Several Singaporeans have expressed their desire to see the Workers’ Party (WP) return to Parliament with a stronger mandate, in the hours after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for an election. President Halimah Yacob dissolved Parliament on 23 June, in anticipation of the 2020 General Election, which will be held on 10 July.
The WP was the only elected opposition party in Parliament in its last term, holding a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and a Single-Member Constituency (SMC) with six elected Members of Parliament (MPs). It is also represented by three Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs).
WP chief Pritam Singh shared a photo of the party’s nine representatives in the last term of Parliament on Facebook moments after PM Lee announced that the nation would be going to the polls in a matter of days. He captioned the photo: “Parliament dissolved: It was our privilege to serve you. Until we meet again. #walkingwithSG”
The photo quickly accumulated thousands of likes, loves and heart emojis on Facebook. Singaporeans responding to the picture thanked the WP for their years of service and expressed their wish to see the party receive a stronger mandate in the impending election:
The WP was founded in 1957 by Mr David Marshall, who had been the country’s first Chief Minister. The party made history in 1981 when Mr J.B. Jeyaretnam became the first opposition candidate to be elected to Parliament in post-independence Singapore.
In 1991, Mr Low Thia Khiang was elected MP for Hougang SMC and became the WP’s Secretary-General shortly thereafter. Mr Low successfully defended Hougang SMC in the 1997, 2001 and 2006 elections.
And 20 years after he was first elected in Hougang, he left the single-member ward to lead a team to contest in Aljunied GRC. The WP won both Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC, becoming the first opposition party in Singapore’s history to win a GRC.
The WP also won the Punggol East SMC by-election in 2013, adding another MP to its slate of elected parliamentarians.
The WP went on to contest 10 wards in the 2015 General Election, which was held in the year that celebrated Singapore’s 50th year of independence. The election, which was held mere months after founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passed away, saw the People’s Action Party (PAP) do better than it did in the watershed 2011 General Election.
The swing of votes towards the PAP saw the WP lose Punggol East SMC. The opposition party barely held on to Aljunied GRC, with 50.95 per cent of the vote compared to 54.71 per cent in the previous election. It also retained Hougang with a lower vote share of 57.7 per cent, compared to 62.1 per cent in a by-election in 2012.
While it contested 10 wards in the last election, the WP is said to be planning to stand in only five wards this time. It reportedly has its sights set on East Coast GRC, Marine Parade GRC and the new Sengkang GRC, on top of plans to defend its Aljunied-Hougang stronghold.