PAP's GE 2015 success: Call it the LHL landslide
The GE 2015 results, a turning point for PAP, are a testament to PM Lee Hsien Loong's mettle
Friday became another reason to remember 9/11.
For the opposition and their supporters, it will be remembered as a tragic rejection of their hopes, ideals and manifestos.
For one man, it was a turning point.
In a year of round-figure jubilation, of renewed sentiment for our founding father, Singapore voters returned, warmly, overwhelmingly, to the embrace of the People's Action Party (PAP).
It was a momentous reversal of a decade-long downward trend in the PAP's popularity.
But look beyond the numbers and you realise that it was, at heart, a thumping mandate for one man who put himself, his leadership and his reputation on the line.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's frontline fight was a perilous ploy.
The 63-year-old was in your face, front and centre, on lamp posts all over Singapore, on TV almost daily, on rally stages in opposition wards.
Lose more seats, and his leadership would have been in question.
He now affirms his legitimacy to lead - both the party and the country.
The result - 69.86 per cent for PAP - "exceeded expectations", said PM Lee yesterday.
With the big GE 2015 issue unequivocally settled, three questions become pertinent:
- What now, Workers' Party (WP)? Retreat, push on, or pout?
- How now, for hopes of alternative voices and fears that the PAP, bolstered by a vote of confidence, would be emboldened to do as it pleases, no matter how unpleasant?
- Why now? Was the swing a result of PAP's feel-good shift in social policies, new goodies and SG50?
Or sentiments stirred by the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew?
Or fears over town council management and an uncertain future?
Or a sense of security in retaining the status quo?
Now the sacred slips of the ballots have been tallied and the bookies, so cocksure, so misguided, so wrong, are left to count their losses and curse their calculators.
The swing in PAP's favour flies in the face of unprecedented turnouts at opposition rallies.
It comes at a time when online acrimonious chatter against the PAP was at its loudest - brash, bold and belligerent.
"The silent majority" is a phrase borne of irony. Popularised by disgraced US president Richard Nixon, the phrase began life in the 19th century as a reference to the dead.
On Friday, the silent majority in Singapore rose and, with the simple gesture of casting a ballot, roared in numbers too great to ignore.
In supposedly new-normal Singapore, voters opted for business-as-usual.
Looking back on the boisterous fervour of support at opposition rallies and, in the light of the yesterday's result, a Hokkien saying comes to mind: Ho kwa, boh ho chiak (looks good, tastes lousy).
Rallies as a measure of voter support? Rubbish.
Social Media as barometer of popular sentiment? Bah, humbug.
Then there was the emotional factor, which some among the opposition milked for all it's worth: Perceived past persecution by the PAP and the lopsided playing field.
Yet Mr Lee emerged triumphant.
A measure of a man lies in the demons he has had to tame, then overcome, in the past.
Consider what he has gone through: Two bouts of cancer, the death of his first wife early in his marriage, the loss of a GRC under his watch, the death of his dad less than six months ago.
Anyone who has ever experienced or known someone who has battled cancer would know the courage it takes to fight death, bounce back, and move forward.
Perhaps that explains his gamble in GE 2015. That behind that easy smile is steel forged in the furnace of physical trauma and emotional pain.
On Tuesday, PM Lee invoked his father's exact words (even mannerisms) at the UOB Plaza rally.
"Whoever governs Singapore," he said, "must have that iron in him."
By turning the tide on 9/11, PM Lee seems to have proven his mettle.
His father once famously remarked that, should there be a sense that Singapore was heading in the wrong direction, he would rise from his grave and set things right.
He can now rest, appeased.
So, too, can PM Lee proceed, thoroughly reassured.