SPP candidate Ravi Philemon (image - Ravi's Facebook page)

Battle for Hong Kah North SMC – A lesson to be learnt on Polling Day

SPP candidate Ravi Philemon (image - Ravi's Facebook page)
SPP candidate Ravi Philemon (image – Ravi’s Facebook page)

By GS

The best performing result in General Elections 2011, at 70.6% of the vote share (i.e. 18,149 votes out of 25,702), Hong Kah North’s 28,131 constituents seem to be strongly on the side of the current Member of Parliament, Dr Amy Khor, of the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Singapore People’s Party (SPP) candidate, Mr Ravi Philemon, is currently challenging Dr Khor for the privilege of being custodian of the constituency in the next parliament and has embarked on a prolonged campaign, appearing at all the party’s rallies, ensuring that media platforms are aware of his activities, and engaging his supporters on social media.

Dr Khor, meanwhile, has not been as active and will be appearing at her first election rally tonight, on the second-last day of campaigning. Photos on her Facebook page suggests walkabouts around coffeeshops and MRT stations to hand out tissue paper packets, as well as house visits. This can be contrasted against her colleagues who have been seen on bicycles, buses, on the streets and physically running from door to door to canvas for electoral support.

Calm campaign under the radar

PAP candidate Amy Khor (image - Amy's Facebook page)
PAP candidate Amy Khor (image – Amy’s Facebook page)

Perhaps Dr Khor is confident that her work on the ground these past four years will speak for itself and there is no need to further elaborate to the constituents who would have witnessed or experienced her service to the people firsthand. Notwithstanding, election campaign periods are highly emotive for both the politicians as well as the electorate and it is in the best interests of the representative and the constituents to reaffirm their relationship and commitment to each other.

One conspiracy theory is that Dr Khor probably wants to end her tenure after this election, and with such a high margin of victory the last round, the worst case scenario for her in GE2015 would be to scrape through a win. Based on this theory, there is thus no impetus to fight the election hard but instead just ride out these ten days and then continue another stretch as the elected representative of Hong Kah North SMC.

Miscalculation?

But the truth could be that her team is experiencing a false sense of security at her overwhelming victory in GE2011, believing the result reflects the popular vote – that she is so highly liked that the opposition candidate could only sway 30% of the voters despite his best efforts. But the candidate who challenged her in GE2011 was Mr Sin Kek Tong (from SPP as well) who does not seem to have done much campaigning at all – among other things, just 35 likes on his Facebook page in spite of GE2011 being considered to have been rather social-media-intensive.

Thus, taking the perspective that Mr Sin was nothing more than an opposition candidate for the sake of it then, it would be rather alarming to consider that the mere fact of an alternative eroded 30% of Dr Khor’s popularity ratings.

It remains to be seen if the strategy employed by Dr Khor is borne out of an astute understanding of the ground sentiment or a gross underestimation of the challenger’s threat. If she can pull off another impressive win as she did in GE2011, then her colleagues in PAP should use her methodology (in terms of municipal administration in Hong Kah North as well as her election campaign) as a case study on which to base their own approach in addressing their respective constituencies.

But if she fares badly, then it should serve to underscore the importance of actively campaigning to the electorate during the campaign period and not leave one’s track record to speak for itself.