Sitoh Yih Pin retains Potong Pasir SMC by big margin
For the first time in three decades, neither Mr Chiam See Tong nor his wife Lina Chiam will be in Parliament.
Mrs Chiam failed in her second bid for the Potong Pasir single member constituency (SMC), which was synonymous with her husband..
People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Sitoh Yih Pin successfully defended the SMC with a convincing 66.41 per cent of the valid votes.
But even as the Chiams exit, Mr Sitoh said Mr Chiam’s 27-year legacy in Potong Pasir is intact and that he has always tried to maintain its charm and character.
This result was a stark difference from the 2011 General Election (GE), where just 114 votes — or 0.7per cent — separated Mr Sitoh and Mrs Chiam.
Mrs Chiam was then appointed a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) as one of the top losing opposition candidates, which stretched the Chiams’ presence in Parliament from 1984 to 2015.
After the result, Mrs Chiam said on the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) Facebook page that Mr Sitoh deserved to win and that she had congratulated him.
She added: “This is a time of great challenge for Singapore. I hope Singaporeans can work hand in hand with their elected MPs to help the government create better policies.
“I ran for Potong Pasir because I wanted to be the voice for Potong Pasir. I was the NCMP and I was proud to have spoken up fearlessly for the residents as well as for all Singaporeans.
“Nonetheless, the people have voted. I respect their decision. SPP will never give up Potong Pasir. It is too close to our hearts.”
Mr Sitoh said he was very humbled by the mandate that Potong Pasir residents have given him.
“I assure you that we will fulfil all the promises we made,” he said.
“I want to wish Mr and Mrs Chiam good health and happiness in their lives.”
Over the last 4½ years, Mr Sitoh introduced changes such as Medi-Assist, a scheme to help defray the costs of doctor visits and medication, as well as the Rose (Rice, Oil, Sugar and Essentials) programme, a food drive.
While Potong Pasir residents acknowledged that Mr Sitoh deserved to win, they did not expect the margin to be so large.
Resident Dillon Loi, 44, a real estate consultant, said he felt the feel-good factor of this jubilee year played its part.
He also felt the opposition lacked credibility.
Mr Muhd Syazwi, 19, a club waiter who has lived in Potong Pasir all his life, said: “What I know is that Potong Pasir residents support Mr Chiam See Tong, but not his wife. With the upgrades, residents are happy with Mr Sitoh and will continue to support him.”
Political analyst Professor James Chin, director of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, said the huge increase in PAP votes, including those who voted for Mr Sitoh, came from a strong PAP campaign, which was fronted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“You see posters of him everywhere in Singapore. It was like as if it was PM against the opposition. The PAP’s online campaign also went viral,” he said.