On 6 May 2006, Singaporeans went to the polls to vote a new government. The results? The People’s Action Party was returned to power by a majority of 66.6 per cent of the vote. 1.2 million Singaporeans cast their vote on that day.
The opposition parties together fielded a total of 47 candidates, denying the PAP a victory on Nomination Day. However, 7 GRCs were uncontested by the opposition, leaving the PAP to win 37 seats on Nomination Day itself, out of the 84, by walkovers.
The best-scoring opposition party was the Workers’ Party, which garnered 13.3 per cent of the popular vote. Its secretary-general, Mr Low Thia Khiang, retained his seat in Hougang with an increased vote count of 62.74 per cent, from 54.98 per cent in 2001. Its Chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim, contesting the elections for the first time, became the party’s Non-Constituency Member of Parliament when her team in Aljunied GRC emerged as highest-scorers among those who lost.
The Singapore Democratic Alliance’s Mr Chiam See Tong also won in Potong Pasir, surprising many who had expected him to be defeated. Instead, Mr Chiam’s votes increased from 52.43 per cent in 2001 to 55.82 per cent in 2006.
Mr Lee Hsien Loong and his PAP team in Ang Mo Kio GRC garnered 66.14 per cent of the vote, which was below the national average of 66.6 per cent. The GRC was uncontested in 2001.
More than three years have passed since General Elections 2006 and speculation is starting to emerge about when the next elections will be called. Many now expect it to be held within the next one year.
Many things have happened since then – S’pore saw record unemployment in 2008 and record inflation, and the increase in our population to 4.84 million, with 1.68 of these being foreigners. Number One terrorist suspect Mas Selamat escaped from the Whitley Road detention centre in 2008, and Temasek Holdings and The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) have lost more than $100 billion in investments. The 14 PAP town councils too have lost millions investing in toxic financial products.
On the opposition front, a new party was created. The Reform Party, founded by the late Mr JB Jeyaretnam, seeks to reform Singapore, as its name suggests. Now helmed by Mr Jeyaretnam’s son, Kenneth, the party will celebrate its first anniversary on 25 September.
The Singapore Democratic Party continues to challenge the ruling party in ways bolder than other opposition parties, in the process entangling itself in several lawsuits and its senior members made bankrupt.
The SDA, National Solidarity Party and the Workers’ Party seem to prefer to keep their heads below the firing line of the ruling party and not much has been seen from them. The Workers’ Party, for example, has held only one public forum since 2006, excluding those organized by its Youth Wing, which seems more active than the main party.
And more recently, the PKMS, a component party of the SDA, was in the news when its members resorted to violence over internal party disputes.
How Singaporeans vote in the next elections will be keenly watched, perhaps more so this time than in 2006. The PAP will have to deal with a new party, The Reform Party, which for all appearances, seems to have learned from the experiences of other parties’ mistakes in the past. How will the son of Mr Jeyaretnam fare in the hustings? The PAP may also have to contend with Mr Tan Kin Lian, who may contest the next general elections although he was reported to have declared his willingness to contest the Presidential elections instead.
Will Singaporeans be miffed with the Workers’ Party silence since 2006, when they received much support? Will the SDP improve on its 2006 results of just a mere 4 per cent of the popular vote, in the process losing all 7 seats it contested?
And will Mr Chiam really lead a GRC team and come out of his beloved Potong Pasir ?
Perhaps all these will not matter. The crucial question is whether Singaporeans are happy with how the ruling party has governed Singapore since 2006.
Will Mr Lee Hsien Loong improve on his performance next time round? Falling below the national average is a little embarrassing for the man who is suppose to lead his party – and Singapore.
And what about Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who celebrated his 86th birthday on 16 September? Will he contest the elections? How will he do? Will Singaporeans give MM Lee the mandate to remain in Parliament till he is 90 years old?
Finally, will New Media have any impact or influence on voters this time round?
What are your views on the next general elections?
Visit the Singapore Elections website for archive of election results.