But which ground to work?

With its electoral victory in Aljunied group representation constituency and a landslide in Hougang single-member constituency, the Workers’ Party is likely to get a fresh surge of new members, volunteers and donations. It is putting some good distance between itself and other opposition parties.

By the next general election, the party may look to contesting even more seats.

Yet, if other parties are serious about improving their vote-shares the next time around, they have to invest effort in groundwork as soon as possible, for this is perhaps the biggest factor in electoral success. Wouldn’t this mean incipient conflict as parties work the same ground?

Of course it won’t matter if opposition parties aren’t afraid of three-cornered fights. The fact, however, is that the weaker opposition parties will want to avoid this, especially after seeing Desmond Lim of the Singapore Democratic Alliance humiliated in 2011’s only three-cornered contest in Punggol East single-member constituency (SMC).  He got just 1,386 votes (4.5 percent of the valid votes cast), one-ninth the number that Lee Li Lian of the Workers’ Party got. He also forfeited his election deposit of  S$16,000.

Another question that complicates matters is the near-certainty that electoral boundaries will be redrawn before the next general election. SMCs can disappear overnight, absorbed into neighbouring group representation constituencies. In 2011, MacPherson SMC and Yio Chu Kang SMC, for example, vanished off the map. Even group representation constituencies (GRC), e.g. Jalan Besar GRC, can disappear.

These huge uncertainties make it hard for parties to invest time and energy in groundwork. There is a tendency to wait until the new electoral boundaries are known, then haggle among themselves for a carve-up before getting to work. By then, it is way too late.

What if the negotiations are protracted? This election, for example, the various parties could not reach a comprehensive agreement at all. Going forward, as the Workers’ Party grows, it will be less and less inclined to even negotiate with the others. When it has strength, and has worked a particular area for years, the party will see no reason to quit an area just because another party wants it.

Too many parties

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I think there are too many opposition parties in Singapore. I cannot see the smaller ones, centred around one or two personalities, as viable in the longer term. Realistically, there’s space for just three opposition parties — these being the Workers’ Party, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Solidarity Party (NSP)

They also have the benefit of differentiation (well, at least two-and-a-half of them). The Workers’ Party is increasingly a centrist party but still Chinese-flavoured. The SDP has nearly as strong a branding, but its relative radicalism (by Singapore’s meek standards) on human rights, social policy and more recently, economic policy, earns it strong likes and dislikes.

NSP’s chief strength seems to be its openness to all sorts of comers and all sorts of ideas. It has quite a respectable base of volunteers, but it really needs to get its act together in terms of ideology, disciplined messaging and a better understanding of the electorate.  Right now, it is suffering the pain of transition from being a party for and by Chinese towkays (businessman), more comfortable in Mandarin and dialect, to a younger, more modern, English-speaking party with room for ethnic minorities.

I will leave out the rest for now because their sustainability is unproven (Reform Party, Socialist Front) or because they don’t actually stand for anything (Singapore Democratic Alliance, Singapore People’s Party).

The three-party carve-up and which ground to work

This was the electoral map for the general election of 2011:

I see trouble ahead. I see the Workers’ Party muscling into adjacent areas that the NSP claims by virtue of its unsuccessful contests in 2011.

The Workers’ Party has worked out a very clever strategy which other parties would do well to emulate. They work the ground across a contiguous part of Singapore island. Contiguity provides the following benefits:

  • Better sharing of resources because areas are close by
  • Less affected by electoral boundary shifts. So what if a boundary shifts from one GRC to another when the party has worked the ground in both? So what if an SMC is absorbed into a GRC when the party has covered both intensively?
  • Spillover effect at election time when a party enthuses the voters in one constituency
  • Synergy among town councils in the same area should the party win the constituencies.

I see the SDP beginning to do the same by choosing to contest the recent election in three contiguous constituencies: Sembawang GRC, Bukit Panjang SMC and Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

In a three-party scheme, the NSP will have to consider doing a “long march” to get out of Workers’ Party’s way in the eastern half of Singapore and concentrate in the western parts. If they do that, then the five-year plan for working the ground by the three leading parties will look something like this:

As you can see, conflict is minimised with the Workers’ Party free to cover the eastern and northeastern regions, plus the Thomson corridor up to Yishun.

The SDP gets to cover the Bukit Timah corridor all the way to Woodlands. But it also begins to focus on Holland Village, Queenstown, River Valley Road and Tiong Bahru (all currently part of Tanjong Pagar GRC). These are areas either already with yuppies and the upper middle class, or increasingly so as the older estates are gentrified. This demographic suits the SDP best.

The NSP is better off with heartlanders. The orange-coloured area thus includes Telok Blangah, Redhill, Clementi, Boon Lay, Jurong West, Bukit Batok, and Choa Chu Kang — again, a contiguous stretch arcing around the south and west of the island.

Jurong East is a toss-up between NSP and SDP. Parts of it are as “heartland” as can be, but adjacent parts like the Toh Tuck area are chockful of private condominiums. In any case, the SDP will still need to sell itself to heartlanders if it is to work successfully in Woodlands, Bukit Panjang, Ghim Moh, adjacent parts of Clementi and Bukit Ho Swee. Woodlands is best served by the SDP because this part of Singapore has a slightly disproportionate number of Malay residents. The Chinese-flavoured Workers’ Party and NSP may have trouble reaching them.

Get real

But I have the feeling all this is just a pipe-dream. We will likely continue to have a multiplicity of small parties yet. And getting the NSP to pull up stakes from the areas they have contested before will be very hard. Perhaps they can keep Tampines and the Workers’ Party may indulge them. Or they get ready to face off in three-cornered fights sooner or later.

80 Responses to “But which ground to work?”

  1. 1 yuenchungkwong 9 May 2011 at 20:22

    you have to thank PAP for setting a high election deposit, thus discouraging 3 cornered fights – the chance of the lowest count falling below 12.5% is too high; in fact, it might be in the interest of PAP to reduce the deposit amount and encourage more candidates to take a chance

    similarly, it might be in PAP’s interest to abolish the NCMP system: given the strength of WP, there is a high chance that its candidate would score highest losing counts in addition to higher chance of winning; WP thus stands to gain the greatest benefit from the system, and it might be in PAP’s interest to bring in some form of proportionate representation instead, either a system similar to Taiwan’s mixing first past the post and proportionate representation in the same chamber, or two chabers one based on first past the post and the other (senate) proportionately represented; either way, it gives 2nd, 3rd.. largest opposition parties a better chance to participate in parliament thus reducing WP’s influence;

  2. 2 Tanky 9 May 2011 at 20:24

    Excellent article!

    I think it will be clearer after 2016 GE.
    For the next 5 years, I imagine the WP will be busy making sure both Hougang and Aljunied are well taking care of, as well as working the grounds of the ones that got away. It might work on Pasir Ris Ponggol, especially if there are signs that SDA may self destruct.

    Apart from working the grounds, SDP might focus on playing up a shadow cabinet, making suggestions on economic policies etc. It probably should also focus on strengthening it’s volunteer groups.

    I think NSP needs to focus more on internal matters, failing which might see a split.

  3. 3 Evariste 9 May 2011 at 20:44

    I think the parties should be willing to “trade” constituencies where they have 35% or less — it’s clearly that the groundwork “lost” would be minimal.

  4. 4 ThePasserby 9 May 2011 at 21:13

    Excellent analysis. However, I do not foresee any of the opposition parties coalescing around 2 or 3 parties. But who can blame them? The driving force of the founders and leaders of the political parties has always been to chase after an ideal and the power to run things their way, so it is hard for any of the leaders to agree to be subordinated to another party, and recent history shows that they don’t last anyway.

    So I don’t expect any of them to come out with any comprehensive plan to parcel out the land between them, which means the parties will make half-hearted effort to pound the streets, or spread themselves out thinly covering a wider area and be willing to back out to avoid three-cornered fights come GE2016

  5. 5 jellyfish07 9 May 2011 at 21:13

    good analysis and suggestion, as always.

    Perhaps the choice of colour on the first map could be better…cant tell the difference between the yellow/light yellow and light blue/white.

    • 6 sleekysky 10 May 2011 at 15:57

      me too! use solid blue for WP!

      • 7 freddie 10 May 2011 at 20:45

        A good map detailing the election results can be found at:


        Also shows the actual constituency boundaries, majority wins and voter turnout as bonuses. I suspect the Electoral Department will draw up a map similar to this, except in greater detail. Are the results of individual wards within a GRC known publicly? ST hints at it, but no real numbers.

        What do you think of the voter turnout this election? I’m surprised by the large amount of missing voters in both Joo Chiat and East Coast (perhaps too close in vicinity to Changi Airport haha). I know many overseas Singaporeans complaining that they either had nowhere close to vote or failed to register in time, so they lost their chance to speak up, albeit still following the elections avidly online.

  6. 8 Gard 9 May 2011 at 21:20

    Israel has a population of around 7.7 million and more than a handful of political parties.

    How Israel managed to survive and prosper in a dangerous region by ‘auto-pilot’ of so many political parties must be a mystery to people who subscribe to East Asian democracy (aka monarchy).

  7. 9 John Tan 9 May 2011 at 21:40

    I think after this elections, the other opposition parties should have no illusions about who the leader of the pack is. In fact we are seeing the early signs of a two party state. WP should not have to give way to any party at all and should state it’s intention to contest all of the eastern and north eastern parts of Singapore in the next elections right now rather than wait for the opposition pow wow. Inevitably if the NSP doesn’t give way then it should let the voters decide whom they support. Many people who were unsatified with the PAP in the West are lamenting that WP is not contesting in their area. Moving forward, SDP and NSP may become irrelevant if they fail to secure seats at the next elections. And if the WP gain more seats then Singapore will truly evolve to become a two-party state!

    • 10 Anonymous 10 May 2011 at 00:18

      Still too early to tell if WP can actually hold together after this election.

      During the run up to this election, SDP was the target of PAP not WP. In fact WP even got praise from the PAP. And WP could simply work under the radar.

      Now the PAP is going to be targeting the WP more. The question is whether WP can handle fire from PAP and expectation of the electorate.

      The SDP (core group) unlike the WP has gone through baptism of fire so fierce one would have thought the would have died long time ago. Can’t say the WP have the mental to take such punishment.

      I suspect if the WP under (real) pressure will probably morphed into a PAP or try to please all people all the time and accomplish nothing.

      • 11 whatu1 10 May 2011 at 08:20

        How can an opposition party work under the radar in our political environment? During the pow wow, I am sure strategies would have been formulated and agreed upon. Otherwise, is it meer coincidence both incumbent opposition wards step out to challenge in a GRC in the same election? Every party got flaked. Just this time, the sheer numbers meant attention had to be diverted to various candidates, instead of just an individual.

        2 elections ago, Dr Chee got targetted. Last election, James Gomez. This election? Private Sec ability was questioned, citizenship was questioned,youth was questioned, sexual orientation was questioned… Seems like there was no fixed direction to distract on hands issues with a target to bombard,

        Every top gun was busy fending for themselves? Or there was a co-ordinator missing from the party? Aka the grand dame who had a national sending off? The saying behind every great man is a woman applicable?

  8. 12 shoutloud 9 May 2011 at 22:01

    We have seen in this election how discipline can bring results. It seems that other than WP, the other parties do not have discipline. What you mention is not possible, or as you say, a pipe dream.

  9. 13 whatu1 9 May 2011 at 22:27

    I read with interest on your proposal. However, being human and some with ego, this may be the “ideal” way to contest as an Opposition, but some people will want to be their own party leader. At the end, there will be 3 cornered fights all over the island. Sad to say but history to repeat itself. See pre-1991 history.

    In honesty, maybe opposition parties should consider forming coalition as how other countries do. Like Tory vs Labor. Democrats vs Republicans. There may be smaller parties like Greens and Nationalists that can survive base on the electorate grounds they contest in. But at the end, only a handful of parties should contest election (be it for branding or recognition).

    As mentioned in some of my posts, the political scenery in Singapore has yet to mature to that stage. Yes, we have made a break through with the GRC win by an opposition party after years of suppressing and political play. But we have not grown to the stage where political parties can cast aside minor differences and form coalition.

    My 2 cents take.

  10. 14 harishpillay 9 May 2011 at 22:31

    While your analysis and ideas are interesting, I reckon the 2016 elections will see a very different and possibly broken up PAP emerging – post LKY. It could be that the splintered PAP could see significant defection to the WP and SDP (and perhaps to NSP). The hawkish LKY-esque PAP types like Ng Eng Heng, Teo Chee Hean and even Lim Swee Say could form the core of the remaining PAP. In the power struggle post-LKY, I don’t see LHL holding on to the PMship given the 60% showing in 2011 and it is highly likely that LHL could actually be ousted.

    Agreed that the scenario I’ve painted above is very remote, so I think the next best thing to make happen is for the new WP MPs to put up a private members bill to force the issue of:
    a) Placing the Elections Department out of the PM’s office and becoming an independent Commission
    b) Announcing the boundaries no less than 12 months from the next general election

    These two options are very doable and we have enough people to articulate it in Parliament. I reckon that even some PAP MPs (provided the whip is lifted) would vote for it.

    Again, if it is not tried, we would never know.

  11. 15 Singhaporean 9 May 2011 at 22:44

    Mr. Writer:
    You’ve made a great point in working the contiguous map for the opposition to be ready for GE2016. But, please can someone enlighten one who has been away from Singapore. How are the decisions to redraw the constituencies taken? How is it decided, does it get legislated and approved by Parliament and at what time does it get implemented before the next elections? This redrawing of constituency boundaries again and again, seems to smell of dictatorial fear. I wonder if more than this (constituency lines) will be redrawn for the next election.

    • 16 R 10 May 2011 at 00:19

      The reason usually given for redrawing of lines is ‘population shifts’, however SM Goh has balantly announced before that the GRC system was set in place to favour the ruling party. (essay: http://ybsampler1.blogspot.com/2006/06/goh-chok-tong-admits-that-grcs-are.html )

      The drawing of boundaries is done by the Election Department, headed by the Prime Minister’s Office. This gerrymeandering is well known throughout Singapore though, I’ve moved 3 consituencies before without changing address.

      • 17 Anonymous 13 May 2011 at 22:47

        Go read hard truths by lky. There’s a statement he made on Gerry mandering. That’s why the pap is now refuting these allegations by the opposition

  12. 18 Denise 9 May 2011 at 22:49

    Hi Alex,

    To say there’s going to be consolidation is absolutely the result of FPTP, inevitably it results in 2 party system, good or bad, I do not know.

    Would NSP and WP consider merging? Abandoning the vested interest of old NSP cadres would be a good start. Mr Yew garner amongst lowest votes.

    They had a handful of excellent candidate and not so excellent one (Tsk ITE…), sorry to sound MIW, this election proved credential is important. They did not seem to have leveraged those excellent candidates.

    Side by side, Goh Meng Seng and Nicole on the same press conference, he come across really lack lustre, uncharismatic and even bufoonish (sorry again, my respect to his late brother who pass away helping his campaign).

    My hope is still with SDP, what will happen if Dr Chee came back to stand for election? Would he be a liability, as Lee Kuan Yew appeared like a victorian time-traveller.

  13. 19 marine parade lobster 9 May 2011 at 23:00

    Its actually not a bad idea, also considering the performance of the NSP. If im not wrong they have been strong in Tampines, but the irony is that their best result was in Marine Parade, but i believe is due to Marine Parade being uncontested for the longest time and voter dissatisfaction, 1 for the fact that Marine Parade GRC is used to bring in the largest number of 1st time MPs (4 out of 6 in 2006 GE were new faces in Marine Parade) and 2, the whole Tin Pei Ling Vs Nicole Seah fiasco. Hopefully either the NSP or the Workers Party sees this opportunity to establish some good groundwork and we might see an upset in 2016.

    • 20 yawningbread 9 May 2011 at 23:59

      I can foresee the WP will want to start working the ground in Marine Parade. Why? Because after Yee Jenn Jong’s strong performance in Joo Chiat, there is a high risk that at the next electoral boundaries review, Joo Chiat SMC will be absorbed into Marine Parade. Why should WP give up Joo Chiat just like that? Far smarter for the WP to start groundwork in Marine Parade so that whether or not Joo Chiat gets absorbed they do not lose out on the handsome support in that area.

      But this will immediately put WP and NSP into conflict. I’m fine with it, but I don’t think NSP will be fine with it (look what happened in the end with the tussle for Moulmein-Kallang).

      • 21 skponggol@gmail.com 10 May 2011 at 07:56

        Not to mention that Marine Parade GRC Ubi ward and Serangoon ward is just across the street from Aljunied GRC.

        Come 2016, there may be a Aljunied spillover effect onto the Marine Parade GRC. In fact, during this 2011 election, the WP rallies for Aljunied GRC were held in Serangoon stadium and Ubi estate which would surely attract a huge number of Marine Parade GRC voters. So the voters swing for Marine Parade GRC may also be partly due to the huge WP rallied that were held so near to the Marine Parade GRC.

  14. 22 Peter Mak 9 May 2011 at 23:10

    alex, does this signify a shift from your previous stance that 3-cornered fights should not be avoided and would give the people a choice?

    i agree with most of your commentators (in that blogpost) that 3-cornered fights should be avoided, for the reason that it stretches the resources of the already-thinly-stretched opposition parties.

    interestingly, your earlier survey made me think about my choices – i realised my first choice for this election would be WP, followed by SDP. however, i voted (happily anyway) for NSP because neither WP nor SDP were contesting my constituency.

    my first choice of WP is partly due to pragmatic reasons, as WP is currently the strongest amongst the opposition parties and thus the most likely to be able to challenge PAP successfully. as the current election has shown, the SDP (and also the NSP) was not able to win any seats despite having some pretty good candidates.

    in the next few elections, though, i think my first choice would change to SDP, followed by WP, assuming the various parties strengthen and the electorate matures in thinking, i.e., an ideal situation.

    • 23 yawningbread 9 May 2011 at 23:54

      I still think that democracy is only true democracy when parties do not go out of their way to avoid three-cornered or four-cornered fights. As the WP grows, this will be harder to avoid.

      However this article was written on the assumption that parties do wish to avoid 3-cornered fights whatever my personal wishes may be.

  15. 24 Ken 9 May 2011 at 23:49

    Totally agree that the opposition parties need to pick their battles better. One thing I’ve been mulling over today is the (largely unexpected) strong performance by the WP’s Joo Chiat representative. I wonder how an SDP candidate would have performed. The constituency has a large proportion of Catholics (among the Eurasian and Peranakan communities, as well as longtime Katongites who might have grown up in the Catholic schools there, the Holy Family church, etc) – I wonder if the Catholic Church’s recent message on the elections played any kind of role in influencing voters to pick the WP. If so, this might be a natural catchment for SDP as well, since human rights and civil liberties, coupled with the SDP’s less Chinese-tinged positioning – are likely to find a ready audience among this body of voters.

    • 25 peach 10 May 2011 at 06:18

      ‘If so, this might be a natural catchment for SDP as well, since human rights and civil liberties, coupled with the SDP’s less Chinese-tinged positioning – are likely to find a ready audience among this body of voters.’

      Human rights and civil liberties might appeal to the more well educated, but not necessarily to Christian/Catholic voters. Take for instance 377A, which the SDP has stated it would like to see repealed. I imagine that this would more likely than not put off Christian/Catholic voters.

      • 26 drmchsr0 10 May 2011 at 11:05

        I’m Christian, and I’d like to see 377A repealed.

        I find it hilariously sad that our government repeals 377 but allow 377A to remain. (And for the record, sex with animals is now legal in Singapore. Just a silly little factoid for everyone out there. Hey, even the Christians AND Catholics missed out on saying something against legalized rape in marriage. Or that.)

        Just because I do not approve or like your lifestyle does NOT mean I do not fight for your freedoms.

      • 27 Magda Anne 10 May 2011 at 12:53

        I’m Catholic and queer. It’s not impossible. (And Catholics are Christians.)

      • 28 peach 10 May 2011 at 14:15

        There certainly are Christians who are gay and Christians who support gay rights; it was not my intention to suggest that either is impossible. I was suggesting that, in my opinion, it’s a reasonable assumption that followers of monotheistic religions are less likely to support gay rights.

    • 29 Ken 11 May 2011 at 09:50

      I agree with peach. But I also that there is a lot more to human rights and civil liberties than just 377a: freedom of speech and assembly, rights for persons with disabilities, rights of women, minority rights, other and all forms of discrimination (including against non-Singaporeans in our midst, social and income inequality, etc etc etc. I feel that SDP would be unwise to trumpet gay rights (however much they believe in the need to do this) in any constituency if they want to capture a sizeable proportion of votes in the next elections. As much as I wish they would, it would just risk alienating too many Singaporeans, not just from the religious groups with doctrinaire views on homosexuality but social conservatives as well.

      • 30 Poker Player 11 May 2011 at 18:10

        “I feel that SDP would be unwise to trumpet gay rights”

        Once you take that away, SDP should just dissolve itself and its members join WP. The Green parties of Europe may never ever form the government, but they change the political discourse. It’s not just about winning seats.

  16. 31 ExExpat 10 May 2011 at 00:14

    Hi Alex – nice your map labeling! Still 5 years to go… I have another pipe dream which could also solve the dilemma:

    If Singapore voting system would be like some other countries, with ONE vote for direct candidate, plus ONE for the party (this is practiced in Germany, New Zealand, etc), then this would happen:

    – We had 40% of seats (36 seats), not 6 seats (or 8%, a 5x under representation!) occupied by alternative party members. That would be by far fairer, and would give the smaller parties exposure. We would know them better, they might form coalitions, or sink in incompetency, and so on. As an examle, this is exactly how the green party rose in Germany (and ended up providing a fabulous foreign minister, Joschka Fischer), also some extremist parties naturally disappeared because they simply prove themselves incompetent in parliament.

    – The big fear that there might be a “swing” at the next election is buffered away; in case the big party comes near 50%, then suddenly they might loose too many seats. The change would be more gradual, smoother, given the same voting behavior.. and this may even prevent a complete swing – well, I love to present a graphic on this but I can’t upload it here.

    – With the 2nd party vote, there would be party lists. So for instance, a small party would win 10%, get 9 seat – but because they only won 2 SMCs, the would be allowed to add 7 extra people, a bit like in the NMP system/”best looser” approach (or was it “worst looser”). So in the current GE, we would not have lost our rather capable foreign minister, and we would have CST in parliament! Instead, a few less important faces would not be in parliament, see my next point.

    – At the same time, the biggest party would not need to fill the 81 seats with new candidates that are so hard to find/convince, since they would only get 60% of the seats… so maybe then we may not see so many empty seats in parliamentary sessions…

    This fairest and quite stable system is in fact termed “mixed member proportional system”, or MMP, so maybe Singaporeans would like it because of such a nice TLA (three letter acronym)! Look it up:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_member_proportional_representation for details.

    Right, I am just dreaming.

    • 32 Francis Sim 10 May 2011 at 09:21

      It will be extremely unlikely for PAP to let its representation drop below the 66.6% it requires to make amendments to the constitution. The opposition can disagree for all they want but PAP has the super majority required to pass any law and amendments they want.

  17. 33 TWH 10 May 2011 at 01:11

    A bit of my two cents worth take on the demographics in my GRC, Bishan Toa Payoh, on why it turned out the way it did.

    The SPP’s motto, “Service before self” summarised everything. Not so much of 1st-world parliament debate, though that is a method they would endorse, so they all MPs better serve the public.

    Of the 43.6%, I believe a huge majority was contributed by Toa Payoh voters. It helped that Toa Payoh Lorong 8 belongs to Potong Pasir SMC (though I am afraid of them eventually merging into a 6 member GRC 😦 ), and many other Toa Payoh residents in the near vicinity have 1st hand encounters and testimonials from neighbours on how Mr Chiam serves. Also helps that Toa Payoh has a slightly more elderly generation who emphathise with the concept of service before self.

    The problem however lies with the Bishan people stretching all the way from the CTE edge of Braddell Rd through Thomson to nearby of AMK. I stay in this clunk, but right at the edge, bordering over to the Toa Payoh Lorong 8 side. From my observations, sad to say as it may offend many, the people here are neither moved by the concept of service or the appeal of alternative views. They are generally a very complacent lot who really couldn’t be bothered. I think this lies partly with the fact our area is a “goldmine” in terms of housing prices and many actually have a “that’s enough for me will do, heck care la” attitude. This accounts for the 10,000+ voters who didn’t even bother to turn up. To them the $50 fine is peanuts.

    Ok, I didn’t follow NSP and SDP closely as I am in the Bishan Toa Payoh GRC but I must say we shouldn’t write off the SPP just like this. Considering it is their first run, its showing is really good. Many attribute it to the “sympathy appeal” of Mr Chiam, which I do agree. I was guilty of it initially before attending their cooling-day eve rally. However after the rally I was totally bought over by their sincerity to serve, pioneered by Mr Chiam. This party needs to work on this major plus point. A lot of us Bishan Toa Payoh GRC voters actually know our MPs are MIAs, only appearing during “major events”.

    Lest you mention the carrot appeal, actually it will not work in GE 2016 anymore. By then the ENTIRE Bishan Toa Payoh GRC would have been completely spruced up. Thus the ruling party’s appeal may be even weaker in GE 2016, unless then there is a total team revamp. Then you may question, how to appeal them with the service pull.

    Service need not be the traditional Potong Pasir type of assisting residents with emergency plumbing. Bishan residents have full knowledge of where to get help on this on their own accord. However, another major issue of assistance is required, a one which requires the assistance of all opposition parties: Foreign Talent. How so?

    Many Bishan Toa Payoh GRC voters of my demographics (now in the early 30s, thus will be mid-30s by GE 2016), will be experiencing even greater influx of intense pressure at work, not just due to competiton from younger Singaporeans, but also FT. The constant dash on the treadmill is already draining many and they will feel even more disillusion then. Also, there are many well-off new citizens and PRs residing in our GRC (Bishan North, Thomson side). I don’t know about others but frankly I’m quite unsettled by how “globalised” this GRC can be. However, the SPP didn’t realise this is THE major factor close to our heart. We Bishan residents are basically a quite “heartless and mercenary” lot, very concerned about career advancement. If the SPP can convince the Bishan part of the GRC of their sincerity to assist them in addressing this issue, the results next time may be a pleasant surprise.

    Just as the WP has revamped itself by Mr Low’s diligent homework after so long, finally scoring Aljunied GRC, I believe the SPP needs to do more groundwork of this type. Basically they were given too little time to prepare, especially after the failed alliance fiasco. For me, I don’t think any other party should try contesting in this zone as SPP has won the hearts of the Toa Payoh crowd through Mr Chiam’s 20+ years of hard work. The other parties would find it even more difficult trying to connect with our side as they would have to start from scratch. I’m not proposing any official alliance but I think it best that all the different oppositions analyse their different strengths, so that they know and concentrate on which GRC/SMCs to target, and not end up letting partisan rivalry spoil their chance for the 1st world parliament to take materialise. The Workers’Party is the first one which realised this.

    Can’t really come up with a quick fix on this, but I really do not wish to see the opposition parties die out because of internal “squabbling”. Each has its individual strength which the ruling party and other oppositon party does not possess. They should try to work upon reconciling this to let every Singaporean’s voice be heard. Pretty idealistic isn’t it? But it beats just treating the past month as sheer entertainment.

  18. 34 AllyL 10 May 2011 at 01:19

    You mentioned Yio Chu Kang SMC ‘vanished off the map’ in 2001. However, it came back in GE2006 and Seng Han Thong won with 68 percent of the votes. It has always been a PAP stronghold because of the work done by previous PAP MP Mr Lau Ping Sum who was popular with residents.I am speculating that it was reabsorbed into AMK GRC in GE2011 because of the strong result in GE2006. But it could also have been due to the series of unfortunate events of a cabby and disgruntled resident attacking MP Seng in 2009. I suspect it was more of the former which led to the higher percentage of votes going to the PAP in GE2011 compared with that of ’06 in AMK GRC.

    • 35 Francis Sim 10 May 2011 at 09:24

      I beg to differ. I feel that it is largely due a RP team formed with a student and borrowed members that leads to a worse performance compared to GE2006. After all, WP sent a ‘suicide’ squad to AMK GRC in 2006. RP did not even manage to increase the swing towards opposition which is a trend across the board.

  19. 36 Evariste 10 May 2011 at 01:26

    SDP is too advanced for most Singaporeans. SDP is just too ahead of its time.

    it also is lacking in marketing executives. SDP’s stronghold should be among students — and yet — it does not pursue the student demographic aggressively.

    • 37 R 10 May 2011 at 03:08

      I think among the holland-tanglin-bukit timah-tanjong pagar area it has a very good chance. I would vote for Dr. Chee and possibly Vincent W., but probably not the other SDP candidates. Alex is right that SDP’s idealogy appeals very strongly to the English-speaking class and overseas Singaporeans (my 50 year old aunt who lives in NYC, voted for SDP in Holland-BKT so the myth that ‘older residents would vote for PAP’ doesn’t really matter.)

      The problem is that SDP’s line of candidates doesn’t really have the same capabilities. If SDP fielded Vincent W. against Dr Lily Neo or Indranee Rajah – I would still vote PAP. I vote for the candidate, not for a particular party and I think I can safely say that a lot of people living in this area have similar beliefs.

      On the other hand there are a lot of young students who still look up to PAP. For instance, Xiaxue’s blog (and her followers) are a good example of the hardcore young PAP followers who believe that their fellow students are ‘too whiny’ or ‘complaining’ about the PAP.

      Basically not all students/young people are the same. Just look at Nicole Seah and Tin Pei Ling, they are both supposed to appeal to the youth demographic but obviously they aren’t the same.

    • 39 peach 10 May 2011 at 06:15

      Why do you see the SDP’s ‘stronghold’ as being amongst students?

    • 40 Ken 10 May 2011 at 09:52

      Hi Evariste, you bring up an interesting point about SDP. I’m just not sure if it’s really ahead of its time, since the issues it champions tend to be of marginal appeal/interest to most voters and will likely stay that way in the decades ahead. Even in mature democracies, appeals to civil liberties and human rights don’t always translate into a large voter base. A strong, consistent voter base, yes, but certainly not a large one.

      A case in point has been Ms Teo Soh Lung’s candidacy. It can be argued that she entered the race relatively late, but she is certainly not an unknown in Singapore politics. She has a strong, fervent fan base (witness all the people who went to SDP rallies just to get their copy of Beyond the Blue Gate signed!) but that didn’t translate to very much on the ground.

      SDP is at a political crossroads: to hold fast to its founding principles (which I think many supporters would like) or to diversify its message and therefore raise its appeal to Singaporeans (with the possible result of alienating its core support base).

      Personally, I would like very much to see SDP move toward a more social democratic profile. It should capitalise on WP’s gradual shift toward the right, to appeal to voters who might have supported WP this time round (given its direct, formidable challenge to the PAP) but remain alienated by WP’s stand on issues such as 377a, minimum wage, etc. You are right that the student demographic is a good one to target.

  20. 41 CY 10 May 2011 at 02:43

    Thank you for bring this up. Hopefully the success of WP in Aljunied will highlight to the other parties the importance of long-term groundwork. It has taken Low TK about 10 years since he took over leadership of WP.

    We should also consider the possible movements of the current slate of candidates across parties; it is not certain that some of them will remain with their current party. From what I understand, WP closed its doors to recruitment early on, probably satisfied with its current team. The candidates who emerged later on (especially those from the mass resignations at RP) had to settle with alternatives such as SDP and NSP. Some of these candidates may move to a more preferable party of their choice, especially if they were interested in joining WP in the first place.

    Should opposition candidates focus on a particular area/constituency to boost their chances at future elections? Sylvia Lim was the only candidate in both WP teams for Aljunied 2006 and 2011: but the presence of other strong candidates in the 2011 team (e.g. Low TK and Chen SM) are also factors for success. More glaring is the NSP-SDA’s failure at Tampines at every election since 1988 (barring a PAP walkover in 1997): no candidate contested Tampines more than once. On the flip side, Sitoh Yi Pin succeeded in his third attempt at Potong Pasir (though the vote swing may also be attributed to Mrs Chiam contesting in place of her husband).

    Yet I would also agree with your sentiment that all this is a pipe dream. Only the WP seems to have a feasible plan for the next GE at the moment – target East Coast and continue working on the townships of Sengkang, Punggol and Yishun. Ang Mo Kio should be taken more seriously (no ‘suicide squads’ please) in case PM Lee’s authority is further weakened by poor policies and division within the PAP itself. It is imperative for the other established parties to resolve their internal issues first – the veteran politicians need to realise the importance of groundwork, or simply get out of the picture. The old adage “a rolling stone gathers no moss” is an apt description.

  21. 42 sieteocho 10 May 2011 at 05:47

    I think that parties should be allowed to find their feet. I don’t think there’s a need for consolidation yet. As it is, everybody’s looking around, shopping around for the right party, and the parties are still trying to figure out where they stand on issues. Don’t forget that at the beginning of this year, Nicole Seah was a member of the Reform party.

    I don’t even believe in a 2 party system. It is like giving you a choice between pepsi and coca cola. It’s almost not a choice at all, but most first past the post systems (including US presidential elections) eventually evolve into 2 party systems.

    The peculiarities of our first past the post system is this: you can have 60% of the vote, and still win almost every seat. (Let’s not talk about GRC system, because GRC is just first past the post on steroids.) So if there’s another swing and the PAP gets 55%, they will be in big trouble. PAP will lose easily 20-25 seats. Another swing to 50%, and the PAP will lose the 2/3 majority, possibly even the simple majority in seats. And this could happen in a short while.

    So we could see an opposition run the government in 20 years or less.

    The priority is not for the opposition to grab as much power from the PAP as possible. The priority is for them to find their feet, to develop a party ideology, and to figure out how to govern this country in 20 years. And this is best done, for now, without all the opposition consolidated under the same party whip. Right now, they have to focus on attracting the best people and come up with a coherent way of government. Because even though politics is the means, government is the ends.

  22. 43 Robox 10 May 2011 at 07:35

    The Workers Party campaigned on wanting to work towards a First World parliament, and one of the 5 points they clarified on the subject was constitutional accountability, though not exactly using the same words.

    But they meant the same thing.

    The remaining 4 points were redundant if they had used the words – and meant – “constitutional accountability”.

    Additionally, they campaigned on wanting to hold the PAP government accountable.

    (Funny how they campaign as if they were the SDP, but in Parliament, are more likely to conform as closely as possible to the PAP – based on their track record – by distinguishing themselves just enough from the PAP to fool Singaporeans that they are actually doing the job of an opposition party.)

    The Workers Party now has to account for this:



    “When a PAP candidate loses the election, he is appointed or will remain as “Adviser” to the grassroots organisations. He heads the Community Club (CC) and nominates or endorses members of the Residents’ Committee (RC) whose activities are co-ordinated and routinely administered by the PA which is funded by government budget.

    At the party level, he is in charge of the PAP’s branch in the constituency which is closely affiliated to the PAP Community Foundation (PCF). The PAP party office is usually located inside the premises of PCF, which is registered as a charitable organisation and runs pre-education classes for residents in the ward. The PCF premises are granted “concessionary rent” by the HDB.

    To summarise, when a PAP candidate loses the election, he goes to the CC under the umbrella of the PA and to his party office under the PCF, where he can conduct meet-the-people sessions in a proper office in air-condition comfort.

    Now, when a WP candidate loses the election, he has to, quite simply put it, ‘roam the streets’ if he wishes to continue extending his reach in the ward.” – Low Thia Khiang, Workers Party Hypocrite


    Now that the only ‘opposition’ voices in Parliament so far have been confirmed as Workers Party ones, Low Thia Khiang and the rest of the Workers Party MP-elects have to account for what they are going to do about this. (Three out of the six, or 50%, of the Workers Party MP-elects are lawyers; this would normally be no problem for them):

    1. Is the Workers Party going to fight – in Parliament or outside of it, which they can do right now – for their own losing candidates to set up office in air-condition comfort in the Peoples Association (PA)?

    2. If the Workers Party is now the sole representative in Parliament of Singaporeans who did not vote for the PAP – 4 out of 10 of them, close to half of all Singaporeans – will they now also fight for the right of Singaporeans who stood for elections under another party’s ticket, lost, but nevertheless want to continue being a voice for Singaporeans in those constituencies that they lost in the air-condition comfort of PA offices?

    Time to bring the Constitution in:

    Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore states:

    “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.”

    What that means is that all candidates who stood for elections – PAP ones or anyone else under any other party’s ticket – are also equal under the law and entitled to equal protection of the law.

    The People’s Association (PA) is a public institution funded by all Singaporeans; it is not funded by the PAP’s party coffers to serve only its own party objectives. As a publicly funded body, it is the Peoples Associations’s (PA) job to provide administrative services equally under the law.

    Will the Workers Party be acountable, and constitutionally so as per their own objectives to work towrads a First World parliament, be constitutionally accountable on this matter?

    Or are they going to spend the next five years in Parliament, after having prostituted from the decidedly anti-PAP votes to get their hands on the $15 000/mo MP allowances, signalling their acceptability to the PAP and continue to not oppose them in any important way?

    • 44 twasher 11 May 2011 at 00:26

      I too would also prefer that the main opposition party in Parliament be a more ‘principled’ one like the SDP, but I think LTK’s strategy is a good one. LTK himself said some time in the 2000s that he thinks it will be 20 years before there can be a viable non-PAP government. His party’s strategy reflects this long-term perspective. They understand the ground very well and are being exactly the kind of opposition party that the majority of voters want. In this way they can slowly gain more seats in Parliament. After they have enough seats, then they can contemplate being aggressive about their policy priorities.

      Like Poker Player, I think SDP-style confrontational politics has its function as well, but if all the parties were like SDP, the PAP will continue to be in power for a much longer time.

  23. 45 Poker Player 10 May 2011 at 10:31

    I think Singapore will have lost something if the SDP started to behave more and more like the other opposition parties in order to be popular.

    It is the closest thing to the ACLU that we have. The ACLU is not about popularity, it is about our principles and forcing us to be honest about them.

    Their best work for the opposition cause was the outrage the court cases involving them caused. It showed us how our system truly worked – behind the propaganda.

    The only reason for them to be a political party is to conform to silly laws about what organizations are allowed to get involved in politics.

  24. 46 Poker Player 10 May 2011 at 10:41

    “Or are they going to spend the next five years in Parliament, after having prostituted from the decidedly anti-PAP votes to get their hands on the $15 000/mo MP allowances, signalling their acceptability to the PAP and continue to not oppose them in any important way?”

    You will get hate-mail for this – but I agree with you.

    I have a hard time believing Low Thia Khiang’s timidity in Parliament.

    How much courage does it take to call Lee Hsien Loong’s bluff when he challenged LTK to call for Wong Kan Seng’s resignation?

    How much courage does it take to chide the speaker when he protected the then Minister of Transport from having to answer a simple and very valid question?

    In both cases, he was cowed.

    This is what Singaporeans consider non-confrontational and this seems to be the only kind of candidate they will vote into Parliament.

    Can anyone imagine JBJ similarly cowed? He, and the generation who put him in Parliament had balls.

    • 47 whatu1 10 May 2011 at 14:53

      Since you made comments on an alternative site, have you check alternative sites for parliamentary sittings and what issues were brought up during those hours long sessions? Not concise into tit bits 15 minutes as shown on mainstream tv.

      Before the advent of internet and new media, how much suppression by the press on alternative voices is known?

      Political awakening is not just recent. A few people have known all along of this (un)kind type of political scenery. Only with more freedom of information, do we have more expression.

      If you have time, spend a bit going through all the parties’ website and see what they have brought up and how much is updated on their site.

      • 48 Poker Player 10 May 2011 at 15:41

        “Before the advent of internet and new media, how much suppression by the press on alternative voices is known?”

        In the case of LTK in parliament, what “suppression” was there?
        He could have called LHL’s bluff/challenge on WKS’s resignation.
        He could have taken to task the speaker on point of order.
        In both cases, he had parliamentary immunity – not that he needed it – he could have done either outside parliament and not be breaking any law.

    • 49 Peiling 10 May 2011 at 20:19

      Well, Dr Chee / JBJ spoke up for the people and got into serious trouble. JBJ died a tired and angry death, and his son is still bitter till now. Dr Chee has toned down and kept quiet, and was able to field a relatively strong team for this elections. I think staying “alive” enough to compete is better than being silenced completely, and inciting people to fear being involved in politics. Hence, I think Sylvia / LTK did a good job. They allowed people, young and old to stand out bravely and have no fear in supporting their candidates. They made sure they were not prosecuted. My dad said, 15 years ago, people will go to an opposition rally and quickly hide their flags and materials when they leave. WP got rid of such a fear. They re-energized the opposition. Now the opposition is so strong that the PAP won’t take down the WP like it took down JBJ and others because they face a recoil and wrath of their masses. It is a wise strategy.

      • 50 Poker Player 11 May 2011 at 10:01

        “Well, Dr Chee / JBJ spoke up for the people and got into serious trouble. ”

        Dr Chee never had parliamentary immunity.

        JBJ’s problems came from things he said outside Parliament.

        LTK is timid in Parliament even with Parliamentary immunity.

  25. 51 Thor 10 May 2011 at 10:59

    I agree with the spillover effect to Marine Parade. I stay in MP and its walking distance to the serangoon stadium. I feel there was a strong anti TPL and pro NS during the voting. However, the New Paper attempt on NSP candiate must have cost some votes. Additionally, NSP should have consolidated its best efforts on Tampines. I really think MBT is the most hated minister in Singapore. I feel Goh Meng Seng was very stubborn and should take responsibiliy and resign. He was not very accomodating of the other parties. If Hazel Poa, and Tony Tan,had been focused on Tampines, the result might have been different. I suspect GMS wanted the glory for himself.
    But I also think, the increase in the cybercommunity, informed independtly by the net as opposed to the mainstream media, will be counterbalanced by the new citizens which will be added over the next five years.
    Todays ST says no change in policies! Is this what is called listening?
    Will we ever evolve into a democracy?

  26. 52 Robox 10 May 2011 at 11:15

    Alex, do you have a devious hidden agenda to take Gillian Khoo’s job away from here with all these fantastic analyses?

    But seriously, all this is SOOOOO welcome.

    Thank you so much, Alex.

  27. 54 Alan Wong 10 May 2011 at 11:18

    I still think WP’s winning strategy is its ability to field an A-team to take on PAP especially its trump card in Chen Show Mao.

    Remember Chen has now emerged as a black horse in Singapore politics and would not have the luxury then to work the ground yet, but because of his high profile qualifications as a international lawyer and his sincerity and willingness to come back to serve must have touched the hearts of many Aljunied voters.

    See how MM is so worked up by this potential charasmatic candidate that despite his stature, MM even had to resort to hurting his own reputation by telling him to go back to China. If everything proceeds smoothly for WP, I can see that he is a real potential threat to PAP.

    What the opposition need is to cultivate the cordial atmosphere that the time is now ripe for more people in the likes of Chen to come forward and take that big step and offer themselves as potential candidates to take on PAP. Only when there is a real and proper choice of candidates to choose from, then only will we be able to bring our politics to the next level of maturity.

  28. 55 Rabbit 10 May 2011 at 13:00

    I disagree with you. Being an opposition is not an easy task. They need to retain their supporters base and also try to win the heart of those who did not support them or fence seater. The co-driver is not there to strangle the driver just because the passengers don’t like the driver but to keep an eye on him, at least for the next 5 years.

    Silvia Lim mentioned previously that WP need to gain the experience of running a GRC before working its way up to a more challgneing & demanding role in the political landscape. Aljunied has given them this important head start, among other opposition parties. The priority now is to gain a strong footing in Aljunied, managed it well and than prove to its neigbouring towns that they have the confident & track record to steer a bigger ship come 2016 election. I forsee the blue colour (in the smart map) is going to be closely watch in 2016 election and possible 3-corner fight with NSP in certain area.

    Next will be the red colour SDP if they put more effort to do ground work and reach out to the residents.

    SPP may be small, but Phwee just announced they received funding of $2mil from supporters to enable them reach out successfully to the residents in PP and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in the coming 5 years. It is unlikely they will dissappear until a stronger opposition party forced them out, in a matter of time, if SPP continue to contest merely on municipal value than national issues.

    • 56 Robox 10 May 2011 at 23:06


      “Being an opposition is not an easy task. They need to retain their supporters base and also try to win the heart of those who did not support them or fence seater.”

      So in other words, the WP must not be held accountable for their campaign promises. While we work to strenously deny the PAP a blank cheque, we should give one to the WP instead. Those losing candidates, the majority of them from opposition parties including the WP themselves, should not enjoy the same advantages of starting to build a more tangible support base in the constituencies that they lost in, while the PAP’s losing candidates can.

      • 57 Template 11 May 2011 at 09:32

        I have to confess that I am still at a loss as to why there is so much unhappiness towards the WP and LTK over that statement. Using a constitutional argument to support that view seems to be a real stretch.

        Yes, it is inappropriate for the PA to function in the manner you describe. However, what exactly do you expect the WP to do about it? Bring it up repeatedly at every parliamentary session? You do realise they are 6 voices against 81 and, no matter how cogent their argument, they will not get the PAP to change right?

        And why should this issue be the yardstick by which the WP MPs are measured? Aren’t there other issues which are, perhaps, more pressing than pushing for opposition members who lost in the election to be able to sit in an air-conditioned office? Surely bread-and-butter issues like housing, transport, etc, are more important?

        Like I mentioned below, I think the WP has a brilliant opportunity now to show that the opposition is capable and they can run a GRC. That is what will convince the middle-ground Singaporeans that they are not going to “lose” if they vote for the opposition in the next elections. Constitutional arguments or idealogical theories only go so far in terms of persuading the typical Singaporean, most of whom do not seem to be as concerned about things like the death penalty or equal rights for all.

        I would much prefer the WP (and any other opposition party for that matter) show their substance in terms of doing something “real” rather than just fight conceptual battles.

        The sad thing is that these comments come out just a couple of days after the WP has done something that was unthinkable, i.e. winning a GRC. Not sure how much opposition unity there can really be if that is the sentiment shared by other opposition supporters that do not believe in the WP.

  29. 58 Paul 2 10 May 2011 at 13:06

    “It is like giving you a choice between pepsi and coca cola. It’s almost not a choice at all”

    Perfectly expresses my personal unease over what looks to be the growing dominance of the WP. It’ll be a Pyrrhic victory if the main opposition voice in Parliament is barely distinguishable from the PAP.

  30. 59 btan 10 May 2011 at 13:58

    I totally agree with Alex that opposition parties really need to think about forming alliances.

    If SPP, RP and NSP can combined to form an alliance, they may be able to perform in 2016 what worker’s party did in 2011 GE.

    SPP and RP forming an alliance is a possibility as they have already loan members to each other. NSP used to form alliance with SPP but it really depends on what is the outcome of NSP’s post mortem. They split from SDA to go at it solo and now they learn the lessons of the past. Only problem is that if SPP and RP formed an alliance, ex-RP members in NSP may not want NSP to join the alliance. In which case, it would be better if NSP to join WP if WP wants alliance or prefers its tried-and-true method of keeping apart from the rest of the opposition parties.

    Other possible combinations :

    Liberal Alliance – RP + SDP (they want to change the system the most)

    Labour Alliance – NSP + WP (both focusing on working class people)

    Conservative Alliance – WP + SPP (both are old school opposition comrades in parliament, way back during the time of JBJ and CST)

    Some near-impossible alliances but has significant impact :

    NSP + WP + RP : reuniting the breakaway factions

    SPP + SDP + SDA : healing the wounds of the Chiams with his two former protege.

    • 60 yawningbread 10 May 2011 at 14:02

      Is there really any point in trying to tell the parties to join up? There are far more complicated dynamics involved. The more likely scenario leading to a reduction in the number of opposition parties is that the weaker ones implode or get obliterated at the polls.

      • 61 btan 10 May 2011 at 14:43

        Definitely there is a need to merge or form an alliance. No party will just simply dissolve unless they have zero supporters. Even the PKMS which had a public fight has supporters.

        More importantly, however small these parties are, they still have resources in terms of manpower and money, which can be channeled to the larger, more established party.

        They also can form “distraction team” (what others called “suicide squads”) so that the big guns can concentrate on the real prize. I very much doubt WP could succeed in Aljunied if only half the wards were contested. You could then see GCT, LKY, LHL all pointing their big guns at Chen Show Mao or even Low Thia Khiang himself.

  31. 62 kitty 10 May 2011 at 15:02

    Spot on, Alex.

    There was a WP supporter on FB who suggested that WP move to the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC to challenge the PAP. I told her that it would not work because of demographics and ideology. She didn’t buy it. She said there were also private home owners in Joo Chiat and the East Coast and they voted strongly for the WP. I wasn’t going to get into a fight with her, but meekly said that the affluent people in Holland-Bukit Timah are, well, slightly different.

    SDP is perfect for Holland-Bukit Timah. One-third of the voters are private home owners, and from the election results, the majority of the 40% garnered were from the middle and upper class. This means that a third of the votes are already guaranteed. It only takes another third to capture a majority and that is where SDP needs to focus on.

    Liberal politics do play well with the affluent and since Holland-Bukit Timah has the highest concentration of affluence, it is a natural ground for SDP.

    • 63 Nicholas Liu 10 May 2011 at 17:31

      “Liberal politics do play well with the affluent and since Holland-Bukit Timah has the highest concentration of affluence, it is a natural ground for SDP.”

      The extent to which this is true can be overstated. Set aside supposed sensibilities; ask yourself who benefits most from preserving the status quo.

      People still vote for their own (perceived) class interests more often than not. That the better-educated in–for instance–the US tend to vote Democrat should not be viewed as an indication that affluence and education produce progressives. It’s really just a consequence of 1) the fact that the so-called liberal agenda has historically done almost as good a job safeguarding upper-middle-to-upper class interests as has the conservative and 2) espousing liberalism is a way of accruing social capital to oneself among certain circles.

      Yes, Holland-Bt. Timah as a whole has good moral and sentimental reasons to vote progressive. But it has a host of baser reasons not to.

    • 64 Ken 10 May 2011 at 17:37

      Hi kitty, not sure if we should play up this idea that the well-to-do would gravitate toward SDP. As you’ve pointed out, the Holland-Bukit Timah folk are slightly different (nice comment, by the way). I think wealth breeds conservatism, and the truly rich and well-connected live in their own world and probably have a more favourable view of the PAP. It’s no secret – or surprise – that so many PAP leaders live there, even if they contest GRCs far far away. My own MP Raymond Lim (who grew up in Siglap, by the way) is a case in point.

      • 65 kitty 10 May 2011 at 20:15

        Hi Ken,

        Point taken. I wondered too about some of the truly rich as I first believed that the richer folks would vote for the PAP. But when the results came out, I was quite stunned as to where most of the votes for SDP came from. Unfortunately, we might never know the real breakdown because demographics are so important in elections.

        I did have an issue with some of the MPs. The SM lives in Bukit Timah and his GRC is in the East. This brings back to the GRC system and that MPs should live in the wards they are serving. But I doubt this will happen in the near future.

    • 66 Ken 11 May 2011 at 10:04

      Hi Kitty, yes, it’s always bothered me that the MP does not reside in his constituency. I wonder if this is something that bothers people, especially in wards where there is a strong sense of community identity and civic pride. Take Joo Chiat SMC for example (which encompasses a part of the old neighbourhood of Katong and a large swathe of Siglap, Frankel and East Coast Road). I think some people (a good number of the 49% who voted WP) were really proud of the fact that Yee Jen Jong was a homegrown Katong boy, with roots in St Pat’s, Siglap, etc. And Yee was quite smart to capitalise on this: I think he said either in an interview or at a rally that there was no street in the whole SMC that he hadn’t been to, or knew. So maybe this issue will become more important to Singaporeans in the coming years? It is an issue for me, but not enough that it would decide how I vote. Some of my favourite politicians in WP don’t live anywhere close to their wards. Sylvia Lim lives in Jurong (I think), and Gerald Giam lives in Sembawang.

    • 67 Paul 2 11 May 2011 at 23:04

      “She said there were also private home owners in Joo Chiat and the East Coast and they voted strongly for the WP.”

      Yes, but did she consider the possibility that some of the voters in Joo Chiat SMC who voted for the WP did so because that was the only opposition candidate available? (This would probably describe all my family members, for instance.)

  32. 68 whatu1 10 May 2011 at 15:04

    “For every great man, there is a woman behind.”

    From the political scenes being played out over the last 2 weeks, personally feel the “woman’s touch” was seriously missing from the incumbent’s campaign. Mistakes after mistakes made by incumbent ranging from misuse of words (read Repent and Go Back China), foes better than friends (case study of Aljunied vs Toa Payoh-Bishan), usage of unsuitable mud pack (read partner type orientation), etc… Seems like the well oiled machine is stumbling over themselves as the house is no longer neat and tidy.

    And all these happened post passing of the other half…. This is the first election after the passing of our foremother…

  33. 69 market2garden 10 May 2011 at 17:30

    Seems like all of you are optimistic that
    the next GE would be GE2016.
    I don’t think the ruling party to allow alternative parties (especially WP) to grow in strength in five-year time.
    GE2013/14 is very likely to happen.
    Based on my above wild guess,
    Alternative Parties must have Pan-meeting ASAP and work the ground immediately.
    The ruling party just find any excuse (lame excuse) to have snap election, in particular the Aljunied’s fall.

  34. 70 Template 10 May 2011 at 18:03

    Not sure why there is so much vitriol towards the WP for that statement and why the WP now needs to champion that cause, ie fighting for space in the PA offices.

    I would like to think there are other more impt things to fight for in Parliament.

    If you believe it is a constitutional matter, you can bring your own action against the govt on this issue.

    What the WP has done is to create an opening to prove to Singaporeans that an opposition run ward does not lose out and debunk yet another PAP myth. If they can do that, that is one less bullet in the PAP arsenal for 2016. Whether this opportunity can be taken advantage of by the other parties remains to be seen.

  35. 72 jamesneo 10 May 2011 at 18:17

    The parties should start to be ready for the backlash the pap will get since it is likely we will have a property and financial crisis within these 5 years. The party which can convincingly show that the asset enhancement thing is a ponzi scheme will get all the swing votes. The timing is the issue: if the property crash around 2013-2015 and did not recover by 2016, and if the unemployment reaches more than 5% is the best time to expose the ponzi finance that the PAP has engaged in these past fews years through finalization and asset bubble formation.

  36. 73 Tee 10 May 2011 at 18:25


    Don’t forget NSP sec general GMC quitted WP to join NSP. Now you asked them to merge…hmmm

    Like alex said, it is very complicated since all the “smaller parties” seemed to have candidates job-hoppings among themselves due to difference in ideas. Now you asked them to merge again is like going back to the root of problems of in-fighting again.

    Singaporeans only hope is that no more springing up of new party like BN (headed by Chia tik like)? Gosh! you see I can’t even remember those name correctly even if you called me internet savvy let alone other non-savvy voters.

    Let the winner take the cake and the small fry (SDA) squashed into oblivion since this party will be a sore to voters who wanted more powerful oppositions to represent them.

  37. 75 Sam 10 May 2011 at 18:38

    I am not too sure if NSP, SDP & WP are really idealogical different. I see the difference lies in the personalities of their key leaders. Among the 3 parties, each have not managed to capture the minority ground in particular the Malays. I venture to describe the differences lie in the use of Mandarin and the dialects to spread their message. SDP uses more English then the NSP then the WP. But there are differences between the 3 parties for sure in terms of party discipline and logistical set-up. But wasn’t Goh MS from WP and he led the logistic roll-out for WP in the 2006 GE?

    A way forward would be for the three parties to share candidates when working the ground?

  38. 76 Rabbit 11 May 2011 at 00:23


    I wouldn’t even suggest sharing of candidates. It will confuse the voters even further and suggested that candidate has no sense of belongings or loyalty to its own party. PAP has capitalised on the weakness when RP “borrowed” one of SPP candidates to contest in AMK. If I am a voter in AMK, I would have spoil my vote, for principle reason, no matter how much I dislike PAP policies. I hate “rojak” party.

  39. 77 nicebutwhat 11 May 2011 at 21:16

    Basically, the pap will study the situation very carefully over the next 1 or 2 years. The EAST is show big signs of switching to oppositions, slicing here and there and absorbing might not do much. So I think they will change the rules of the game drastically.

    So your map and your suggestion of how various GRCs and SMCs be distributed to parties may not be applicable anymore.

    Basically there are many people who would come forward to contest but Aplus talents are really rare. If GMS had pooled Hazen, Tony, himself and Nicole together into Tampines, MBT would have retired. If SDP A team has contested in Kallang Moulmein, another one to go.

    This election shows a good party with Aplus candidates can win. And LTK and his team shown it. With growing resentment,
    other GRCs in the EAST was badly affected.

    The message is clear, the oppositions should work together and pooled their Aplus candidates and go for the weakest links. However, to get them to work together is a big hurdle, just like Romance of the three kingdoms, everyone wants to be king.

    The conclusion is really that opposition growth is still limited by 2016, maybe another chance to win 1 more GRC but more likely to remain status quo.

    If someone can pull the oppositions to work together with “opportunity unity frame work”, then in 2016, we will see big contests.

  40. 78 skponggol 12 May 2011 at 17:02

    Just for your information, this is already the 3rd community activity attended by Low Thia Khiang and his Aljunied Team.


    A photo for the occasion:

    The earlier activity at a Taoist temple which involves all the Aljunied Team member, including his Muslim and Sikh teammate.

    Two photos for the occasion

    As can be seen, the Workers’ Party is already fast consolidating their support in Aljunied GRC. Low Thia Khiang was very well-received by the attendents at these Taoist temple activities exhibit his strong support among the Chinese voters. He even auction his souvenir to raise funds for the temple.

  41. 79 Mr K 16 May 2011 at 10:26

    Correction my friend…..
    Singapore People’s Party may want to target Bishan area as well…And if possible Serangoon area…..Expected,Potong Pasir may be absorbed in Bishan GRC…..Besides,Alex Tan wants to target AMK too,NOT WP,as WP doesnt want to comeback again….
    While Reform Party wished to set target on only West Coast GRC,Pioneer and Radin Mas…Whilst NSP may also make an absolute comeback in Marine Parade and also an attempt in Moulmein-Kallang too,but I believe WP may attack Tampines….
    Whilst SDA may set target on only Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC,Punggol East and Sengkang West but I believe WP may consider too…..
    It’s an absolute good idea for the NSP to target the Western side but spare West Coast for Kenneth to target on…I believe Jurong and CCK may be considered up,and possibly Yuhua,Pioneer and also West Coast….
    And I’m assuring that SDP may target Sembawang and Holland-Bukit Timah again and also will be considering to make a debut in Tanjong Pagar GRC which is much strategic within Holland V,Chinatown,Queenstown and also Orchard Rd….SDP may consider a comeback in Jurong which was much strategic to Yuhua….
    Good idea,and I’m expecting changes ahead and also expected additional SMCs and also from 87 up to 90 seats at stake,NO WALKOVERS!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. 80 Fool Me Hard 17 May 2011 at 17:56

    It makes sense for WP to contest Marine Parade in 2015/16 and excellent for them logistically as Marine Parade shares many boundaries with Aljunied (Eunos, Kampong Ubi, Geylang Serai and Serangoon) and the spillover effect is strong. Many people in Marine Parade GRC also got went to the WP rallies in Ubi and Serangoon Stadium. Joo Chiat most probably will be merged into Marine Parade next election. Another favorable factor is that Mr Goh will not be contesting next elections (since he already retired as SM) and there is no heavyweight which the infamous Tinbo can hang on. These factors will make it very attractive for WP to contest instead of NSP. NSP is better off focusing on small GRCs like Tampines or in the West.

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