Lee Li Lian, the candidate from the Workers’ Party, clinched a decisive victory in the by-election polls over the People Action’s Party Koh Poh Koon, the candidate whose campaign had labelled him a “son of Punggol”.
The race had been predicted as a close one, but Lee, a sales trainer, won with a comfortable 54.52% of the vote, a 13.52% increase from her vote share in the 2011 General Election, while colorectal surgeon Koh garnered 43.71% of the vote. Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party and Desmond Lim of the Singapore Democratic Alliance received 1.2% and 0.57% respectively, thus losing out on their S$14,500 (approx. USD11,730) deposits.
The results have disproved theories that a multi-cornered fight would give the upper hand to the PAP, and has gained the WP yet another seat in Parliament. The WP now has 7 seats, while the PAP has 80.
It’s a sign that Singaporeans are now looking to have more opposition voices in Parliament, and the WP is in the best position to pick up support from voters looking for an alternative. The other parties have yet to garner the same amount of support – and votes – as the WP.
As a politician, Lee has often highlighted the challenges faced by young families in Singapore, especially the difficulties for single parents. Her election has not only increased the representation of women in Parliament, but will hopefully provide a voice for an issue in need of further discussion and debate.
In his statement, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he would “respect the choice of Punggol East voters”. Congratulating Lee, he also praised Koh for showing “character and courage”.
The end of the by-election and the election of yet another opposition candidate might now draw the focus back to the AIM saga, where the contract for the financial software system was terminated in Aljunied-Hougang Town Council after the WP took over. PM Lee has called for a review of the issue – a move not without its own controversy – but more questions are likely to surface if the contract is now terminated in Punggol East as well.