The Workers’ Party (WP) made history in the 2011 general election when it won Aljunied GRC, becoming the very first opposition party to win a multi-member ward in Singapore’s history. The WP team ousted PAP heavyweight George Yeo, who had been the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and denied new candidate Ong Ye Kung the chance of joining Parliament in 2011.
Mr Ong was eventually moved to “safer” grounds at Sembawang GRC and was elected into Parliament in the 2015 general election. Mr Yeo briefly considered running for the presidency but did not do so and has stayed away from politics since his defeat at the polls in 2011.
After the WP won Aljunied GRC, Mr Chong came up with a plan. He told the Straits Times that he would assemble a team of veteran MPs, including beloved ex-MP Inderjit Singh, to win back the ward for the PAP at the 2015 general election.
Explaining his proposal in an interview published yesterday (11 July), he said: “I thought we should go out and make a concerted effort to try and win it back. We have to get a few of the non-conformist sort. These fellows voted opposition, so obviously they don’t want pro-establishment people.”
Mr Chong proposed his plan to PAP leaders but was turned down. Sharing that he does not know why his plan for Aljunied GRC was rejected, he speculated, “My personal view is that there must be a healthy opposition. But it is not within the purview of the ruling party to nurture the opposition, for goodness sake.”
The WP was re-elected at Aljunied GRC in the 2015 election and again, with its strongest mandate yet, in the 2020 election. Mr Chong, meanwhile, was sent to Punggol East SMC – a single member ward held by the WP – and narrowly wrested the ward back for the PAP in the 2015 election, with just over 51 per cent of the vote.
The WP, however, regained control of the ward in the 2020 election – which was the first election in over three decades that Mr Chong did not contest. Mr Chong’s Punggol-East SMC was absorbed into the new Sengkang GRC ahead of the 2020 general election.
In a stunning upset, the WP team at Sengkang GRC won and unseated three political office-holders. The four-member ward was contested by three fresh faces – Jamus Lim, Raeesah Khan and Louis Chua – and one candidate who had run in one previous election, He Ting Ru, from the WP ticket.
The PAP team that ran in the ward included Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and labour chief Ng Chee Meng, Senior Minister of State Lam Pin Min, beloved grassroots MP Amrin Amin and fresh face Raymond Lye.
The opposition pulled off what seemed like an impossible feat when the WP team emerged the victor at the polls, ousting Mr Ng, Mr Lam and Mr Amrin from Parliament. The defeat reportedly put the PAP’s succession plans in disarray since Mr Ng was a prominent fourth-generation minister.