Saturday, September 12, 2015

Singapore's General Election: PAP's Masterclass

I woke up at 2am to check on news of the polling results of Singapore's GE. Ten minutes later, a strong tremor hit Ranau and my house shook twice for a few seconds. Political happenings are earth-shattering events. And Singapore's ruling party, PAP experienced a revival from 2011's slumber and crushed the opposition with a 9.8% swing. It was PAP's masterclass in electioneering and winning votes. My earlier predictions in "Electoral Masterstroke" all came true. PAP increased its popular votes (though I was way off the margin as I thought it would increase only by 3%), WP retained most of its seats (6 out 7) and other opposition parties were obliterated. Though in the last couple of days before polling I thought there could be just a chance for WP to wrest a couple more seats and just that slim chance that SDP could cause a major upset in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. Dr Chee is an accomplished public speaker, the best of all really but it will take time for Singaporeans to forget his past failures and failings (real or otherwise) knowing that Singaporeans are ever so cautious and slow to accept anything or anyone except that the person is spanky clean and useful to them. Why did PAP score such a resounding victory?
As I mentioned, it was the feel good factor of SG50 and recent demise of LKY (2% or 3% swing on this factor alone). You show gratitude by voting LKY's party no less and no more. It was the election timing (masterstroke as I called it) as one commentator noted, "a perfect convergence of factors" with economic turbulence and external threats (real or perceived). PM Lee's play on a perceived threat in his final speech on Cooling Day was a classic politician's masterclass (anti-Bersih rally with racial overtones just across the causeway) with the implication that it could spill over to Singapore and some voters would be influenced to vote for a tested, safe and steady hands in the present government. Malaysia was used a foil, fortunately or unfortunately, depending whether one is a PAP or opposition supporter. Look, Malaysia are in the doldrums, with 1SGD buying more than RM3.00 and Singaporeans are having a prosperous and good life under PAP's rule and any opposition inroads into Singapore's political make-up could spell trouble for political stability and with it investors' confidence and Singapore's reputation as a financial hub and trading centre. And above it all, the government in the past 4 years had proved themselves in addressing citizens' grouses. Shorter waiting time for HDB flats, more choices, increased affordability, better transportation (Downtown Line 2 ready by December) despite the occasional MRT breakdowns, universal health coverage, increased purchasing power vs. inflation, and many more. With hindsight, the opposition did not stand a chance. WP should comfort themselves with losing just one seat. But yet it was truly a PAP's masterclass and much credit should go to PM Lee for this sweet and decisive victory.

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