SINGAPORE, Sept 12 : Brilliantly planned timing and the cooling-off period are among factors which led to the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) making a landslide victory in the 2015 General Election (GE), says academician Ong Keng Yong.
Ong is executive deputy chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
PAP retained power in Singapore’s keenly contested general election Friday, winning 83 of 89 parliamentary seats while garnering 69.86 per cent of the popular vote, a 10 per cent point improvement.
“The timing of this GE is very brilliantly planned. I didn’t know whether Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong) and his team know that it will be to their absolute advantage, or not.
“But as it turned out now, timing is a key factor, firstly because the people are in SG50 (Singapore 50 years anniversary) mood,” he told Bernama today.
He noted the fact that people felt the regional and global economy was not doing well, and there was a need for strong government leadership, which was also a factor.
Ong pointed out another most important tactical advantage was the cooling-off period on Thursday.
“The cooling-off period made a huge difference because after huge rally campaigns preceeding one week, people sit and can think through the issues and two or three things come out of their mind,” he said.
Cooling-off Day is a day when campaigning is disallowed and election advertising must not be published or displayed.
This 24-hour campaign silence period is to let voters reflect rationally on various issues raised at an election before going to the polls.
Thousands of people attended the nine-day rallies organised by opposition parties which were seen as if they would definitely vote against the government but when the final results came, they voted for the PAP.
During the campaign, the opposition was reported to have raised various issues and sometimes, belittled the government of its policies such as housing, health and immigration issues.
“Yes, PAP Government may not be very compassionate, not very caring, not very people-oriented but the fact the Singapore economy has grown better than the past, when people sit back after listening to the emotional things said (by the opposition), they think through, who is going to be the clever driver of the bus to drive us through all these problems?,” asked Ong.
He said the PAP’s response was well calculated.
“They were in the defensive because the oposition has been whacking them on all these issue, so what they have done is to respond in clinical fashion.
“PAP says to voters, ‘I know I have not been that good to you, but this is what I have done for the past four years, I will change and do better’,” explained Ong.
Noting the messages of Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Lee during the rally before polling day, he said “so people start to think during the cooling-off period, yeah! who is the best captain to bring us through this difficult period (for instance) when the regional and global economy are down, etc., etc.
In Friday’s GE, PAP received over 70 per cent of the vote share in 15 out of the 29 electoral divisions with Jurong group representation constituency (GRC) (79.28 per cent), Ang Mo Kio GRC (78.63 per cent) and West Coast GRC (78.57 per cent) being the top three performers.
This is despite many analysts earlier predicting that PAP would face the most challenging time in history and may be defeated, with more seats going to the opposition in this GE…
The ruling party also recaptured Punggol East single member constituency (SMC).
This was the 17th general election for Singapore and the 12th since the country’s independence in 1965.
It was also the first general election after the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in March.
A total of 2,304,331 votes were cast in Singapore (inclusive of 47,315 rejected votes).
This made up 93.56 per cent of the 2,462,926 registered electors. – Bernama