By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |
Pritam Singh, one of the two Sikh candidates in Singapore’s general elections 2020, storms into parliament with a larger team of opposition lawmakers.
As anticipated, the dominant People’s Action Party (PAP) once again won comfortably to form the next government.
In the final tally of the 13th national polls, PAP won 83 seats while the Workers’ Party (WP) took 10 seats, including a surprise victory at the new group representation constituency (GRC) of Sengkang.
“Today’s results are positive but we have to hit the ground running. We should not get over our heads with the results, there is much work to do….It was a difficult contest,” Pritam said in his brief remarks after the official announcement of the results of the Aljunied GRC where he was one of the five members that won.
In his speech, PAP leader and caretaker Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that his party has a ‘clear mandate’ but the popular vote percentage was ‘not as high’ as he had hoped.
He noted the results reflected the ‘pain and uncertainty’ felt by Singaporeans with the Covid-19 pandemic and also ‘clearly show a desire for a diversity of opinions in Parliament’.
“Singaporeans want the PAP to form the government, but they, and especially the younger voters, also want to see more Opposition present in Parliament,” he said.
He said that he had congratulated Pritam who would be officially designated as the Leader of the Opposition.
Lee said: “I told Mr Singh that with 10 MPs, I think it is right that he, the Workers’ Party leader, be formally designated as the Leader of the Opposition, and that he will be provided with appropriate staff support and resources to perform his duties.”
The ruling party garnered 61.2% of the votes, down from 69.9% in 2015. WP received 50.5% votes in the seats it contested, probably the first time since the 1960s for an opposition party.
“It’s a night to be remembered. You’re going to have a much more boisterous parliament and the coming of age of the Workers’ Party and and the PSP,” Prof Bilveer Singh told the Straits Times live polling coverage after the full results were announced early morning today (11 July).
The opposition supporters were elated with the results despite initial trepidation of voter flight to safety in view of the fear of the fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a liberating experience,” a WP woman supporter told MothershipSg live coverage of the election results. She was referring to vibrant presence of WP supporters at Hougang constituency which was again secured by the opposition party.
Once constituted, the opposition bench would be made up of 10 elected members and another two non-constituency member of parliament (NCMP) appointed members.
The opposition would have made a larger presence in the Parliament if not for two narrow defeats.
At East Coast GRC, WP slate loss to a slate led by deputy prime minister Heng Swee Keat which garnered 53.4% of the votes. “Had Mr Heng not come to East Coast, there would have been a third GRC loss for the PAP,” said Bilveer.
The other close call for PAP was when incumbent PAP team led by S Iswaran held off the challenge of the Progress Singapore Party led by Dr Tan Cheng Bock after securing 51.7% of the votes.
One pleasant surprise for the WP would be winning the new constituency of Sengkang GRC. The relatively young WP team faced a formidable PAP team led by senior minister of state Dr Lam Pin Min and minister Ng Chee Meng.
The WP included Jamus Lim who performed rather superbly in a TV broadcast debate and Raeesah Khan who was entangled in a controversy over some social media comments
The WP GRC team leader He Ting Ru thanked Sengkang voters for the ‘leap of faith’ in her team which also included Louis Chua.
“The number of young people who came out to walk with us, to volunteer, and expressed a hope for a better future for Singapore has really touched me. I feel this is really important for the future of the country and bodes well for us.
“To residents of Sengkang, we will work for all of you. Tomorrow, we start work,” she said after the official results were announced.
The new constituency with more than 120,000 voters include Compassvale, Rivervale and Anchorvale. WP received 52.1% of the votes in a constituency with 60% of its residents are below 45-years-old.
In his victory speech, Lim, an associate professor of economics at the ESSEC Business School, said: “We hope that we have inspired you, all of you, to believe that the dream of an alternative future is only as far away as the courage to seize the opportunities that come your way.”
The other Sikh candidates in GE2020 was Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chief media officer Harmindar Pal Singh who lost in his third electoral attempt.
Pritam Singh all set for “a good fight” (Asia Samachar, 2 July 2020)
Head count for Indian MPs in Singapore (Asia Samachar, 7 July 2020)
Singapore ruling party is safe till 2030 (Asia Samachar, 30 June 2020)
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