Sunday, 27 January 2013

Workers' Party wins Punggol East by-election




WP sweeps Punggol East with 54.5%
Victory margin of nearly 11 percentage points surprises political observers
By Jeremy Au Yong, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

It was touted as a close fight, but Workers' Party (WP) candidate Lee Li Lian, 34, sailed into Parliament on her second attempt yesterday, riding on the crest of strong support in the Punggol East single- member constituency.

The final margin of victory was nearly 11 percentage points, or more than 3,000 votes, as she overturned decisively the scores of two years ago.

This time, she raked in 54.52 per cent of the votes. The People's Action Party's (PAP) Dr Koh Poh Koon picked up just 43.71 per cent, a rout that stunned observers and PAP MPs alike.

Talk of spoilers and dark horses proved unfounded as the two others in the four-cornered fight - the Reform Party's Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam and Singapore Democratic Alliance's Mr Desmond Lim - netted less than 2 per cent of the vote combined. Both lost their deposits, and Mr Lim gained the dubious honour of scoring the smallest vote share since independence.

Though the mood could not have been more different in the PAP and WP camps last night, both sides emerged with forward-looking statements about tasks ahead.

Said WP chairman Sylvia Lim: "We accept this victory with gratitude and humility, conscious of the responsibilities it carries and the expectations of Singaporeans in Punggol East and elsewhere."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in turn, congratulated Ms Lee and her party, and stressed that the Government must continue with its work, saying: "Our plans and programmes are already in progress. But they are geared towards the longer term, and will take time to show results. The PAP will continue to work to improve the lives of Singaporeans, and present our report card for voters to judge in the next general elections."

He added that he respected the choice of Punggol East voters.

The past two weeks had been punctuated by big ticket announcements including an expansion of the rail network, a large increase of subsidies and grants to encourage Singaporeans to get married and have children, and a seventh round of property cooling measures.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, too, cast his eye to the future: "For the Government and the PAP, the hard work continues... And I hope that the voters of Punggol East can give us their support the next time."

In reflecting on the loss, the PAP last night pointed to several factors that eroded its vote share almost from the word go.

First were the damaging circumstances that precipitated the by-election. Last month, the popular MP and Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer left the seat vacant after stepping down over an extramarital affair. In 2011, he had won with 54.5 per cent of the vote against Ms Lee's 41 per cent, and Mr Lim's 4.5 per cent, after the ward was carved out from neighbouring Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC.

Then, there was the by-election effect, a point raised both by PM Lee and DPM Teo last night.

"In a by-election, the governing party candidate always has a tougher fight. Voters see it as choosing an MP, not choosing a government, and opposition parties encourage them to do so," said Mr Lee. During the campaign, he had urged voters not to vote tactically but to pick the party that would serve them best.

DPM Teo, who had first said there would be a close fight, put it this way last night: "There were circumstances already as we came into the by-election. And of course there were local issues as well."

WP leaders acknowledged that the by-election effect played a part, but they and other opposition supporters also pointed to what appears to be a growing appetite for alternative voices in Parliament and lingering unhappiness with the PAP over issues that emerged in 2011.

Party chief Low Thia Khiang, speaking at a midnight press conference, returned to a message he had put forward in the campaign, that voters should vote for the WP to make the PAP work harder.

But, he also reprised the constructive tone that he had begun the WP campaign with: "Although many policies have been reviewed and the Government has been working towards that, the result shows that the effect has not really trickled down to the ground and people still feel the pressure of high cost of living and many other things as well. So I would expect that the Government will work harder on that and the WP will assist whenever we can."

The results also serve to consolidate the WP's position as Singapore's dominant opposition party. It now expands its presence in Parliament from six to seven MPs, plus two Non-Constituency MPs.

The night had begun with little hint of what was to come. About 45 minutes after polls closed at 8pm, all signs pointed to a tight race.

Then the WP tide became clear as agents began reporting that it was pulling ahead. As the updates rolled in, more WP supporters began pouring in to join others who had gathered at a coffee shop in Hougang.

By the night's end, the crowd had spilled onto the streets, with people chanting in Hokkien, "thank you, Palmer", as they waited for party leaders.

At the PAP branch in Punggol East, activists huddled together, some blinking back tears.

A stoic Dr Koh thanked volunteers and those who voted for him, as he said it was not the end of the road for him: "I would like to continue serving where the party feels is appropriate and the best place for me."

Mr Lee added that he still intends to bring Dr Koh into his team.

For Singapore's newest MP, Ms Lee, the top priority now is to ensure a smooth handover. She said: "This is a privilege entrusted to me by you. I'm grateful to be given the opportunity to serve... While I celebrate this victory tonight, I know there is a lot of work to be done."






Effects of policy changes 'not felt yet'
WP chief says result shows voters want Govt to work harder to deliver what it promises
By Kor Kian Beng & Janice Heng, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

The strong showing by the Workers' Party (WP) in yesterday's by-election signals that voters want not only competition but also the Government to work harder to deliver what it promises, said party chief Low Thia Khiang.

"Although many policies have been reviewed and the Government has been working towards that, the result shows the effect has not really trickled down to the ground and people still feel the pressure of the high cost of living and many other things as well," he said at a midnight press conference.

"So I would expect that the Government will work harder on that and the WP will assist whenever we can."

His pledge to work with the Government is seen as an attempt to temper rising expectations of the WP given its recent successes.

The outcome in Punggol East marks its third big electoral win in two years, after its historic capture of Aljunied GRC at the 2011 General Election and the successful defence of its Hougang stronghold in a by-election last May.

WP candidate Lee Li Lian, 34, a trainer, defeated three male rivals, including People's Action Party rookie Koh Poh Koon, in a four-cornered fight.

But after days of talk by candidates and pundits that it would be a close fight, Ms Lee scored a surprisingly wide winning margin over her closest rival, Dr Koh, 40, a colorectal surgeon.

She garnered 54.5 per cent of valid votes cast, compared with Dr Koh's 43.7 per cent. Her performance was a 13.5 percentage-point spike from her showing in Punggol East during the 2011 General Election.

On her first outing as a candidate that year, she lost to the PAP's Mr Michael Palmer, who triggered yesterday's by-election after he resigned last month over an extramarital affair.

Mr Low's pledge last night to assist the Government was the second time in the by-election that he has taken such a conciliatory stance with the PAP.

In a letter mailed to Punggol East voters during the campaign, Mr Low said he believed the Government should be given time to correct its shortcomings though he promised that the WP would continue to keep a watchful eye.

And while policy changes are still in progress, heightened politicking would not help Singapore, he wrote.

But taking that position has seen the WP coming under fire from critics for being too soft on the Government.

Last night, however, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said the party was "very encouraged" by the results and believed it signalled voters' endorsement of its style of politics.

"We take it as a sign that at least the residents in Punggol East do see some value in having WP MPs in Parliament and at least the majority of them endorsed our brand of politics," she added.

But she also said the result was due in part to the impact of its electoral campaign, which "has been felt on the ground with the PAP ministers and MPs scrambling to react up to the eleventh hour".

On the last day of campaigning, the PAP camp deployed ministers and MPs to congregation points in Punggol East, where WP leaders were soliciting support for Ms Lee.

Pointing to those efforts, Ms Lim said: "This is also an important episode for Singaporeans to take note of - the value of political competition in getting the Government to sit up and take notice."




MP-elect gets down to business quickly
She names date and place for her first meeting with constituents

By Tessa Wong And Andrea Ong, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

An hour after winning, the Workers' Party's (WP) seventh elected MP, Ms Lee Li Lian, showed she meant business by announcing that she would hold her first Meet-the-People (MPS) session in a week's time, on Feb 4.

She even identified the location - Block 135, Rivervale Street - in her first remarks at a post-polls press conference last night.

"Please put that down, so that people can read (it). Thank you," said the Punggol East MP-elect with her familiar toothy grin.

The weekly MPS is among her first tasks after her victory last night. Taking over the town council is next.

"As we are all aware, the current Punggol East town council is actually under the Pasir Ris-Punggol town council. So that will be the most immediate thing I need to do," she said, after garnering 54.5 per cent of the valid votes in the by-election.

"After which I will also need to build up a group of volunteers to help lead grassroots as well as community events in Punggol East."

She is clearly in a hurry despite just coming off nine days of near non-stop campaigning.

"If I have the time and chance, I want to tackle everything at one (go)," she said last night.

Wasting no time is a lesson learnt from an early age by the MP-elect, who found that second chances have to be cherished after several hard knocks from an early age.

As a plucky 12-year-old, she decided to collect her PSLE results on her own. She was devastated when she found that she would have to attend the Normal Academic stream in secondary school.

"I didn't expect that kind of result. Back then, there was the stigma that if you need to study five years, that means you jialat, you cannot make it," said the 34-year-old in a recent interview with The Sunday Times.

She called her mother from a public phone, but cried before she could say anything. Her mother was very encouraging, she recalled. "That made it worse for me. I felt very guilty and cried even louder."

The episode - and how she bounced back from it - has shaped her approach to life and politics, she added.

Ms Lee said she fought back through sheer hard work and grit in her five years at Holy Innocents' High. In her last year before taking her O levels, she made herself write a composition a day to improve her English.

In the end, the daughter of a storekeeper and a housewife did well enough to study business administration at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, even getting an A1 in history.

The oldest of three sisters later worked and saved to finance her way to a business degree at Australia's Curtin University.

Now, the 34-year-old considers herself to be doing well in her career as a trainer and is happily married to telecommunications consultant Jacky Koh, 36.

She was, by most accounts, a candidate who did not boast sterling credentials on paper - a fact she acknowledged on the campaign trail. The WP has many "very qualified" candidates, she said.

"But I personally feel that apart from paper qualifications, there are a lot of other things that we need to look into. When I vote, I want someone whom I can relate to because I don't want to go to Meet-the-People Sessions to find that the person I'm talking to cannot empathise with my situation."

Her experience working part-time to pay her school fees from age 15 helped immensely.

"It gave me a lot of exposure to people out there, the different types of people I meet. So that to me is my advantage."

Now, the hope is that she can be a model for women in Singapore politics, said WP chairman Sylvia Lim.

"As Li Lian has shown, women can fight alongside men and in addition contribute a fresh perspective and style. We are proud of Li Lian and we need more women in politics."






PM: PAP WILL PRESENT ITS REPORT CARD IN NEXT GE

"I called a by-election in Punggol East to fill the vacancy created when Mr Michael Palmer resigned as MP. I respect the choice of Punggol East voters. I congratulate Ms Lee Li Lian and the Workers' Party for winning this by-election.

The PAP fielded a good candidate: Dr Koh Poh Koon. He showed character and courage in contesting this election, and did the PAP proud. Clearly, many voters were impressed by Dr Koh's sincerity and commitment. But unfortunately there were not enough of them for him to win. I wish to thank all those who voted for Dr Koh and the PAP, and especially all our activists and volunteers who fought so hard in this campaign.

In a by-election, the governing party candidate always has a tougher fight. Voters see it as choosing an MP, not choosing a government, and opposition parties encourage them to do so.

The Government must continue to govern. Our plans and programmes are already in progress. But they are geared towards the longer term, and will take time to show results. The PAP will continue to work to improve the lives of Singaporeans, and present our report card for voters to judge in the next general elections.

I have spoken to Dr Koh, to thank him and his team for their hard work, and for fighting a spirited campaign. He is naturally disappointed, but in good heart. He is keen to continue serving in any role that the party decides. I intend to field him again in a future election, so that he can be part of my team to serve Singapore.

Now that the Punggol East by-election is over, we should re-focus on national issues. We have a heavy agenda coming up: The White Paper on Population will soon be debated in Parliament, and Budget 2013 is less than a month away. Let us come together as one people to do our best for Singapore."

PM LEE HSIEN LOONG, in a statement






PAP leaders expected contest to be difficult
Govt candidate has it tough as voters see by-election as one to pick MP, not govt: PM
By Rachel Chang, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

In the wake of its defeat in Punggol East, People's Action Party leaders yesterday said it was always going to be a difficult contest for the ruling party because of the "by-election effect".

The Government's candidate always has a tougher fight in a by-election because voters see the contest as one to choose an MP, not a government, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a statement last night.

Opposition parties, he added, encourage this line of thinking.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the loss was precipitated by the by-election effect, the circumstances that triggered the by-election - former Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer's resignation after admitting to an extramarital affair - and a host of unresolved local issues.

As an example, he pointed to the upgrading works at Rivervale Plaza, which stalled due to the contractor going bust, and apologised that the situation has been an "irritant" to residents.

Speaking at the PAP's Punggol East branch among a shocked and downcast activist corps, Mr Teo said "we always knew it was going to be difficult because this is a by-election".

"There were circumstances already as we came into this by-election. And of course there were local issues as well. So we knew it was going to be a difficult fight."

Both PM Lee and DPM Teo said they respected the voters' decision and congratulated Workers' Party candidate Lee Li Lian on her win.

PM Lee emphasised that the by-election would not be candidate Koh Poh Koon's first and only contest. Dr Koh said he is keen to continue serving "in any role the party decides", and PM Lee intends to field him again in a future election.

The Prime Minister made clear the PAP's national agenda will remain in place despite the electoral setback.

"The Government must continue to govern," he said, adding that the PAP's plans and programmes are geared towards the longer term, and will take time to show results.

"The PAP will continue to work to improve the lives of Singaporeans, and present our report card for voters to judge in the next general elections," he said.

The party leaders also sought to re-focus the national attention on the pressing issues facing the country.

There is a heavy agenda coming up, said PM Lee - The White Paper on Population will soon be debated in Parliament, while the 2013 Budget statement will be announced in less than a month.

"Let us come together as one people to do our best for Singapore," he concluded.

Asked if the by-election would have an effect on the PAP's national agenda, DPM Teo said it would not and that the Government will continue with its plans.

"There's a lot of hard work ahead because these are major programmes that we're putting into place," he noted.

In a parting shot to the voters of Punggol East, he said: "We are proud to have been able to serve them and we hope that they will be able to support us the next time round."




PM Lee plans to field Koh again
By Leonard Lim, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night that he intends to field the defeated PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon in future elections, and the colorectal surgeon too said he is keen to continue serving.

The father of two daughters told The Sunday Times in a text message: "I sleep well knowing I've not turned my back when my country calls but voters made their choice.

"Now back to a life more ordinary with my kids."

He remained cheerful when he left the PAP's Punggol East branch after midnight with his wife Jessica, smiling for the cameras.

And in a reflective Facebook note later, he said that he felt "a lifetime has gone by" since five weeks ago, when he was first approached to stand in the polls.

He wrote that he was "touched by the warmth of residents" and had witnessed the camaraderie and "infectious energy" of supporters, party activists and PAP MPs.

He said he had been strengthened by the moral and emotional support from his family. "All for a worthy cause. All for a better Singapore. Thank you everyone, for being a part of this memorable journey," he wrote.

Earlier, despite the wide margin of defeat - the PAP camp had thought all along it would be a close contest - he remained cheerful as he shook hands and posed for photographs with supporters after a press conference at the Punggol East party branch.

He had also spoken to PM Lee, who thanked him and his team for their hard work, and for fighting a spirited campaign.

In a statement last night, Mr Lee said of Dr Koh: "He is naturally disappointed, but in good heart.

"He is keen to continue serving in any role that the party decides. I intend to field him again in a future election, so that he can be part of my team to serve Singapore."

Calling Dr Koh a "good candidate", PM Lee said he showed character and courage in contesting this election, and "did the PAP proud".

The loss capped a momentous month for the 40-year-old. He had initially turned down PM Lee, saying he was not suitable. But he changed his mind after feeling he had turned his back on society.

On Jan 8, a day before the writ of election was issued, he appeared for the first time at a Punggol East grassroots event, sparking talk of an impending by-election.

The political greenhorn, who was born in the area, was formally introduced as the PAP candidate on Jan 10, and also described himself as a "son of Punggol".






SDA scores worst result in post-independence history
By Toh Yong Chuan & Joyce Lim, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

Mr Desmond Lim Bak Chuan has written himself into the history of the country by obtaining the worst score ever in elections since independence in 1965.

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) candidate obtained 0.6 per cent of the votes in the Punggol East by-election yesterday, ensuring an ignominious footnote in the archives.

He beat the previous record set by Mr Teo Kim Hoe who garnered just 0.8 per cent of votes in the 1984 General Election.

Mr Teo had contested in a three-cornered fight in Chua Chu Kang, under the banner of the now defunct United People's Front.

Mr Lim, who finished last in the four-cornered contest, scored only 168 votes last night.

He had managed 1,387 votes, or 4.45 per cent, when he contested in the Punggol East three-way fight during the 2011 General Election.

He lost his election deposit then and repeated the forfeit again last night, losing $14,500.

The 45-year-old engineer was joined by Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who obtained 353 votes yesterday, or 1.2 per cent. He also lost his deposit.

Visibly disappointed, Mr Lim told The Sunday Times: "I did my part towards democracy and I have to respect people's choice.

"I was well aware of the risks and challenges," added Mr Lim. "But it was something the SDA had to do to keep its political flame alive.

"The results have not dampened me, nor the SDA. It only means we will have to fight harder and work harder when the next contest comes."

Mr Jeyaretnam, 53, also said he had no regrets.

"It does not matter how many deposits we lost, it's about democracy," he said.

"We congratulate the Workers' Party on their victory here tonight and we commiserate with the losers, including the People's Action Party.

"We made this referendum on national issues and the debate on national issues will continue after the excitement over this result has died down."

Political observer Siew Kum Hong said the abysmal showing is a setback for both parties. "After this, I can't imagine any of the parties being able to attract any credible candidate," he said.


For democracy

"I did my part towards democracy and I have to respect people's choice. I was well aware of the risks and challenges. But it was something the SDA had to do to keep its political flame alive."
MR DESMOND LIM BAK CHUAN, candidate for the Singapore Democratic Alliance, who obtained 168 votes or 0.6 per cent


Debate goes on

"We made this referendum on national issues and the debate on national issues will continue after the excitement over this result has died down."
REFORM PARTY CHIEF KENNETH JEYARETNAM, who obtained 353 votes, or 1.2 per cent 








Analysts surprised by wide margin of WP's win
By Jessica Cheam, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

In the end, it was not the close fight that many had expected.

Analysts and political observers yesterday confessed to being stunned by the wide margin of victory that the Workers' Party (WP) scored in the Punggol East by-election, when it pulled ahead by 11 percentage points.

They credited the WP's handsome score to Singaporeans' desire for more political competition and the "by-election effect".

Singapore Management University (SMU) law lecturer Eugene Tan said this effect - referring to voters turning to the opposition knowing that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is already in power - has "accentuated over the years" as Singaporeans increasingly yearn for an alternative to the one-party dominant rule of the past decades.

"People want checks and balances and while WP is not ready to form a government, it is the closest we've had in a long while," he said.

WP's Ms Lee Li Lian won 54.5 per cent of the votes, compared with PAP's Dr Koh Poh Koon who received 43.7 per cent.

Political observers say that while they had not ruled out a WP victory, they were taken aback by the margin.

Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Gillian Koh said: "This battle was too close to call, hence the margin surprised me."

Political scientist Hussin Mutalib said he had expected a close call favouring the PAP given the four-cornered fight.

But Ms Lee's personality and perseverance - given that she had contested in the ward in the 2011 General Election - are key reasons for WP's good showing, say observers.

Punggol East's proximity to opposition stronghold Hougang would also have some spillover effect, and the profile of the ward's young, middle-class voters who value an opposition presence contributed to the strong victory.

Political scientist Reuben Wong said: "WP stuck to a clear, simple campaign message about keeping the PAP on its toes."

Former nominated MP Siew Kum Hong said the latest results - an improvement of Ms Lee's 41 per cent vote in 2011 - will be seen by WP as a "validation of the party".

Conversely, it could be read that voters "continue to be very unhappy with the PAP", he added.

"It is quite telling that when PM (Lee Hsien Loong) personally got involved in campaigning, something that he didn't do in Hougang, he wasn't able to change the outcome," he said, referring to last year's Hougang by-election where WP also won.

But others cautioned against reading it as a reflection of national sentiment. SMU's Mr Tan said the results of the by-election cannot simply be extrapolated across the whole nation.

"While ground sentiments are unsettled, and people can quibble about whether enough is done, most can see that things are being done," he said.

He admitted that the by-election results could "portend what may come" in future elections, however.

The younger, middle-class voter profile of Punggol East suggests that WP's messaging and voters' expectations on what it means to be a democracy are gaining traction.

"These are the voters that will increasingly matter," he said.

Mr Siew added: "The PAP has to ask itself whether it wants to continue to wait for the long-term policies - such as those on housing and transport - introduced after the general election to bear fruit, or to roll out more policies to address the voters' concerns."




Yearning for political plurality has not waned
By Lydia Lim, The Sunday Times, 27 Jan 2013

After the last General Election in 2011, political pundits noted that there was a powerful tide favouring more opposition voices in Parliament. It was this which swept away a heavyweight team fielded by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in Aljunied GRC.

So, ahead of the Punggol East by-election, the question that many were pondering was whether that tide had abated, or continued to gain force.

Judging by last night's strong showing by the Workers' Party (WP), the yearning for more political plurality in the House remains strong.

The WP garnered 54.5 per cent of valid votes cast, against the PAP's 43.7 per cent.

Its margin of victory this round was remarkably similar to that of its historic win in Aljunied GRC.

It was a surprisingly strong finish for the party in blue, in a race that many had expected to be close.

The swing in favour of the WP was significant - 13.5 percentage points. Its vote share shot up from 41 per cent in 2011 to 54.5 per cent last night.

Conversely the PAP's vote share fell from 54.5 per cent in 2011 to 43.7 per cent.

The other two opposition candidates in the four-cornered fight saw their combined vote share whittled to a mere 1.8 per cent.

The outcome overturns conventional wisdom that a multi-cornered fight favours the PAP as it splits the opposition vote.

The opposition vote in this case was not split, but solidly behind the WP, reinforcing its status as the most credible opposition player on the scene and one that swing voters are ready to put their trust in.

The swing that the WP enjoyed in this by-election is the largest since 1984, when Mr Chiam See Tong won for the first time in Potong Pasir on the back of a 19.4 percentage point gain in his favour.

What does a swing in the vote of this scale signal for politics in Singapore?

Clearly, the WP's message to residents of Punggol East to add to its ranks in Parliament to serve as a check on the PAP Government resonated with voters in this single-seat ward.

Some 16,038 of them gave their votes to Ms Lee Li Lian, who was contesting for the second time in Punggol East.

It would seem that a good number of Singaporeans still think the balance in Parliament remains tilted too much in favour of a dominant PAP. Even after this loss, the ruling party still has 80 of 87 elected seats in the House.

And the PAP Government finds it hard to push back against this tide, despite its best efforts to improve both its policies and politics.

In the last 18 months, it has worked to fix supply problems in both public housing and transport, two major sources of unhappiness at the 2011 polls.

In this by-election, it also refined its campaign strategy, banking on a combination of snap polls, a highly qualified candidate and calibrated support from PAP top guns, but to no avail.

It avoided the knuckle-duster campaign tactics that had riled some in the past, but also took pains to send a flurry of its top ranks and activists to pound the ground in Punggol East in an effort to pull in the vote. But Punggol East residents seemed unmoved.

It also unleashed a string of policy initiatives in the past week to address the concerns of young couples - seeking help to get bigger Housing Board flats or affordable childcare facilities - but this did not sway enough of the relatively young voters of Punggol East.

No doubt, there will be much soul searching among PAP leaders in the weeks ahead, as they try to figure out how best to respond to what the voters in Punggol East were signalling, and whether there are wider implications.

Giving an initial assessment of the PAP's loss in a statement soon after the results were announced last night, Prime Minister Hsien Loong was quick to stress that the ruling party is always at a disadvantage in a by-election.

"In a by-election, the governing party candidate always has a tougher fight. Voters see it as choosing an MP, not choosing a government, and opposition parties encourage them to do so," he said, pledging that his Government would press on with the business of governing and implementing its programmes for the good of the country.

Over at the WP press conference, party chairman Sylvia Lim countered that Punggol East shows the "value of political competition in getting the Government to sit up and take notice".

It is difficult to extrapolate from the results of one by-election as to what might be at the next General Election, due by 2016.

Singaporeans are far more likely to cast a vote for the ruling party then, to ensure a PAP government is returned to power.

Still, last night's win suggests the WP remains well placed to make further inroads into PAP-held constituencies, which the ruling party will be under pressure to defend.




Overseas votes for Punggol East by-election counted
By Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel NewsAsia, 30 Jan 2013

Results of the votes cast overseas for the Punggol East by-election on January 26 were counted on Wednesday at the counting centre at North Vista Secondary School.

Out of 59 eligible voters, 27 cast their ballots.

They bring the total number of votes cast in the by-election to 29,859, inclusive of 418 rejected votes. That is 94.34 per cent of the 31,649 registered electors in Punggol East constituency.

The Workers' Party's Lee Li Lian, who won the seat with 54.52 per cent of valid votes cast in Singapore, had seven overseas votes. With the seven votes added, her final vote share is 16,045 (54.50 per cent).

The People's Action Party's candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon, had 19 overseas votes. These pushed his original share of 43.71 per cent up slightly to 43.73 per cent, or 12,875 votes.

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party, who took 353 votes (1.2 per cent of the vote share) did not get any overseas votes. Neither did Mr Desmond Lim of the Singapore Democratic Alliance, who had 0.57 per cent of the vote share (168 votes).


Total number of votes cast: 29,859

Rejected votes: 418
WP's Lee Li Lian: 16,045 votes
PAP's Dr Koh Poh Koon: 12,875 votes
RP's Kenneth Jeyaretnam: 353 votes
SDA's Desmond Lim: 168



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