Post elections there has been a lot of talk of a swing towards the ruling PAP. Indeed there was in certain areas but in wards where the Worker’s Party was contesting – there was just a minimal swing. Many people were wondering how come the WP attracted such large crowds yet were unable to gain more seats. Loyal PAP mouthpiece The New Paper were at pains to highlight the sterling work on the ground by activists, RC members and Charles Chong in Punggol East that secured a comeback victory. But they chose to ignore ‘the elephant in the room.’ What was that elephant? Read on:
1) The Punggol East Elephant.
We can argue and talk of Town Councils, swings and walking the ground but we cannot escape from the ‘elephant.’ It’s so obvious – so what’s this ‘elephant’ that TNP omitted – yes, it’s the facts and figures. Let’s examine them:
In the 2013 by-election, the results were as follows:
Registered voters: 31,659
Lee Li Lian – 16,045
Dr Koh – 12,875
Others – 521
Pay very close attention to turnout because this is the number of voters who will be registered for the next elections – the 1,800 who did not vote will be struck of the list unless they re-register and pay the $50 fee. Very few will do so. Even from this turnout, the numbers can increase or decrease slightly depending on the number of deaths and new voters turning 21. But the figures will be minimal – maximum we can add is say 300 – 500. Therefore in the 2015 GE, we should expect the number of registered voters to be squarely at 30,000 +/- a few hundred. If the PAP as TNP said did so much good work on the ground, we should expect a huge swing to them and against the WP, right? Let’s see what happened:
In 2015 GE, the results were as follows:
Registered voters: 34, 466
Lee Li Lian – 15, 801
Charles Chong – 16, 957.
The number of new voters in this ward increased by 4,607. But we will only take the turnout figures – 33,137 – 29,859 = 3,278.
2) How many votes did WP lose/PAP gain in PE?
Lee Li Lian polled 16,045 in 2013 and 15,801 in this elections. How many votes did she lose?
Yes she lost just 244 votes! Even if we add the votes for the other 2 candidates – 521 + 244 = 765. A total swing of just 2%.
So in other words if there was a swing to the PAP, the swing should be 2% right? The PAP polled 12,875 in 2013 and garnered 16,957 this time, an increase of .4,082 votes and a swing of 12%.
So where did this extra votes come from? Who are these people? If Lee Li Lian did such a terrible job, surely you’d expect her to lose lots of votes. And we can expect swing voters (not aligned to any preference) to switch back and forth. Yet the swing against her was just 2% (that too if we add the votes of KJ and Desmond). If we just take her own vote count she lost less than 1% – 244 votes.
3) Can it Be Such a Coincidence?
4,607 new voters entered the rolls of which 3,278 voted. Can it be such a coincidence that virtually all of them voted for the PAP? Was there really a swing against the WP. Let’s look at a real swing – where voters abandon 1 party for the other – in this case Potong Pasir.
In 2011 the results were as follows:
Sitoh Yipin – 7,992
Lina Chiam – 7,878
Majority – 114
In 2015, the results were
Turnout: 16,158 (an increase of 46)
Sitoh Yipin – 10,581
Lina Chiam – 5,353
Majority – 5,228
Sitoh gained 2,589 votes. Lina lost 2,525 votes. Sitoh actually gained that 2,525 that Lina lost plus another 64 which we can attribute to that increase of 46 in the turnout and lesser rejected votes. The swing was 16% to the PAP. But the facts and figures justify this. Can the same be said for Punggol East.
4) The Punggol East Fix.
Without that increase of 3,278 votes, there was no way that Lee Li Lian would have lost. Her figures went down by 244. Plus and minus the increase in voters vs deaths and absenteeism, an increase in an SMC’s figures should not cross more than 1 to 2% as Potong Pasir demonstrates. Even if we give all the votes KJ and Desmond got to Charles Chong and add a marginal normal increase in electors, you would only expect the PAP’s totals to increase by 1,000 to 2,000.
Yet so much new voters were added to ensure a swing of over 10%. 1 doesn’t need to be rocket scientist to figure out where the bulk of these new citizens hail from. Anyone living in Sengkang (Punggol East is actually in Sengkang), will know there’s a considerable influx of new citizens from India and the Philippines in particular. And you can easily guess whom they will vote for.
So it’s all fine and dandy to say they walked the ground and the Town Council issue affected voters. I’m sure it did, but I don’t think it would have been such a telling issue to swing 12% voters from 1 party to the other. If so it would reflect the Potong Pasir result – where the PAP gain came directly from the SPP loss.
So Punggol East residents – this result is for you. A result to ensure that whenever you choose somebody else, the state resources will come to play to make sure that your choice can be overturned with new arrivals who will negate/overturn your choice. Free and fair vote? Punngol East sends a chilling message to all Singaporeans – take your vote lightly – well good, don’t complain, when someone from afar comes to make a serious determination on your future and choice. In further posts, I’ll give examples of how well the fix was made against the WP in other areas.