within ourselves, and comes from (the) passion to make Singapore better and stronger.

"That's fundamentally what has motivated all of us to step forward into what we do here."

Dr Goh had added: "If we start thinking about winning, losing, hopes, burden, cross, salvation and stuff like that, it will just cripple us, it will just cripple anyone."

Last night at Hougang Stadium, Dr Goh promised volunteers and supporters he would fight on and asked them to "keep dreaming".

For now, the party's renewal process may have hit a snag.

While Mr Giam and Dr Goh are members of the party's central executive committee, it is not known how the election results will affect them during the party election due next year. When asked last week about the expectations on him and his team, Mr Giam had said: "Certainly, whoever wins a seat in the election would have a central role to play in policymaking and decision-making in the party.

"But the way I see it, the election is a choice that the voters make, it's not something that can be forced...

"I'm not indispensable to the party, I'm sure the party can progress with or without me as MP."

Marine Parade GRC

Surprise over Marine Parade's big win margin
Keen fight with strong WP team expected after narrow win against NSP in 2011 polls
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent and Chong Zi Liang, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

It was a heavyweight clash deemed too close to call. But when the dust finally settled in the battle for Marine Parade GRC, surprise greeted not so much the news of the victor, but the margin of the win.

The People's Action Party (PAP) team, led by first-time anchor minister Tan Chuan-Jin, cruised to victory against the Workers' Party (WP), winning 64.07 per cent of the votes to strengthen their grip on the five-member group representation constituency (GRC).

The advantage had been with the incumbent PAP team, which had held Marine Parade ever since it became a GRC in 1988.

But after a narrow 56.64 per cent win against a relatively unknown National Solidarity Party team in 2011, many had anticipated a close fight, with Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong leading the opposition team. However, the WP team mustered only 47,629 of the 132,568 votes cast.

GE2015 Goh Chok Tong on Marine Parade GRC
The people have spoken and given very strong mandate to PM and his team: Goh Chok Tong.LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Mr Tan, 46, told The Straits Times: "The sentiments you pick up, you read online, then the bookie list was going around... In that sense, it's been a lot more positive. I had not expected (a win), not to this degree."

The Social and Family Development Minister added: "We just did what we believed is right.

"We stuck to our principles, (we) stayed focused on the fundamentals. It's a bit like a leap of faith, (wondering) whether it will translate to support?"

The widely-anticipated keen fight between a team with a minister and a former prime minister and the WP's second-best team fizzled out fairly early on. The sample count results confirmed what the PAP had been hearing throughout the night: that they had the edge.

The team joined supporters at Bedok Stadium shortly after 10pm and were greeted with loud cheers when the results were confirmed.

Mr Tan and his teammates - Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, 74, and incumbents Mr Seah Kian Peng, 53, Ms Fatimah Lateef, 49, and Mr Edwin Tong, 46 - pledged to continue putting residents first.

Said Mr Tan, who built his campaign around house visits: "Our focus will always be on our people and our nation that we love and we call home. And we will never lose that focus.

"We may be of different colours, we may have different views.

"But we can be a better society and we will be a great nation. Whatever happens tonight, let us come back tomorrow as one."

Mr Goh, who will serve his 10th term in Parliament, said: "The people have spoken.

"They have supported the PAP in a very clear way and they have given a very strong mandate to (Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) and his team, his programme for the last four, five years and his agenda for the future.

"This mandate has enabled PM to carry on with his pledge to build for Singapore a fourth-generation team that will take Singapore over the next 10 to 15 years."

Mr Goh's comments on opposition parties had drawn some flak from netizens and resulted in a war of words between the WP and the PAP. He had countered the WP's claim that having more opposition voices led the Government to adopt more inclusive policy measures, likening it to the story of the rooster boasting that its crowing causes the sun to rise.

Besides calling opposition parties "nomads" who do not have an interest in the people's welfare, Mr Goh also said that voting for the opposition was like taking a gambling cruise ship to nowhere.

The WP team, comprising Mr Yee, 50, lawyer Terence Tan, 44, chocolate factory owner Firuz Khan, 48, corporate lawyer He Tingru, 32, and wealth manager Dylan Ng, 40, said they respected the people's decision.

Said Mr Yee, an education business owner: "I pray that passionate people that we have put forward this time round will... continue this very difficult journey to build a responsible, respectable and rational party."

Chuan-Jin helps party run away with bigger majority
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent and Boon Chan, Media Correspondent, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

In the sea of white at Bedok Stadium last night, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin's red track shoes stood out.

Emblazoned with the words "maju" and "lah", the customised kicks had been an integral part of the People's Action Party candidate's campaign trail and, in a way, the narrative of the ruling party's victory in Marine Parade GRC. The 46-year- old had been wearing the red shoes in the nine days that he pounded the pavement in the area, running from house to house to canvass for votes.

It worked as he led the five-man PAP team to a resounding victory against the Workers' Party. He even managed to widen the margin, winning 64.07 per cent of the vote, up from the 56.6 per cent in GE2011.

Yesterday jubilant supporters were heard shouting "Run Chuan- Jin run", in a reference to a popular catchphrase in the movie Forrest Gump. Leading the team for the first time as anchor minister, the former army brigadier-general also did not hold a rally for the GRC.

Instead, he went house to house.

"We just wanted to reach out and touch base with people, who we have been meeting on so many occasions in between... this allows us to touch base in a much more intimate fashion," Mr Tan said.

The anchor minister said he has been running during house visits since the 2011 General Election and in the past four years during house visits as an MP. It was this personal touch and those of his team, including ESM Goh Chok Tong, which made the difference.

Those efforts have not gone unnoticed. Marketing executive Grace Sung, who is from Marine Parade constituency, said: "The PAP has been trying to listen to different opinions and has put effort into trying to change things."

The 23-year-old added that there have been improvements to the infrastructure over the last few years, including lift upgrades and addition of covered walkways.

Mr Tan, who was identified by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to be part of the nucleus of next-generation leaders, said earlier this week that the party needs to change the way it communicates with people.

Asked if the PAP's victory was also buoyed by the feel-good factor of the SG50 celebrations, Mr Tan said: "You would expect some sort of positive boost but I don't think to this degree. If you hadn't put in the work, you hadn't put in the outreach, I don't think SG50 would have made such a huge impact the way this has been. It's really working hard and going back to addressing concerns. It's encouraging to know that it's not (about) playing games (but) focusing on doing the right things."

Yee Jenn Jong unlikely to get NCMP seat after defeat by 'giants'
By Chong Zi Liang, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

It was second time unlucky for Workers' Party (WP) candidate Yee Jenn Jong, who once again fell short of a winning margin.

This time it was against a People's Action Party (PAP) slate that includes a minister who is part of the fourth-generation leadership core and a former prime minister.

A few days into the campaign, Mr Yee was asked about the prospects of competing against Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong in Marine Parade GRC. "Sometimes you're up against giants. I signed up for this knowing who the likely opponents are," he had said.

In the end, the political giants proved to be too large an obstacle to surmount for the "son of Joo Chiat" - as Mr Yee is known to his supporters. His team got 35.9 per cent of the votes.

In 2011, he entered Parliament as a Non-Constituency MP after losing to PAP's Charles Chong by a mere 388 votes in the Joo Chiat Single-Member Constituency (SMC). During his time in Parliament, Mr Yee - an education business owner - raised questions on the education system and policies on small and medium-sized enterprises.

He said he started walking the ground in the Marine Parade and Kembangan-Chai Chee divisions more than a year ago as he could not be sure if the SMC would still be on the electoral map for this election.

After the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee's report in July confirmed that Joo Chiat would be absorbed into Marine Parade GRC, he conducted house visits in the constituency almost every day.

"We tried very hard and although Marine Parade GRC may not yet be blue, but one day we believe it will," he said after the results.

Party sources told The Straits Times the WP had gone into Marine Parade GRC hoping to score a solid result that the party could build on in the next polls.

But the team had sensed, as the campaign went on, that it would be a close race and an upset might even have been on the cards.

However, the PAP's winning margin means the WP's Marine Parade GRC slate is not likely to be offered a Non-Constituency MP seat, given to losing opposition candidates who score the highest percentage of votes.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC

Expected close fight did not happen
PAP team improves performance by 6 percentage points over 2011
By Tan Hui Yee, Thailand Correspondent, Joyce Lim and Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

The contest in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC this election had looked like a close fight but turned out to be a rout. Residents, who initially gave a warm reception to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), handed the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP) team a resounding 66.62 per cent of the vote last night, improving its performance by a good 6 percentage points compared with the last elections.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who led the four-member PAP team comprising Minister of State Sim Ann, banker Liang Eng Hwa and lawyer Christopher de Souza, told reporters at Jurong West Stadium last night: "I see this as an investment of hard work and relationship building, which takes years, not something which you do over nine days."

The win was also significant because residents of private and public housing estates voted the same way, he said.

"We are a unique GRC in the sense that we have the highest percentage of private estates. And I'm very pleased to see that this was one outcome in which both residents in private estates as well as the HDB estates gave us a resounding victory, and there was no divergence, there was no difference.

"So this speaks well for the unity and cohesion for Singapore."

"It has been a tough battle, I think this is a good outcome ... We will continue to work very hard both on the ground, as well as in Parliament": PAP's Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, on plans for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC after #GE2015.LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Over at the SDP headquarters in Ang Mo Kio, an upbeat SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan had told reporters before counting began: "The mood is different… Then again with the advent of social media, things are opening up and people are learning to be a bit more comfortable in their own skin and really excited about the voting process as well."

But the mood turned grimmer when sample votes showed the SDP comfortably beaten. A stoic-looking Dr Chee said at the press conference called at about 2am: "We are proud of the fact that we ran a disciplined and positive campaign... Despite everything that has happened, the opposition still labours under a very undemocratic system."

Dr Chee's team - which included National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine professor Paul Tambyah, compliance auditor Sidek Mallek and healthcare administrator Chong Wai Fung - was widely considered SDP's strongest among the two GRCs and three SMCs it was contesting in.

Yet its vote share slid from 39.9 per cent in 2011 to 33.38 per cent last night, marking a disappointing return to the polls for Dr Chee.

He had been forced to sit out the past two elections after being made bankrupt by defamation suits brought against him by PAP leaders, and managed to get his bankruptcy annulled only in 2012.

It was an election that the SDP had geared up for early. It launched its campaign in January, way before elections were called.

During the hustings, the SDP focused on a range of alternative housing, retirement and healthcare policies that it had churned out in recent years. These included a national minimum wage, a health investment fund as well as cheaper public housing if the units were not resold on the open market.

And some of these policies did sound attractive, say residents.

Dr Balakrishnan, who has argued that the proposals are not financially sound, told reporters: "Well I think the voters have cast their judgment on their policies. And I think we'll move on from there."

Mr Ching Jianhong, 33, an instructor at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, said: "I would say that Dr Paul Tambyah's arguments on the medical issues are good." But the results are "quite expected", he noted. "Given Dr Chee's past record, the PAP stood a higher chance."

Dr Chee has been fined and jailed for various acts of civil disobedience in the past. The PAP team raised the issue of his past infractions right from the start of campaigning, something which the SDP dismissed as an attempt to distract voters from the real issues.

Additional reporting by Rennie Whang and Nur Idayu Suparto

PAP loyalists surprised after fearing the worst
By Tan Hui Yee and Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

People's Action Party (PAP) loyalists feared the worst when they saw crowds swarm around Dr Chee Soon Juan whenever the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief turned up in Holland Bukit-Timah GRC during campaigning. Some lined up to take photographs with the former psychology lecturer, who had to sit out two elections after being bankrupted by defamation lawsuits.

All the expectations of a tough fight between the incumbent PAP team and the SDP faded when the announcement came that the PAP had won the GRC with 66.62 per cent of the votes.

Residents expressed surprise that the team led by Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan did so well despite the publicity that the SDP team, which includes tenured medical professor Paul Tambyah, received.

"I'm surprised by the high percentage of votes. We thought the opposition was quite strong," said Mr Hu Hong Yao, 27, a fresh graduate. "The SDP - they were strong on social media and on Facebook, and at rallies, they got very good response."

Another resident who was pleasantly surprised was housewife Vineswari R. Ratnaval, 36, a volunteer with the PAP, who said: "It was a very tough battle. During the walkabouts, we came across a lot of people who were not nice to us.

"I was very worried SDP might win. But we just went ahead with the walkabouts and voted."

But another resident, Mr Tan Shuo Yan, 28, felt the PAP's good performance in Holland-Bukit Timah made sense in the wider context of the national swing towards the ruling party.

"I hope that my representatives will use the stronger mandate to deliver on more inclusive and empathetic policies and politics," he said.

Chee's polls comeback after 14 years ends in defeat
By Joyce Lim, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

It was billed as his comeback after 14 years in the political wilderness and the talk was that Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan and his team contesting Holland-Bukit Timah GRC would give their People's Action Party (PAP) rivals a close fight.

But it was hardly close, and the SDP team won just 33.4 per cent of the votes - lower than its vote share in the last polls in 2011.

Despite Dr Chee's more moderate image this time round, some voters of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC said they remained unsure about him, given his past.

"Track record is important. One cannot change overnight," said Mr Ching Jianhong, 33, a Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School instructor.

Dr Chee, who had made his political debut at age 30 in a Marine Parade by-election in 1992, made headlines for going on a hunger strike in 1993. The former psychology lecturer did so to protest against his sacking from the National University of Singapore, claiming that it was politically motivated.

In 2001, he was sued for defamation by former prime minister Goh Chok Tong and the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew for remarks he made during the elections that year. Dr Chee lost the lawsuit, became a bankrupt and was unable to take part in the last two elections.

But Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan felt it was premature to say that the election result is a "decisive rejection of Dr Chee".

"Voters are still getting to know Dr Chee," said Prof Tan, stressing that he was standing in an election for the first time since 2001.

"Voters are still wary of his past. He will need to show that the image makeover that went very well, especially with the online community, is something that is for real."

Despite the results, Dr Chee, 53, said he "remains hopeful".

At a press conference this morning, he said the SDP had "won a lot of hearts and hopefully that will put us in good stead as we go into the future, to the next elections".

Dr Chee contested the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC with medical professor Paul Tambyah, 50; compliance auditor Sidek Mallek, 55; and healthcare administrator Chong Wai Fung, 45. They were up against a PAP team led by Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, 54.

Dr Chee had won favourable comments online for his rally speeches during the nine-day campaign, with the crowds at his rallies growing bigger each day.

When The Straits Times followed him and his wife around the polling centres in Bukit Panjang yesterday, voters were seen going up to greet and encourage him. One even stopped his car to ask for a photo with him.

"People get really excited during election time and especially at rallies, but their reactions to him would not necessarily translate into votes," Dr Chee's wife, Ms Huang Chih-mei, 53, said.

Despite the loss, Dr Chee, who has contested in three previous elections, saw the positive aspect of his run this time.

It was the first time that he has received such a warm reception from voters, he said. Previously, when voters saw him "it's like they've seen a ghost", he said.

Earlier during the day, his homemaker wife, Ms Huang, had told The Straits Times that whatever the outcome, she believes Dr Chee would take it in his stride.

"It's not the first time he has lost in an election. Unlike the other first-time candidates, who were more excited and anxious about the results, he is quite calm.

"And I have told him that he is 10 years younger than PM Lee. And he still has time."

Additional reporting by Rennie Whang and Nur Idayu Suparto

GE2015: Other opposition parties

Worse-than-expected results take opposition by surprise
Proportion of votes scored by smaller opposition parties shrinks compared with GE 2011 across all contested constituencies
By Jessica Lim, Kok Xing Hui, Aw Cheng Wei, Janice Tai and Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2015

It was a dismal showing all round for the lesser-known opposition parties.

The disappointment was so great that the National Solidarity Party (NSP) suddenly stopped contact with the media once results were announced yesterday; Singapore Democratic Alliance's (SDA) chief Desmond Lim went home before official results emerged; and the Reform Party's (RP) Ang Mo Kio candidate Osman Sulaiman was seen in tears as he left a counting centre.

The RP team standing against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's line-up in Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC) scored just 21.37 per cent of the vote - down from 30.67 per cent in 2011. It scored 21.43 per cent in West Coast GRC, down from 33.43 per cent in 2011. In the three-way battle for Radin Mas single-member constituency (SMC), RP's Kumar Appavoo came away with just 12.71 per cent of the votes.

Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam said the party had fewer volunteers compared with 2011 and that it had lost the Clementi ward in which it scored particularly high in the last elections. "Basically we put this down to the novelty wearing off, of a new party," he told Channel NewsAsia last night. "But now I see it's absolutely nationwide. There's been a huge swing to the PAP.

Kenneth Jeyaretnam on sample count results
“This is not a mandate for the PAP’s economic policies … All this is a mandate for authoritarianism and brainwashing”: Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam on sample count results. #GE2015 LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

"All this is a mandate for authoritarianism and brainwashing... I guess Singaporeans get the government they deserve, so I don't want to hear any more complaints."

The SDA also proved no match for the People's Action Party (PAP) team in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, anchored by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. On its third time contesting the GRC, it garnered just 27.11 per cent of the votes, down from the 35.21 per cent in 2011.

The party's chief media officer Harminder Pal Singh blamed five factors: The SG50 feel-good effect, the effect of the passing of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew this year, the carving out of areas that gave high support to their party in 2011, swing votes from new citizens, and the "constant harping" on the town council issue by the PAP.

The NSP, meanwhile, was dragged down by its decision to pursue a three-cornered fight in MacPherson SMC. Its candidate there, Mr Cheo Chai Chen, received just 215 votes, or 0.82 per cent, not enough to retain his $14,500 election deposit. The deposit will be forfeited if a candidate receives less than 12.5 per cent of the votes in their constituency.

The party was also handicapped by at least eight high-profile departures since the last general election, including that of then-acting secretary-general Hazel Poa, after the party's U-turn over the decision to pursue MacPherson SMC. Then, Mr Cheo sparked a backlash when he said that PAP rival Tin Pei Ling's new status as a mother was a weakness.

The party, which fielded 12 candidates, obtained 23.66 per cent of the vote in Pioneer SMC and 27.72 per cent in Sembawang. Its best score was 27.94 per cent in Tampines.

The People's Power Party (PPP), led by Mr Goh Meng Seng, scored 23.11 per cent of the votes in the only constituency it contested, Chua Chu Kang GRC - a substantially lower score than NSP's 38.8 per cent in 2011. But Mr Goh said that they were surprised at the number of voters who chose them, considering they lacked branding and media coverage.

Singaporeans First (SingFirst) was also surprised, but by its low score. The party fought its battle in two PAP strongholds, scoring 22.29 per cent in Tanjong Pagar and 20.72 per cent in Jurong.

Tanjong Pagar GRC, which saw a walkover in 2011, until now had never been contested since its formation in 1991.

#GE2015 results not consistent with feedback we've heard from ground: SingFirst's Tan Jee Say. LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Last night, the mood was sombre at the SingFirst's operations centre in Tras Street as the party's 10 candidates streamed back from their counting centres looking resigned.

SingFirst secretary-general Tan Jee Say said: "We are very surprised and disappointed with the results. Even though we are one year old, results were worse than expected. The results were contrary to ground sentiment. We need to rethink our strategy."

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