Singapore

Poll: Hard issues like political and economic stability won voters over

Hard choices like political and economic issues, and estate management won us over, say voters

Give me stability and give me PAP.

No "or", no "if", no "but".

Political stability, it seems, was key to the overwhelming swing of votes in favour of the People's Action Party (PAP), reversing the trend in 2011.

It was the No. 1 factor cited by most of the 150 voters The New Paper on Sunday polled from key swing constituencies.

If the swing caught the opposition off guard, the reason might come as a surprise.

In a doorstop interview before the Aljunied team from the Workers' Party (WP) began their Thank-you Parade, MP-elect Sylvia Lim told reporters: "I think everyone was surprised at the swing towards the PAP...

"Perhaps some people were concerned because all 89 seats were contested and there is a perception that the opposition movement is growing strong.

"There could be a push back because of that because the people still feel comfortable with the PAP as a government. That could be one reason.

"Second, probably people are less upset with the PAP this time than in 2011 because of the changes that they have made.

"Some people say that perhaps it could be because of the feel-good factor from SG50 or the memory of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew."

She is only partially right, going by TNPS' random poll of 150 mostly young voters in the four constituencies where the swings were most significant.

Some residents were concerned about things like the cleanliness of their estates, while others were thinking of the management of the economy.

Mr Lee's death in March was also a factor.

ALJUNIED GRC

Miss Alexandra Toh, 30, who is self-employed, attributes the swing to "the economic situation".

"It's not necessarily because (voters) love (the PAP's) policies completely but they would rather vote in the devil they know than the devil they don't."

Mr Chua, 27, an undergraduate, said: "The young locals are more highly educated now. We learn economics and we all have, at least, some sense of how it works.

"We are not the kind of crowd that is swayed by 'minimum wage' and 'more free healthcare provisions' because the younger generation know that these perks, if implemented, need to be funded somehow.

"If it's not by increasing the tax burden of Singaporeans, then how will it be funded?

"While these goals are music to the ears, the WP missed out in explaining how they would go about doing it, especially if they say they want to fight for (a) lower goods and services tax.

"I guess that is where they lost a lot of the votes."

Some, like marketing executive Miss Chong, 25, who declined to give her full name, felt issues such as welfare and the management of town councils were a factor.

"Perhaps residents like myself don't see improvement and thus, the movement towards getting someone else to take over. That seems like the direction of voters even though WP still won Aljunied."

Mr Wilson Ang, 44, a lecturer, added: "Perhaps the slim margin (win) can be attributed to the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) saga. People are associating (the WP) with it now.

"Maybe what they need are new faces in the team."

Civil engineer Xesman Tan, 25, felt "political stability" was the biggest reason for him.

Mrs Nora Ang, 40, a lecturer, believes that the results in Aljunied GRC were not that different compared to other areas.

She said: "I felt that this year's election had little to do with municipal issues but rather, national issues.

"The general sense is that the PAP had done sufficiently well. Aljunied residents would have felt the same as Singaporeans."

EAST COAST GRC

Civil servant David Tan, 33, said: "Goodies like the Pioneer Generation Package, and the policy changes and improvements (transport and building infrastructure to cope with growing population) that have been taking place after GE 2011 could also have convinced voters to go for the PAP.

"There is also the fear factor that if people don't give the (ruling party) a strong mandate, then who can steer Singapore through the political and economic uncertainty ahead?

"The quality of the opposition parties is also under scrutiny. Perhaps people lumped the opposition parties together and didn't have much confidence in the opposition parties that they saw."

Mr Sofian Sidik, 40, who is unemployed, said: "PAP had put (out) their track record of the past 50 years for people to see. This election (is happening) as we celebrate SG50, so people likely voted for the team that could get them a good - if not (a) better - SG100.

"There is also the National Day Rally where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about Mr Lee Kuan Yew being asked whether there would be a Singapore 50 years from now.

"Mr Lee's response: 'Of course there will be... even better!' resonated with voters. That feel-good factor, plus Mr Lee's death and the Pioneer Generation Package, combined to give PAP a large victory."

Ms Joni Seah, 21, a lab technician, had doubts about the opposition's alternative policies, saying they were "not as specific compared to what the PAP was able to offer during the rallies".

She added: "Substance is important. When people attend rallies, they can compare (what each side is offering) and decide for themselves which one they prefer."

HOUGANG SMC

Mr M. Raj, 29, a despatch rider who is married with two sons, said: "The PAP government had promised my parents a good, comfortable life for their sons (his brothers and him).

"I want them to stay and lead the country so they can make the same promise to my two sons."

Mr Alvin Liu, 29, a salesman who is married with no children, said he was moved by Mr Lee's death.

"It was when Mr Lee died that we, the younger generation, learnt all that he had done for us, and how he himself lived simply.

"I believe that was what led to a swing vote for the ruling party."

Madam Laura Pan, 30, a secretary who is divorced with one daughter, said: "I want the economic stability provided for by the ruling party but I am still not happy with its policies that are not in favour of single mothers.

"I guess we can't have our cake and eat it."

PUNGGOL EAST SMC

Estate management was a big factor at Punggol East. Mr Allan Sim, 30, an air traffic controller, said: "Some voters want to give a swing to see what the difference will be in living amenities.

"You see only one auntie cleaning the block (here). I am not sure if it was because there was not enough manpower or the people here are just plain dirty."

Mr Andy Ng, 53, civil servant: "After 2½ years, we have had enough... I have been calling to complain about the dirty carpark and water taps left running. They were slow to act on my complaints.

"This place is less than 20 years old but it is very run down. We are upset, but not because of national policies. In the end, it is who we want to vote in to represent us in the constituency."

Madam David Sheila, 50, a nurse, said: "Workers' Party was not up to our expectations. The rubbish bins were not cleared daily as there is not enough manpower.

"We spoke to the cleaner personally, and we found out that one cleaner manages several blocks. Previously, we saw a cleaner daily or every other day. But now we hardly see them.

"We pity the cleaners because they find it hard to cope. It is beyond them."

Mr Neduchezian Suppiah, 52, who runs a newspaper agency and a drinks stall, said: "Rubbish in front of the chute was left there for one to two days and it was very smelly. Instead of throwing the rubbish down the chute, some residents left it beside the chute.

"I also need political stability for my children's generation."

A housewife in her 50s who wished to be known only as Mrs Tham, was also unhappy about the upkeep in the area.

She said: "Our parks are dirty. You can see rubbish. And dried leaves are not cleared. Previously, it wasn't like this.

"I just hope that it is not like this after PAP takes over. We gave WP a chance but it didn't deliver."


"The obvious thing to do is focus on what we've always focused on and that's to ensure the residents interests are looked after. The mission of WP in Aljunied doesn't change."
 MP-elect (Aljunied GRC) Pritam Singh

"We'll keep looking at what residents need and want and how can we bring government policies to them and how we can bring their views to the Government."
— Anchor minister and MP-elect (East Coast GRC) Lim Swee Sayon his team's strategy when it comes to the opposition

What was on voters' minds?

The New Paper on Sunday polled 150 people in Aljunied GRC, East Coast GRC, Hougang SMC and Punggol East SMC and asked them to pick five reasons (out of 10 choices) why there was a strong swing in votes to the People's Action Party. 
This is what they chose:

Singapore ElectionspollsUncategorisedpoliticsEconomy