On polling day, I was only sure of 2 things - Hougang will be won by WP and there is a vote swing against the PAP. As a Singaporean voter, I have learned not to expect surprises especially surprises in favor of the opposition. But still a tsunami type results like the one we saw in Malaysia was a possibility because you cannot guess what goes on in the mind of voters. There was also a fear of a 86-1 result in spite of a vote swing against the PAP because of the averaging effects of the GRCs.
I was estatic when I heard that WP has won in Aljunied. I shouted "Workers Party!" from my apartment and a few voices in the neighborhood joined me. There was great joy and a bit of relief - a WP loss there would have been disastrous for Singapore when overall votes have swung against the PAP. I would even argue that it would be bad for the PAP because they will not be able to find impetus for policy adjustment as dissatisfaction rises among the populace if they had a clean sweep of the GRCs. If there is any good leadership left in the PAP, they will use this defeat to make changes to prevent a more precarious situation for themselves in the next election. It is also heartening to know that when it is critical to do so, most Singaporeans will overcome their self-interest of estate upgrading and do the right thing for Singapore. The breakthrough by WP pave the way for greater things for the opposition..it is like breaking the "4 minute mile" once the first team does it, many more will come forward to try knowing it is possible. The WP has to be saluted for running a well coordinated, inspiring and passionate campaign touching the hearts of many Singaporeans.
I'm very disappointed that there were so many close contests that were lost by the opposition. In particular Joo Chiat SMC and Potong Pasir SMC where the results were close. There were also a number of GRCs won by the PAP with results in the ballpark 54% to 60% of the votes. Those would have produced many seats for the opposition if not for the GRC system that averaged the votes in those areas. These GRCs include East Coast GRC, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Marine Parade GRC. I'm very sad Chiam See Tong lost his gamble to move to Bishan-Toa Payoh. He has won our hearts with his perseverance - despite his stroke, he has continued to fight for Singaporeans. Singaporeans will always remember what he has done to keep the hope of democracy alive in Singapore.
Today's Straits Times reported a 6.5% vote swing against the PAP with its vote share dipping to 60.1%. This is not the correct way to look at the support swing. The opposition contested in almost all constituencies including strongholds that were not contested in the previous election. If you look at only areas that were contested in both 2006 and 2011, we see about 10% swing against the PAP e.g. East Coast GRC. The surprising result was in Marine Parade where Nicole Seah's team garnered 43.4% vs SM Goh's 56%. Marine Parade has not been contested for a long time. Many years ago, SM Goh would win by 70+% of the votes. If you discount the voters, probably 5-10%, who disagree with PAP policies but still voted for them due to the upgrading carrot, I think the % of voters who don't support PAP polices is roughly 45-50%.
Overall, the outcome is something that the opposition can build on to move the Singapore govt towards more balanced policies that will prioritise benefits for Singaporeans. The vote swing hopefully will be a wakeup call for the PAP to start a process of reform within itself and make significant changes to CPF, public housing, healthcare, transport and address the problem of rising income gap. I'm not certain if the PAP will do that or just fall back to its "business as usual" mode...it will be a big mistake for them to ignore the clear signal that has been sent. One thing that has become apparent during this election is the flaws of the GRC system which resulted in weak candidates like Tin Pei Ling getting into parliament while voters in Aljunied had to undertake the very painful task of voting out of a fairly popular George Yeo so that Singapore has a strong opposition voice in parliament. The GRC system imposes such choices on the electorate and produces results that the electorate does not want. I think many see the need to remake the system limiting it to fewer seats (2?) or dismantling it all together.
I thank the passionate people in the opposition who stepped forward to put up such a strong fight with limited resources on an unlevel political playing field. Their grit and determination inspires all of us to continue to press on to make this country a better place for all Singaporeans.