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Post-mortem of Hougang by-election: PAP continues to lose ground in the HDB heartland to WP

Posted by temasektimes on May 27, 2012

Speaking to reporters after the result of the by-election in Hougang was announced last night, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the result does not reflect the whole of Singapore.

His statement reflects a growing disconnect between senior PAP leaders and the native Singaporeans living in the HDB heartland.

Given the Yaw Shin Leong sex scandal, the quality of its candidate and persistent negative publicity about party disunity in the media for the last two weeks, the PAP candidate Desmond Choo should have garnered more votes than just a 145 vote increase from his share last year.

The two percent drop in WP’s votes is due more to a decrease in the voter turnout (23,176 in 2011 versus 21,951) rather than an increase in support for the PAP.

The number of voters in Hougang actually dropped by 1,000 odd after two blocks of flats went enbloc and were demolished. These voters are traditionally WP supporters.

Coupled with the last-minute announcement of the by-election and the fact that polling day is not a public holiday, the PAP has made little, if any headway in Hougang.

The result of the by-election offers three somber lessons for the PAP:

1. Regardless of the candidate it fields, it is unlikely to make any progress in wards held by the Workers Party.

2. Voters in WP ward identified themselves strongly with the party and not the candidate.

3. Past tried and tested tactics such as character-assassination and smear campaigns via the media no longer work.

Hougang is a microcosm of Singapore society with most of the voters being working class Singaporeans living in the HDB heartland and the group which is most affected by the government’s policies in recent years especially its immigration and labor policies.

The PAP’s attempts to portray the by-election has a local affair has backfired because conditions on the ground have improved little in the past one year despite the Prime Minister’s assertion that ‘progress’ has been made to tackle the pressing national issues.

As one netizen noted wryly:

“Everytime I took the SMRT train in the morning, I feel like casting a protest vote against the PAP.”

Unless economic conditions improve dramatically in 2016, which is unlikely, the PAP will face a tough fight in the next General Election.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Singapore Management University Professor Bridget Welsh observed:

“The mood in the country a year after the elections is not good. It’s a barometer of how the government has performed in the past year. The foreigners are becoming the punching bag.”

The result of the by-election shows that WP has not only managed to keep its core support base, but to expand it as well. While some Singaporeans are still skeptical of the WP, they are more angry with the government and are willing to turn a blind eye to its inadequacies.

Going by current trends, the PAP will continue to lose ground in the HDB heartlands to the Workers Party which enjoys genuine support from Singaporeans from all walks of life.

The PAP should not be complacent that it still has support among 60% of the population. As a matter of fact, in straight PAP versus WP contests last year, its support level is only 53% as compared to WP’s 47%. This means that if WP is able to contest in every single constituency in the next General Election, it will stand a fighting chance of booting the PAP out of office.

With its stronghold of Hougang secure, the Workers Party is well positioned to expand into neighboring constituencies in the next election for the following reasons:

1. The PAP team for Aljunied has entirely been dismantled with the departure of senior figures like George Yeo, Lim Hwee Hwa, Zainal Abidin and Cynthia Phua. It will not be easy for rookie Ong Ye Kung to lead the charge against the WP’s ‘A’ team in 2016.

2. The PAP won Joo Chiat SMC by only 100 plus votes and with its MP Charles Chong likely to retire by then (he would be 62), it presents an opportunity for WP NCMP Yee Jenn Jong to capture the ward if he contests there again.

3. Mr Lim Swee Say, the only minister in East Coast GRC will be 63 years old by the next election and is likely to retire. There will be no heavyweight ministers to helm the GRC and it will not be an impossible task for WP to capture the GRC with a mere 6 percent swing in votes needed. (Aljunied GRC swung 9 percent to WP in 2011)

4. Senior ministers will be stepping down from Tampines and Marine Parade GRCs which the PAP performed badly against ‘weaker’ opposition parties and the young ministers may not be able to hold the fort against WP veterans if they contest there.

5. Lastly, but most importantly, HDB prices will not drop to the 1990 levels, wages will not double and the quality of life is not going to improve by much in 2016, meaning that public discontent and disaffection against the PAP is only going to grow with time.

The Workers Party has become a premium brand name in Singapore politics. Even its weaker candidates were able to garner a minimum of 42% of the votes in the 2011 General Election.

It is time the PAP wakes up and start taking the Workers Party seriously as a potential rival instead of dismissing it as yet another opposition party or it will be in for more rude shocks in the rocky journey ahead.



40 Responses to “Post-mortem of Hougang by-election: PAP continues to lose ground in the HDB heartland to WP”

  1. P Koh said

    The result of this by-election is definitely a wake-up call for the ruling party. Nothing short of a change in policies on how the country is to be governed will do if the PAP government wants to maintain its grip of governship. Even intellects are speaking up openly on their discontentment over issues of ministers’ salaries, influx of FTs and the social problems that have been created and the cost of living especially the unbated rises in housing and COE prices, the unpopular popping up of ERP gantries in the most ridiculous areas and putting up the wrong people to run the important infrastructures like the SMRT. There are therefore plenty to do and hopefully given the breathing space of another 4 years, these problematic issues can be resolved as best as possible in order to regain some sanity in the way our beloved Country is run.

  2. samkhew said

    “WP” 万岁!!!万岁!!!万万岁!!!
    “PAP” 去睡!!!去睡!!!去碎碎!!!

    • Hougang Huat Arh !!! said

      “WP” 万岁!!!万岁!!!万万岁!!!
      “PAP” 万衰!!!去衰!!!万万衰!!!

      * in cantonese *

  3. Over-Imagination! said

    Don’t worry lah! WP is not a threat to PAP. You are making a mountain out of a tiny molehill in Hougang.

    PAP sure win one! Don’t worry lah! Don’t worry lah! LOL!

    • Zam said

      Dont dream too much…More youngsters will be eligible for voting in the GE 2016. They will all vote for opposition. Wait and See.

  4. Anonymous said

    The concern is that if the PAP don’t fundamentally change and put its citizen in front, workers party will just continue to attract better and better candidates into its fold. Then on an even fight with the workers party as under dog, its highly likely that they will win

  5. Ken toong said

    WP will turn Singapore into a Banana Republic

  6. teo chee bye said

    It’s not time for the PAP to wake up. It has always been doing a disservice to native Singaporeans – paying themselves obscenely and making native Singaporeans a fool. The hate for this fuck shit PAP will never subside and will culminate to one when those fuck shits and their dogs stand before a firing squad.


    Fantastic authentic analyst and report.

  8. Singaporean said

    PAP has not learn from their past mistakes
    Challenging LTK to fight him in court makes
    TCH look like a sore loser.
    Desmond Choo would have garner more votes
    If the ruling party’s heavy weight had not join
    In the husting with blazing machine guns.
    PAP’s chairman makes the first mistake by
    trying to project the WP as a fragmented party
    with MPs likely to resign or be forced out in disgrace.
    This was roundedly rebuked by Pritam Singh
    Next TCH came out pouncing on the NCMP
    Selection process.
    This turn the WP from being an incumbent
    party to become an under dog.

    Sympathy votes from those undecided swing
    Behind the WP.

  9. alex said

    This results show its Peoples against PAP not PAP against Workers Party. If not because of the 1000 odds people of WP supporters who had move out im sure PAP will lose more.

  10. Media Mole said

    Ya rignt, despite Temasek Times joining the MSM and the PAP in the smearing campaign against WP, the PAP only won by a mere 145 votes.

    This shows the Temasek Times is disconnected with the ground, the people.

    And now that PAP has lost, TT acted like nothing had happened and slowly switch side.

    • blur sotong said

      Ha Ha… well said ! TT really did itself and the party behind it a disservice by what they did in this by-election.

  11. Crook said

    every time I see TCH speaks on TV, I am ever more determined to vote against the PAP.

    • Big AL said

      yes…terrible politician…he projects arrogance and smugness and the PAP doesn’t even realise it. He hurt Desmond Choo more than he helped.

    • HantuSing said

      TCH this man I had respect before, TCH this man I have nothing but disrespect, derision, disparagement, distaste, scornful, repulsion and absolute disgust now

  12. Cancer said

    The next generation of young Singaporeans will be eligible to vote in GE 2016. The PAP govt has to take stock of its current inadequacies & policies especially the immigration policy, rising property prices & cost of living. My children, nephews & nieces will be the next generation of voters and surprisingly they are not happy with the current state of affairs as they are worried about the competition from foreigners, securing reasonable paid jobs & the inability of buying an HBD flat or apartments with the ever rising property prices. My nephew who is studying medicine in Sydney told me that he will not be enticed to come back to Singapore as foreign doctors enjoy better pay package! I was once a PAP supporter too…. but not now as many of the great ministers have lost touch with the people.

    • Blood suckers said

      So you were the 60% that made the past one year even more unbearable for Singaporeans to live.

      Can you convert more of these people? Let those who are blind and let light shine brightly. Show them that their stupidity votes to PAP is killing off our kids.

      • Singaporean said

        GE 2016 – success of the PAP depends on how well the lives of Singaporeans have improved. If PAP think it can push out all the carrots in 2015 and 2016, they will be sorely disappointed. Everyday, the lives of Singaporeans depend on the policies that are made. If PAP has the sincerity to listen to its people, work on their shortcomings now and progressively over time to win Singaporeans back. Get your healthcare right. Get your housing right. You have to act decisively about HDB’s prices. Can’t let them spiral out of hand. When foreigners look at the type of pricing we have for PUBLIC HOUSING, it’s jaw-dropping unbelievable. Get your schools right. When the rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer and they will vote against the ruling party. All the lessons of “Occupy” is there for the PAP to learn.

    • Zam said

      Well said…Hope all our young generation votes vote against PAP in GE 2016

  13. Jacob said

    Announce this early? See how the boundaries change and how many new flats for New Citizens will be built there. WP better keep up this impression and then target another GRC in Singapore.

  14. Michael Chus said

    May I also add that WP win even despite Temasek Times bias reporting that was unfavorable to the WP.

    Readers can easily look back at Temasek Times articles to find out.

    • Blood suckers said

      Agree. And now TT acts blur and say negative things to PAP.

      Now this is flip flop

      • hougang said

        TT: Why don’t you link your blogs on the Hougang by-elections to all your previous posts like what you did earlier? This way everyone will have the chance to appreciate your skillful writing again. Oh ya, please put up the picture of DC with the Granny again. I would like to reminisce.

  15. CBMAN said

    Why threaten WP with all sorts of petty little things? DPM some more! It is a shame! If he kept quiet Desmond himself would have done a better charming job. Remember a senior minister threatened Aljunied with property value issue? They are really out of touch with the ground feeling. Now threatening again to challenge WP to sue? Why use this method? Are we in the 1960s?

    Nothing has changed since last year. In fact things has got worsened with inflation (they did NOTHING!!), insisting on immigration because of the economy. I bet PAP will lose more share next GE.

    • Hougang Huat Arh !!! said

      nebermind wat the pap did since last ge, its even more better that they do nothing….. i can’t wait to see the next ge, that wp takes even more grc…..

  16. Descended said

    TCH is not an attractive candidate as a possible future PM.Now thats a liabilty,

    • ---- said

      Why can’t we do away with the GRC thingy? Singapore is already so small and need to further divide it? Who decides the GRC thing? The ppl or govt?

    • Mr K said

      That is also a main possibility….I think BOTH DPM Teo Chee Hean and Teo Ser Luck may deserve a great fight with the WP in Pasir Ris-Punggol as they had also targetted BOTH Sengkang West and Punggol East….Either Lee Li Lian or Gerald Giam MIGHT lead the Pasir Ris team too…..Maybe Lee Yi Shyan and his East Coast team may be losing control in 2016 too,even great chance of Joo Chiat to fall under WP then…..Tampines is yet another and so do Marine Parade….Yup,Tampines might be contested by WP as its closest prox to BOTH Aljunied and Hougang,and so DO Pasir Ris,and who might lead Tampines WP team other than Png Eng Huat(HUAT AH!!!)But I think WP wont be going there(Marine Parade) as NSP’s been keen along with the nearest Mountbatten too…..As for Ong Ye Kung,I dun think also that he’ll remain there,and instead move over to challenge SPP in Bishan-Toa Payoh with Dr Ng or eventually posted to AMK soon against SDP/NSP…..NSP meanwhile would take on BOTH AMK and also Moulmein too while SDP may focus on Tanjong Pagar too…Main possibility is that NSP to field in NSP president and his bravo,all star veteran,dream,suicide team along with Ivan Yeo,Yip Yew Weng and Reno Fong to challenge PM Lee there,Nicole Seah to lead Marine Parade team after Cheo Chai Chen and Hazel and Tony to take on Lui in Moulmein GRC(Jalan Besar is the proper name) thus ensuring a thumping victory in the supposingly battlefield while Dr Chee himself or initially Dr Gomez or Dr Wijeysingha to challenge the future DPM Chan,the vocal lawyer-backbencher,a fresh lady for Chinatown,LKY’s replacement and a last-minute doctor there,thus giving the whole TP(Tanjong Pagar) or to be exact Buona Vista a very first challenge….There might be no surprise if TP might be either lose to SDP or initially given around the same score as either Marine Parade(56.7%)or Bishan-TP(56.9/57%)OR most likely to be 60%,the same score as Holland-BT’s…….Meanwhile SDP might stage a comeback in Jurong as they had taken Jurong East too,so do Nee Soon,Bukit Panjang,Sembawang and also to be exact the neighbouring Buona Vista and Tanjong Pagar areas,as it might be likely the SDP conquest strategy…..Reform meanwhile may take on 2 GRCs and 3 SMCs in the Western front of West Coast and CCK GRCs,Radin Mas,Hong Kah and also Pioneer……
      Meanwhile it’s the most possiblity that WP might remain in BOTH Aljunied and Hougang GRC as well as a mighty sweep in East Coast and Bedok areas and also Joo Chiat..And if possible might win Punggol East and a narrow margin in Sengkang West as well as over 45% goal in Tampines and also a hope to give PAP’s Pasir Ris team a drop from 64% over down to below 60%….Reform might take ONLY Pioneer as Kenneth J might have score big and is well-recognised there as well as an improvement for Reform West Coast team from 35 over to 40% at least…..NSP meanwhile to win BOTH Moulmein and Marine Parade GRCs as well as Mountbatten while the NSP AMK team might do quite a good job bring PM Lee’s team down from 69 over to around 63%….And as I said earlier,SDP might either win TP or eventually to give PAP at least 60% or below IF there’s someone even bigger potential to move on and even win Holland-BT,Jurong to bring down to 62% for the PAP,Sembawang for the good score of 42% for the SDP with possibly Alec Tok to lead,and SDP youth team in Nee Soon to get over with 40% or even higher,thus giving Yishun town in danger zone….It’s a wonder SPP might take on BOTH certain areas of Bishan and PP,NSP to move on half of Southeast and most of the Central,even Moulmein which is the highest possibilty,WP to move on most of the Eastern areas besides BOTH Aljunied and Hougang,SDP to move on the Northern areas,and also half of the Western parts including partial Central areas that might include Shenton Way,Orchard Rd,Chinatown and also Holland V,and Reform to take on almost all of the Western parts even MOST of the Southwest even their forte:West Coast…..

      • Henry said

        If this crystal ball gazing is indeed viable … then the next gour years will be very interesting to watch …

  17. None said

    Wow .. this is the first objective article (and a pretty good damn analysis too, never knew about the 2 blocks of flats that were demolished) about WP I’ve seen by Temasek Times. Wonder what’s changed ??? … and for how long ??? Hmm .. how come I’ve a feeling this won’t last long and TT will continue to be anti-WP,anti-immigration, anti-MRT for a long time to come …


    1000 people? sway the votes? are you joking? even an idiot with some basic skills in logic and statistics will tell you that that is nonsense. If you already have a population statistic, taking data from a smaller sample of the population will just serve to reaffirm the population statistics.
    It’s like saying you mix a cup of milo and based on the final product; the whole cup, you say that it comprises of 40% milo and 60% water. Now you take out ONE portion of the cup, let’s say 20ml, and you say that it is comprises of only milo and would have swayed the milo composition. It won’t. Temasek Times, get your facts right. You want to show support for WP, i salute you. But don’t put up whimsical arguments that if anything just sully your….oh wait, your credibility is already shit. If anything don’t say anything about the WP because i’m sure they won’t need this joke of a website to show them support.

  19. Mr K said

    You might ever think WP could field in most of the candidates…..But in the end who might get over before them….???SDP…..
    Because,take a closer look down there….
    SDP-24-26 candidates in 5 GRCs and 2 in 2 SMCs(Jurong,Sembawang,Nee Soon,Holland-BT,Tanjong Pagar/Buona Vista,Jurong East,Bukit Panjang)
    WP-22-23 candidates in 4 GRCs and 4 SMCs(Tampines,Aljunied,Pasir Ris-Punggol,East Coast/Bedok,Joo Chiat,Hougang,Sengkang West,Punggol East)
    NSP-16-17 candidates in 3 GRCs and 2 SMCs(AMK,Moulmein,Marine Parade,Mountbatten,Whampoa)
    Reform-12-13 candidates in 2 GRCs and 3 SMCs(West Coast,CCK,Pioneer,Radin Mas,Hong Kah)
    SPP-6 candidates in 1 GRC and 1 SMC(Bishan-Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir)

    • Henry said

      Currently 2012 … probably about about 100 years after Han WuTi … except this this time round LiSi has a shorter cycle. Mr K is right .. when Cao Cao and Gong Ming battled the ground Sima Yi benefited.

  20. Mr K said

    You should definitely know what the opps may achieve on by 2016…..
    Worker’s Party-Bringing forward to the strength of the new generation of Singapore!!!Including the conquest of Bedok and almost all the East!!!
    National Solidarity Party-Addressing a daily disparity from housing,bread-and-butter to transportation woes….For transportation,that would be Moulmein where the NSP might benefit on,due to its familiarity and also its HQ location in Lavender….
    Singapore Democratic Party-Towards a social-oriented Singapore…Addressing most of the social-related issues especially in Tanjong Pagar…
    Singapore People’s Party-Bringing up the spirit of Potong Pasir,especially in Bishan and Toa Payoh and also constituencies closer to them…..
    Reform Party-Working together for a better life of Singaporeans…
    With the exception of both the SDA and the Socialist to move on,I guess it’ll be even more inevitable to move on for the active opps there area by area….

  21. Mr K said

    Likewise here’s some changes ahead…..
    Worker’s Party-Most of the East:Aljunied,Hougang,Bedok,Joo Chiat,Pasir Ris,Punggol and Sengkang areas….Tossup of Tampines between WP and NSP….
    National Solidarity Party-Maybe hybridly alongside….Southeast-Marine Parade GRC and Mountbatten,Central-Moulmein and Whampoa,even AMK and West-CCK and Hong Kah North also…..Quite a tossup it seems….
    Singapore Democratic Party-Most of the North and even Central West:Sembawang,Woodlands,Bukit Panjang,Bukit Timah,Jurong East and Tanjong Pagar too….Might be also take on Jurong GRC too,but quite a tossup for Yishun between SDP and WP….Not to forget AMK too for the NSP and SDP…
    Singapore People’s Party-Likely to work on Bishan mostly as Potong Pasir might be also absorbed into the GRC come 2016!!!
    Reform Party-Likely to field in 7 candidates….To work on more to the West-West Coast GRC,Pioneer and Radin Mas….

  22. Mr K said

    Changes ahead…..
    WP-Around 28 candidates in 5 GRCs and 3-4 SMCs(Tampines,Aljunied,Pasir Ris-Punggol,East Coast/Bedok,Nee Soon,Joo Chiat,Hougang,Sengkang West,Punggol East-MAYBE Joo Chiat would be absorbed into Bedok!!!)

    NSP- 24 candidates in 4 GRCs and 3 SMCs(AMK,CCK,Moulmein,Marine Parade,Hong Kah North,Mountbatten,Whampoa)-Hybrid West,Central and East….Tossup of AMK with SDP….

    SDP-Over 20 candidates in 4 GRCs and 2 SMCs(Jurong,Sembawang,Holland-BT,Tanjong Pagar/Buona Vista,Jurong East,Bukit Panjang)

    Reform-7 only candidates in 1 GRC and 2 SMCs(West Coast,Pioneer,Radin Mas)

    SPP-5/6 candidates in 1 GRC(Bishan-Toa Payoh,as Potong Pasir may be likely to be conjoined with)

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