Change in Singapore’s political landscape — Lim Mun Fah
AUG 29 — Voices questioning the competence of the newly-elected Singapore president could be heard within the society right after the results of the country’s presidential election was announced.
After a fierce contest, former Singapore deputy prime minister Tony Tan won a narrow victory by receiving 744,397 votes, or 35.19 per cent of about 2.1 million votes.
Former member of parliament Tan Cheng Bock received 737,128 votes, or 34.85 per cent and Tony defeated Cheng Bock by a narrow margin of 7,269, or 0.34 per cent!
Tan Jee Say, seen as the biggest rival of Tony Tan before the election, earned 529,732 votes or 25.04 per cent, while Tan Kin Lian got 103,931 votes, or 4.91 per cent.
Some posted online after the result announcement that if Jee Say and Kin Lian did not contest this time, Tony would be the second George Yeo. Also, some “congratulated” Tony for being elected the President of Singapore by 737,128 voters out of the total population of about five million people, implying that Tony won because of votes from “immigrants”.
Even though Tony was openly supported by dozens of unions and associations, as well as being secretly “blessed” by the People’s Action Party (PAP), he was able to only won a narrow margin by less than one per cent. It was indeed an embarrassing victory. It has not only set a blow to the personal prestige of “the people’s President”, but as well brought another shock after the general election in May.
The general election in May has been described as an important watershed for Singapore’s political history as the PAP won only 60 per cent of votes while losing a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) for the first time. Nevertheless, public opinion still believes that the PAP holds at least 40 per cent of iron votes.
However, the presidential election results showed that the iron votes of the PAP might be only 35 per cent. It is undoubtedly another political defeat for the PAP, but a great encouragement for the opposition.
In addition, there were as many as 37, 826 invalid votes, which were five times more than the 7,269 majority votes of Tony! This has further made the election of Tony less convincing. Why did so many Singaporeans give up the chance to create a history in Singapore this time? This is in fact another issue to be studied.
Although the Singapore government has deliberately kept a distance from the presidential election, the fierce election has apparently led to many surprising political changes. Among the most significant changes is that voters have become more strong-minded. They now dare to challenge the strongman’s political authority, as well as oppose to the conservative political system.
These changes have led to the emergence of a new political landscape in Singapore, as well as a more competitive new era with more possibilities! — mysinchew.com
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