Tough battle for WP in East Coast ends with resounding win for PAP
It was tipped to be the Workers’ Party’s (WP) strongest chance to add more MPs to its line-up in Parliament.
But the battle royal that many predicted fizzled out as the People’s Action Party (PAP) team — helmed by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say — retained East Coast with a resounding win.
The PAP got 60.73 per cent and WP 39.27 per cent of the votes in the four-member GRC.
Mr Lim, who described it as a tough battle, said: “We value the time we spent together in the last 4½ years and we look forward to spend even more time in the next five years.
“For those who did not vote for us, we are sorry that our best effort was not to up to your expectation, and we promise you we will improve and do better the next time round.”
The WP had fielded one of its strongest teams in the constituency, with some candidates boasting impressive credentials.
Mr Leon Perera heads an international consultancy and Dr Daniel Goh is a National University of Singapore sociologist.
Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, a former librarian, has a master degree in arts.
Leading the team was a relatively more experienced hand — former Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam Yean Song, 37.
“We have done our best and we will continue to fight on, to fight for Singaporeans and for a better fate for Singapore,” Mr Giam said.
In the two parties’ rallies in East Coast, the crowds at WP’s dwarfed those at their rival’s.
Introducing the East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC candidates in WP’s last rally on Wednesday (Sept 9), party chief Low Thia Khiang had said: “These candidates come from different backgrounds and are able to debate strongly in Parliament and enhance the party’s debating ability if they become MPs.”
Lawyer Dennis Tan, its candidate for Fengshan, which had been carved out of Aljunied, also lost to the PAP’s Cheryl Chan.
Several residents told The New Paper last night that they were less concerned about municipal matters than with national issues, including whether there was a need for more opposition voices in Parliament.
Eventually, it was the PAP that convinced voters to support it, said National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser.
“I believe it is the PAP brand and the personal popularity of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (that delivered). The PAP has a strong brand and a strong message,” he said.
During the hustings, there was some concern among PAP supporters that Mr Lim’s comments about Malaysia and China might have hurt their chances.
Mr Lim apologised for his “misconstrued” comments in the PAP’s rally on Wednesday (Sept 9).
Said Prof Tan: “I reckon it (Mr Lim’s comments) made a small dent, but not much.”
Both PAP and WP supporters were surprised by the PAP’s margin of victory as they had expected a close battle.
One PAP supporter, Miss Bernice Neo, 32, said: “People were happy with how the town council was run here but many were swayed by the call for an alternative.”
Another resident, Ms Josephine Ng, in her 40s, said: “At one point, I was worried because people were talking about WP winning in East Coast GRC.
“I am really happy with the result. This is a good thing and it shows that people are more confident with the PAP.”
Even after the sample count was announced at 10pm — PAP got 61 per cent to WP’s 39 per cent — WP supporters continued holding out hope at Hougang Stadium.
News of WP’s loss were met with muted resignation by its supporters.
Said Madam Julia Ong, 52, an East Coast resident: “I wanted WP to win because they had provided an alternative voice for us. It was a voice, not noise. It’s disappointing.”
Account director Lim Wei Guang, 31, added: “Looking forward, I hope to see WP working the ground more and be more involved to show their sincerity to serve the people.
“We expect PAP to keep up the good work and improve the residents’ lives as well as continue to be more engaging with the residents. Give us a reason that they deserve our vote.”