” Singapore General Elections – Difficult to Rewind the Past ” – July 18, 2020.

Lee Hsien Loong, PM, Singapore.

          Following Taiwan and South Korea,  the Election of Parliament in Singapore has left the entire world watch in awed silence.

          Singapore became independent in 1959, but it was only in 1965 that it proclaimed itself as a fully independent, Democratic and Sovereign Republic. Its 18th General Election was held on July 10, 2020 when it elected the 14th Parliament of Singapore since its Independence in 1965 using the first past the post Electoral System.

          As was expected, the People’s Action Party (PAP) secured its 15th consecutive term in the Government since 1959 but with a distinct difference. The party that won in the past with little opposition  and with huge mandates (PAP) will now face a reasonably strong opposition party in WP , the Worker’s Party. This is the important lesson that is learned from this election. Voting was mandatory for all Singaporeans who were aged 21 or above as of March 1, 2020.  192 candidates from 11 parties contested in this election, the most ever in the history of Singapore. There were 73 new faces including an independent candidate.

          PAP led by PM, Lee Hsien Loong, won 83 seats out of the 93 for which Elections were held. The opposition, Worker’s Party, contesting its first General Election, captured 10 seats. This is viewed as a “turning point” in this election. This is the first time since 1966 that any opposition has secured so many seats.

          Ruling PAP secured 61.24℅ of votes, the lowest since the 2011 Elections ( 1524781 votes ). PAP’s  victory is widely regarded as the victory for its effective  handling of COVID-19 crisis ;  a stable employment record ;  and a stable wage performance. Nevertheless, the increase in the vote share of the opposition, WP, ( 11.22 ℅  and  279245 votes ) was an unexpected setback. Ruling Party will certainly be embarrassed by the performance of WP which secured more votes than the opposition SDP in 1991. 

          A sign that people begin to embrace the new Party with open arms.

          PM, Lee Hsien Loong’s positive approach to this growth of opposition is a sign of his political and democratic maturity.  He said :  ” People’s desire and the need for diverse voices and  push for solving problems by the Parliament is well understood. At the same time the mandate given to PAP is their likeness for political continuity. It also appears that youth segment specially favors opposition. We respect the decision of the people “. 

          It is a sincere reflection of the PM’s responsible words and political clarity filled response. True to his words, he has also promised to accord the status of the “opposition leader” to Pritam Singh, Leader of the Worker’s Party. This is the first time that a recognised Opposition Leader will take his responsibility in Singapore Parliament.

          Decrease in voter percentage and increase in opposition seats are not just the causes for the Ruling Party’s worries. Reasons go beyond this. Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Hang Swee Keat, has been declared as the Political successor in a bid to dispel rumours of any surprises in leadership succession. Also, in 2004, PM, Lee Hsien Loong, had announced that he will retire from Politics in February 2022 when he will attain the age of 70.

          That Hang Swee Keat could manage to win by only a small difference also represented a temporary setback in the election process. It has always been the tradition for the prime leader to secure more votes in terms of the national average ( more than that of the national average ) in their election victories – be it the present PM ( Lee Hsien Loong, from 12 August 2004 to present, 5762 days ), or the previous ones, Goh Chok Tong ( retired on 12 August 2004,  5006 days term ) ; the first PM, Lee Kuan Yew ( June 5, 1959 to 28 November 1990,  11499 days ). They never fell below 70℅ .

          Significant to note is the fact that women make up 29℅ of the elected 93 seats. Out of the 40 women contested 27 won, the highest ever. In 2005 there were 21 women parliamentarians.

          2020  Election outcome possibly spells the beginning of a wave of Change. Youth all over the World want change and the same had possibly made its power felt (although in a small measure ) in Singapore Elections also.

          Enthusiastic youth will probably be eager to look beyond Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and India and set their eyes on the entire world in future.

          Results of 2020 Elections are seen as a representation of this impact.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Saturday, July 18, 2020 – 11.49 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change “.  –  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

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