Singapore’s election revives ruling party fortunes

13 September 2015

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – More than 2 million voters, 94% of all registered electors, voted in Singapore last Friday. As many analysts predicted, the People’s Action Party (PAP) won a landslide victory. PAP has ruled Singapore for half a century with track record of clean and efficient government, developing Singapore from a third world to first world country in this short period of time.
There was a remarkable swing in votes towards the PAP. In the 2011 watershed election, the PAP secured only 60 percent of total popular votes. Last Friday’s election showed an increase of about 10% of votes for the PAP. The ruling party received nearly 70% of the total votes, translating into 83 of the 89 seats. This was PAP’s best performance since the 2001 election when it received 75.3% of total votes. Key election issues concentrated around rising living costs, housing, public transport, migration policy, and freedom of expression.  The opposition parties have long criticized the government for failing to effectively handle these issues. The opposition parties have strived to promote a better balance of power and views in the legislative.
Since 2008, the government stewarded by the PAP implemented a more progressive socio-economic reform policy by introducing a more inclusive growth model and social welfare programs such as public housing, education, and healthcare. And the outcome of the 2011 elections created an impetus to speed up social welfare related policies.
PAP’s election strategy 
Speaking at the SG50 National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee stressed three main policy issues that his government is going to implement after the election: education and skills development, housing, and population. These policies are designed in response to new realities in Singapore and criticism raised by the opposition parties.
“Singapore is at a turning point,” PM Lee stated. “You will be deciding who is governing Singapore for the next five years. But more than that, you will be choosing the team who will be working with you for the next 15-20 years.  You will be setting the direction for Singapore for the next 50 years. You will be determining the future for Singapore.”
A day after his National Day rally speech, PM Lee called for a lightning election. The timing could not have been better as it capitalized on Singapore’s celebration of its 50th years of independence last month and the passing of the founding father of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, in March. These two events significantly encouraged Singaporeans to reflect and to appreciate the achievements of Singapore in the last 50 years under the leadership of the PAP.
What does it tell us? 
The election result reflects high trust and confidence of Singaporeans on the ruling PAP. It also strengthens trust among investors and partners of Singapore. However, it does not mean that the PAP should ignore the voices of those who voted for the opposition parties. Singapore needs to continue encouraging and promoting diversity of views.
Although Singaporean identity is getting stronger as a united, multi-racial, multi-religious society, it remains vulnerable to external and internal changes. Singaporean society has rapidly transformed and has become more demanding of inclusive development, social justice, and freedom of expression.
Huge tasks await PAP. The core issues facing PAP are how to maintain public trust and confidence in the government through realizing its promises, how Singapore can continue to survive and prosper in a complex and dynamic region full of competition and uncertainty, and how Singapore will remain the “bright little red spot” on the international stage.
“I’d like to remind all my newly elected MPs that you’re elected to serve the people, that this mandate means that you have to work extra hard to serve, because we are trustees and stewards,” stated PM Lee.

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