Singapore — After Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Monday afternoon (Dec 14) that Singapore was going to enter Phase 3 of reopening on Dec 28 and that Covid-19 vaccines would be made available to all Singaporeans by next year, journalist-turned-university professor Bertha Henson posted on Facebook: “Wah! If hold elections now, sure PAP landslide.”
If Prof Henson is right and the People’s Action Party gets a boost in people’s confidence, it would certainly be welcome, as 2020 has been a challenging year for the party.
Indeed, since Mr Lee’s announcement was good news to all Singaporeans, Prof Henson’s Facebook post, however tongue-in-cheek, was not overly surprising.
Her post must have struck a chord with many, who reacted to, commented on and shared it.
One commenter, however, wondered about the absence of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in the context of Monday’s announcement since he is expected to take over when Mr Lee steps down as indicated before his 70th birthday on Feb 10, 2022.
Indeed, if the party gains traction from Monday’s announcement, it comes at a time when it could certainly use it. While the PAP undoubtedly enjoys a supermajority that any party in any country would envy, 2020 still saw opposition parties make unprecedented gains, especially during the General Election in July.
First, the PAP won a 61.24 per cent share of the votes cast in the elections. Again, this would be a sign of great confidence in other countries. However, its share of votes this year went down from 69.86 per cent in the 2015 elections.
Moreover, 10 seats in Parliament are now occupied by opposition figures, with the Workers’ Party (WP) winning an additional Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in Sengkang.
In the biggest upset of the elections, political newbies Ms He Ting Ru, Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Ms Raeesah Khan and Mr Louis Chua were able to beat and unseat a PAP slate that included three incumbent political office-holders.
Another warning sign for the party was the poor performance of Mr Heng and his team in East Coast GRC.
The Deputy Prime Minister anchored the PAP team against a WP team led by the popular Nicole Seah and won by a very narrow margin — 53.39 per cent of votes to the WP’s 46.61 per cent. This was hardly seen as a vote of confidence for the Prime Minister-in-waiting.
But the public’s memory can be short-lived. And whether or not the PAP can translate Monday’s good news into real political capital remains to be seen. /TISG