WP's 'A' Team squeaks narrow win
Workers’ Party’s “A Team” in Aljunied GRC was up against relatively unknown People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates, but managed to win by just 1.9 percentage points.
The WP team was made up of Mr Low Thia Khiang, Miss Sylvia Lim, Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Chen Show Mao and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap.
The PAP team had only one former MP — Mr Yeo Guat Kwang.
The battle was so close that even with the sample count, released at about 10pm, the WP team was ahead with just 52 per cent of the valid vote.
WP had won 54.72 per cent of the valid votes in 2011.
But by 1am today, the WP’s lead narrowed to under 2,000 votes. It was so close, word spread that there would be a recount.
There was no relief on the faces of the WP candidates who had gathered at Hougang Stadium.
The final results came in just after 3am, with WP narrowly retaining Aljunied.
The management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council (AHPETC) became the central issue in the ward, with both PAP and WP crossing swords repeatedly.
Aljunied was not the only one that got hurt.
Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan said: “I would say that in WP-PAP match-ups, AHPETC probably had a big role because you see the WP losing ground even in their Hougang stronghold.
“Hougang’s been a staunch WP ground and the fact that it suffered a 4 per cent dip (from the 2012 by-election)... AHPETC must have contributed to it.”
Having tasted PAP-run town councils previously, Associate Professor Tan said voters may have felt it made sense to go back to PAP because of the unresolved AHPETC issues.
“Even in Aljunied, because the residents have spent only four years with the opposition town council, the loyalties are not as strong as in Hougang,” he said.
“When you look at the swing, it was least in Hougang, but quite consistent in Punggol East and Aljunied.”
Prof Tan said that undecided voters were influenced by other factors.
“Given the economic uncertainty, regional insecurities, the feel good of SG50, the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the fact that PAP did try to address some issues over the last four years, I would say that that made people think that now is perhaps not the time to experiment, no matter how tantalising or appealing the idea of a more vibrant democracy is.”
What of the crowded rallies and support on social media?
Inflated, said Prof Tan. But he also said WP did not do that badly either.
“I suppose it’s the gap between expectations and reality that may make WP seem like it didn’t perform well,” said Prof Tan.
“On social media and at rallies, it seemed that WP would do well this time round. WP hasn’t done too badly. The mood fitted it to a tee in 2011.
“This time, the mood suited the PAP.”
At Hougang Stadium, Mr Low spoke to the media after thanking supporters.
“Even with the massive swing, I think the WP did pretty well. I’m satisfied with the performance,” he said.
“I congratulate the PAP for having a strong mandate to continue the fourth-generation leadership.
“What I want to remind the PAP is this: It’s important to build trust between the people and national institutions (like civil service, judiciary and the media).
“It will be a shame if any party politicises such institutions for political advantage.”