SINGAPORE – The People’s Action Party will have to examine what are the broader issues that caused a swing in votes against it at the general election, said Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin on Sunday (July 12).
He noted that the ruling party saw an overall swing against it across the board, including in his group representation constituency of Marine Parade.
The PAP garnered 61.24 per cent of the popular vote at the general election, and saw its vote share fall in every GRC and single seat that it contested compared to the 2015 election, with the exception of MacPherson and Mountbatten SMCs.
Mr Tan’s team defeated their Workers’ Party opponents with 57.76 of the votes, down from 64.07 per cent in 2015.
Asked if Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s retirement from politics was a factor, he replied that Mr Goh would have to step down at some point.
“It’s not one single factor, because if it’s one single factor then frankly, it wouldn’t affect other areas as well but there is an overall swing…So I say that there are broader issues rather than a specific issue per se,” he added in an interview with reporters after a walkabout in his constituency at Ubi Ave 1.
The PAP team led by Mr Tan also comprised incumbents Seah Kian Peng, 58 and Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong, 50, as well as new faces Mohd Fahmi Aliman, 47, and Tan See Leng, 55.
Mr Tan, 51, said the team will have to take stock and reflect on how things have unfolded, as well as analyse the different issues that concern different segments of the population.
On young voters, he said: “I think they would like to feel that their voices are heard more.”
He noted that there have been post-budget dialogues and focus groups to engage with young people.
“It’s not possible for every single person to be involved, but can we have more platforms? I think that can be done,” he said.
Mr Tan added that apps like Zoom, Instagram and Facebook are alternative platforms that allow him to engage with different groups of residents.
“Generally people, even (those) my age, will feel like we want to participate because unlike say, earlier generations, our education level is a lot higher. We’re a lot more aware of things. We would like to feel that we matter and we’re not just some anonymous entity,” he said.
Asked if he was disappointed with the election results, he said it “depends on how you want to look at it”.
He pointed to how there was unhappiness among the population at large during his first election, which saw the PAP return to power with its lowest-ever vote share of 60.1 per cent.
In 2015, the party scored a resounding win with 69.9 per cent of the votes – a result that has been attributed to factors such as the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and the feel-good effect from SG50 celebrations.
“That’s democracy, that’s the people’s choice. They have their reasons,” said Mr Tan .
“Some people come up to me and say ‘I support you, I like you, but (I am) not ready to give you the vote because I would like to have a choice. So there’s that element. And there will also be those that are not happy with how we have performed,” he added.
But whatever the result, MPs have a responsibility to serve their residents and care for them, he said.
The campaign to win hearts and minds doesn’t take place only during the nine days of hustings, he added.
“It has always been non stop. And that has to be so. And you do your best to find different ways to reach out, engage, win hearts and minds. (If you) didn’t do well in that, then you have to see how to improve.”
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