SINGAPORE – The coming general election on Sept 11 is likely to be the first since 1963 to see the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) challenged in all the seats.
Nine opposition parties have indicated that they will contest all 13 single-member constituencies (SMCs) and 16 group representation constituencies (GRCs). There are a total of 89 seats.
In the last general election in 2011, all but one constituency – Tanjong Pagar GRC – was contested. It was also the election where the PAP won with its lowest vote share – 60.1 per cent – since independence in 1965.
As the race heats up for Singapore’s 12th election since independence, we look back at the last five elections to see how the various parties fared.
MAY 7, 2011 GE
Total no. of seats: 87
No. of wards/seats contested: 82
12 of 12 SMCs (12 seats)
14 of 15 GRCs (70 seats)
Walkover in one GRC (Tanjong Pagar, five seats)
- Aljunied GRC: The first GRC to be won by an opposition party since the GRC scheme was introduced in 1988
- A PAP team made up of then Foreign Minister George Yeo, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Hwee Hua, Senior Minister of State Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Ms Cynthia Phua and newcomer Ong Ye Kung was defeated by WP’s “A” team comprising secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, party chairman Sylvia Lim, Mr Chen Show Mao, Mr Pritam Singh and Mr Faisal Abdul Manap. The WP team won with 54.7 per cent of the vote.
- Hougang SMC: Mr Low, the WP chief, left his Hougang ward to protege Yaw Shin Leong who defended it successfully against PAP’s Desmond Choo. WP won with 64.8 per cent. Mr Yaw later vacated the seat, and the WP won it again in a by-election in 2012.
- Potong Pasir SMC: Close fight which was won by PAP’s Sitoh Yih Pin by a wafer-thin margin of 114 votes – after 27 years under Mr Chiam See Tong. Mr Chiam went over to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, leaving his wife Lina to fight in Potong Pasir. Mr Chiam’s team lost to PAP in Bishan-Toa Payoh.
- Joo Chiat SMC: Close contest between PAP’s Mr Charles Chong and WP’s Mr Yee Jenn Jong. Mr Chong won with 51 per cent – or a margin of 388 votes.
- East Coast GRC: Led by then Transport Minister Raymond Lim and then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say, the PAP team won with 54.8 per cent against a WP team that included Mr Gerald Giam, who later became a Non-constituency MP.
- Hong Kah North SMC: Won by PAP’s Dr Amy Khor with 70.6 per cent against Mr Sin Kek Tong of the SPP.
- Potong Pasir SMC: Won by PAP’s Mr Sitoh Yih Pin with 50.4 per cent against SPP’s Mrs Lina Chiam.
- Voters were unhappy about the cost of living and a sharp increase in house prices
- Overcrowding on public transport was also a bugbear
- The hospital bed crunch, transport woes and stagnating wages were blamed on a large influx of foreign workers due to a liberal immigration policy
- The WP’s theme of a First World Parliament resonated with residents in Aljunied
MAY 6, 2006 GE
Total no. of seats: 84
No. of wards/seats contested: 47
Nine of nine SMCs (nine seats)
Seven of 14 GRCs (38 seats)
Walkovers in seven GRCs (37 seats)
- Bukit Panjang SMC: Won by PAP’s Dr Teo Ho Pin with 77.2 per cent against SDP’s Mr Ling How Doong
- Potong Pasir SMC: Won by SDA’s Mr Chiam See Tong with 55.8 per cent against PAP’s Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, or a margin of just 1,718 votes.
- Aljunied GRC: The PAP team led by then Minister George Yeo beat the WP team headed by chairman Sylvia Lim with 56.1 per cent of the vote, the narrowest winning margin for a GRC. This was a difference of 16,250 votes.
- Potong Pasir SMC: There was some doubt as to whether Mr Chiam See Tong could retain his seat, as he held on to it with just 52.4 per cent of the vote in 2001. In 2006, he won with 55.8 per cent of the vote.
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sought a mandate from the people as this was his first election as PM
- Upgrading of HDB estates, particularly in opposition wards
- Means testing for medical subsidies
- Rising cost of living
NOV 3, 2001 GE
Total no. of seats: 84
No. of wards/seats contested: 29
Nine out of nine SMCs (nine seats)
Four out of 14 GRCs (20 seats)
Walkovers in 10 GRCs (55 seats)
- Ayer Rajah SMC: Won by PAP’s Dr Tan Cheng Bock with 88 per cent against DPP’s Mr Tan Lead Shake
- Potong Pasir SMC: Won by SDA’s Mr Chiam See Tong with 52.4 per cent against PAP’s Mr Sitoh Yih Pin
- SDA chief Chiam See Tong almost lost his Potong Pasir seat to newcomer, PAP’s Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, as the electorate voted overwhelmingly for the ruling party
- Voters were said to be voting for safety and security as a recession and security concerns after the Sept 11 attacks in the United States hung over the nation
- These concerns outweighed the opposition parties’ appeals for greater opposition representation
JAN 2, 1997 GE
Total no. of seats: 83
No. of wards/seats contested: 36
Nine out of nine SMCs (nine seats)
Six out of 15 GRCs (27 seats)
Walkovers in nine GRCS (47 seats)
- Kampong Glam SMC: Won by PAP’s Mr Loh Meng See with 74.5 per cent against DPP’s Mr Tan Lead Shake
- Cheng San GRC: Won by PAP’s team of then Minister Lee Yock Suan, Dr Michael Lim, Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed and Mr Heng Chiang Meng with 54.8 per cent. They beat WP’s Mr J.B. Jeyaretnam, Mr Tang Liang Hong, Dr Tan Bin Seng, Mr Abdul Rahim Osman and Mr Hwang Seow Kwang.
- Cheng San GRC: PM Goh Chok Tong joined the hustings in the ward against the team led by then WP chief J.B. Jeyaretnam. The PAP accused WP candidate Tang Liang Hong of being a Chinese chauvinist and promised residents massive upgrading and infrastructure projects, while the WP argued for more opposition presence in Parliament.
- It was hotly debated whether the upgrading of HDB estates should be linked to which party voters opted for. The PAP asked voters to choose between its package of programmes, which included upgrading, and the opposition’s promises of more rights and alternative voices in Parliament.
- The opposition accused the PAP of “vote buying” and argued that upgrading should not just be for wards with PAP MPs
- Major development plans for various wards including Punggol, Aljunied, Cheng San and Jurong were unveiled by the PAP
- The opposition raised the issues of the rising cost of living and high ministerial pay
AUG 31, 1991 GE
Total no. of seats: 81
No. of wards/seats contested: 40
20 of 21 SMCs (20 seats)
Five of 15 GRCs (20 seats)
Walkovers in 10 GRCS and one SMC (41 seats)
- Buona Vista SMC: Won by PAP’s Mr Peter Sung with 79.4 per cent against PKMS’s Mr Abdul Karim Sattar
- Nee Soon Central SMC: Won by SDP’s Mr Cheo Chai Chen with 50.3 per cent against PAP’s Mr Ng Pock Too, or a mere 168 votes.
- Eunos GRC: Won by PAP team of Mr Chew Heng Ching, Mr Charles Chong, Mr Sidek Saniff and Dr Tay Eng Soon with 52.4 per cent of the vote against WP’s Dr Lee Siew Choh, Mr Mohamed Jufrie Mahmood, Mr Neo Choon Aik and Mr Wee Han Kim.
- There were close fights in most of the SMCs contested by the SDP. The opposition party won three seats: Potong Pasir, Nee Soon Central and Bukit Gombak. It was SDP’s best performance in a general election.
- Potong Pasir SMC: Mr Chiam See Tong, who led SDP, won with 69.6 per cent of the vote against PAP’s Mr Andy Gan.
- Hougang SMC: Won by WP’s Mr Low Thia Khiang with 52.8 per cent against PAP’s Mr Tang Guan Seng. It was WP’s first Hougang win.
- Calling an early election, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was seeking a mandate for a more open and consultative style of government. It was his first general election as PM, and he said he was the issue in the election.
- Opposition parties argued for having more alternative voices in Parliament to check the Government.
- All the opposition parties agreed to contest just under half of the seats so that citizens could vote for the opposition candidates without fear of unseating the ruling PAP, in what was dubbed the “by-election effect”. It was engineered by Mr Chiam. A public disagreement between Mr Chiam and SDP’s central executive committee saw its popularity plummet after this election.
- The PAP warned against a return to communal politics. WP’s Eunos candidate Mohamed Jufrie Mahmood was accused of being a Malay chauvinist after he made comments about the role of the Malay community in an election rally.
- High cost of living and widening income gap.
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