Outside the Counting Centre – A Long Evening Before News of Decisive Win for Workers’ Party

By Sharon Ng

Photo Credit - Howard Lee
Photo Credit – Howard Lee

From 5pm yesterday evening the space outside North Vista Secondary School counting centre was abuzz with journalists, photographers and camera persons from the media. There was also an anxious crowd building up, as they wondered who they might see going in and out of the counting centre.

Many saw the contest as a  two-horse race between the People’s Action Party and the Workers’ Party.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate  was seen coming out of the North Vista Secondary School counting centre at about 9:30pm. He was all smiles with no comment. He quickly boarded a car to visit the other counting centre at Rivervale Primary School.

Singapore Democractic Alliance’s Mr Desmond Lim came out of the counting centre  at about 9:45pm to thank his supporters.  “It has been a fast but hard race to the end. Entering this contest, I was well aware of the risks and challenges. But it was something the SDA (Singapore Democratic Alliance) had to do to keep its political flame alive,” He said.  He said that the results had not dampened his spirit and that SDA would fight harder and work harder at the next contest.

By this time, the crowd size had grown much bigger to about 100 people on both sides of the pavement.

At about 10:15pm, WP’s MsLee Li Lian visited North Vista counting centre. Segments of the crowd chanted “Workers’ Party”, as the car eased its way carefully through the media mob into the restricted area behind the school gates. The crowd awaited anxiously, pockets of supporters started sporadic chants of ”Workers’ Party “.

At around 10:15pm, the media crew started to get a little restless. There was talk that the PAP wanted a recount because the margin was only 300 votes. Twitter feeds started to declare WP the winner of the by-elections, as cameras started to zoom in at any person coming out of the foyer.

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, accompanied by Reform Party (RP) Chairman Andy Zhu, came out of the counting centre at about 10:30pm. He first congratulated WP for their victory tonight and commiserated the losers, including the PAP and the RP.  He said that the RP made this a referendum on national issues that will continue after the by-elections.

Soon after, news of the detailed vote share of each candidate broke. WP’s candidate Lee Lilian had won the elections with a vote share of 53.76 per cent, while PAP candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon came in second at 43.09 per cent.

Chants of Workers’ Party were loud throughout the counting centre, as the final batch of civil servants boarded the chartered buses to return home after a hard day’s work.