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Thursday, July 07, 2005 

General Elections - Part II

MACPHERSON SMC (22,010 constituents)

Current MP:
Matthias Yao Chih (Stay)

Comments:
Matthias was once the promising and shining star, tipped to be one of the top Minister. But now, he has faded away from the limelight and was demoted from a Senior Minister of State to a Mayor. However, he won the previous election contest with around 80% of the votes against a DPP candidate.

Unconfirmed sources said that he didn’t have a reliable and strong bunch of grassroots leaders and led to his downfall. However, this information may not be factually correct. Fading stars always lead to an exodus of grassroots leaders who only “serve” the prolific and powerful Ministers. This may be good for the residents and himself to do away with this bunch of power and limelight hungry grassroots leaders, but it does erode his support from the ground.

With his fading status, it would be interesting to see if he still continues to run for another term or retire (even though he is not that old). He will also be the only Mayor to contest in SMC rather than a GRC like the rest of the Mayors. Thus, this will raise the issue of whether PAP is really doesn’t mind him losing or risk (a probability of 10%) losing a Mayor. Of course, after winning the last election with an 80% majority, we will not expect a 40% vote swing. He will win this ward quite comfortably but all information points to the fact that he will not feature in PAP’s long term plans.

Verdict: PAP wins 65% of the votes


MARINE PARADE GRC (140,174)
Current MPs:
Gan Lai Chiang (Leave)
Goh Chok Tong (Stay)
Mohamad Maidin B P M (Stay)
Othman Haron Eusofe (Retire)
R Ravindran (Stay)
Lim Hwee Hua (Posted elsewhere)

Comments:
With SM Goh in this GRC, opposition must have got money to burn if they contest in this ward. SM Goh is overwhelmingly popular and even if PAP puts 5 of the most unpopular MPs into his GRC, it will still be a walkover. So this will raise one question: will Lim Hwee Hua still be in this GRC?

Currently, there are two Ministers of State in this GRC, Othman and Hwee Hua. PM Lee has already announced that Othman will be retiring as the Minister of State but retains his post as the Mayor. Lim Hwee Hua, on the other hand, is tipped to be first female to be a full Minister.

Maybe in this coming election, they might introduce a new candidate and potential Minister of State into this GRC. PAP has a good history of “mentoring” Ministers and using senior Ministers to groom and teacher the ones with potential. Who could be more qualified to take on this mentoring role besides SM Goh? (I heard distance sounds calling LKY, and I heard further sounds that humans are not immortal. Age does matter.)

Verdict: Uncontested


NEE SOON CENTRAL SMC (22,975)

Current MP:
Ong Ah Heng (Stay)

Comments:
Maybe younger voters may not know who Ong Ah Heng was. Ong was the PAP branch secretary when PAP infamously lost Anson constituency to J.B. Jeyaratnam in 1981. When Devan Nair was taking over as President he has to give up his seat in Anson and call for a By-Election. Nair won the GE 1980 in Anson with an 85% majority. According to “legends”, the new PAP candidate, Pang Kim Hin, brought in this own people which led to some internal conflict between Nair’s group and Pang’s group. Ong Ah Heng (part of Nair’s group) was in the middle of this storm as the branch secretary. (For younger voters, branch secretaries are just one level below the MP in terms of political party branches at constituency levels). Of course, during then, there are some unhappiness among the residents over some lost of jobs and rumoured reallocation. Anyway, history shows that PAP lost with a massive 40% vote swing. Since then, PAP has been as edgy and xenophobic over elections until now.

Ong Ah Heng is a typical grassroots MP. He might not be those high-flying MPs blazing in parliament debates but he is very close and popular with his residents. These are the MPs that wins the ward and very tough to compete on. The last elections saw him pit against Ling How Doong, chairman of SDP. Yet, Ah Heng won more than 75% of the votes. He will be contested, but results will be an overwhelming victory for Ong Ah Heng.

Verdict: PAP wins 70% of the votes


NEE SOON EAST SMC (28,465)

Current MP:
Ho Peng Kee (Posted Elsewhere)

Comments:
Ho Peng Kee is one of the very few Ministers (Senior Minister of State) who contest in Single Member Constituencies (SMC). He is also one of the longest serving Senior Ministers of State (since 1997) and has along been in the Ministry of Law & Home Affairs. Maybe when DPM Jayakumar steps down, he will be promoted to Minister for Law. (Anyway, at aged 51 yrs old, he is still young for a Minister)

With his impending promotion, would the PAP put him into a GRC of still in a SMC? Be mindful of the fact that since the creation of GRCs, Ministers are usually in GRCs to add weight to the other unknown MPs. For this, I think he will be posted to a GRC and see a new blood in this constituency.

For the oppositions, it might be worth it to contest this seat if there is a chance he might be posted elsewhere. Who knows, a repeat of Anson 1981 might happen in this constituency. But judging how careful PAP has became, it is unlikely they would cite any advantages to the oppositions.

Verdict: PAP wins 60% of the votes


PASIR RIS-PUNGGOL GRC (134,151)

Current MPs:
Ahmad Magad (Stay)
Charles Chong (Stay)
Michael Lim (Stay)
Penny Low (Stay)
Teo Chee Hean (Stay)

Comments:
Uncontested in last elections due to the popularity of Teo Chee Hean and should be uncontested in the coming GE as well. However, this constituency has got one major event since the last elections: Buangkok NEL Station. But this is unlikely to change the situation much as PAP (very smartly) has covered both spectrum of for and against the opening of the Buangkok station.

Charles Chong petitioned to the Transport Ministry for the opening of the station and rallied the residents behind him. So if the residents want to have the station opened, Charles Chong was their man. Thus, residents who vote along this issue will still choose PAP, Charles Chong, whether they are for or against (almost zero) the opening of Buangkok NEL.

With Radm at the helm, there will be no fight. Just to see how popular he is, go look at how many people and how late his Meet-the-People (MPS) sessions opens until. According to sources, his MPS session was know to stretch until 1 or 2 am every week to accommodate the number of residents meeting him.

Verdict: Uncontested


POTONG PASIR SMC (16,616)

Current MP:
Chiam See Tong (SDA) (Stay)

Comments:
Potong Pasir is one of the very few strongholds of the opposition parties that withstood the PAP avalanche. Chiam, a seasoned opposition, narrowly won the last GE against Sitoh Yih Pin. Prior to the last elections, Chiam had a tough time against the party he founded. After helming the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) for 13 years, and leading it to success in the 1991 polls with three elected MPs, he faced the ignominy of being ousted by his own executive committee in 1993. He eventually left to form the Singapore People's Party, which he now heads. He had a bitter battle with SDP then and Dr Chee Soon Juan which he sued SDP for defamation and was awarded S$120,000. (http://www.sfdonline.org/Link%20Pages/Link%20Folders/Interviews/chee.html) That leaves a lot of questions regarding Dr Chee’s character when he ousted his mentor to take over the secretary-general position. In the present website of SDP, it has no mention of its founder and Chiam’s massive contributions to the establishment of SDP.

Anyway, Chiam, the old warhorse, has his own brand and mild-mannered ways to attract votes. He is a tireless campaigner and more importantly, considered as a mild threat by the PAP. Nonetheless, kudos to Chiam for his spirited stand against the wind (in recent years, the wind has turn into typhoon). This will be another close fight but I think, PAP will still “give” this ward to Chiam. They have their ways of “not plucking nearly ripe chikus” (a political term used by Eric Low when he contested agains Low Thia Khiang in Hougang).

Verdict: SDA wins 52% of the votes


SEMBAWANG GRC (166,137)

Current MPs:
Chin Tet Yung (Stay)
Hawazi B Daipi (Stay)
Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam (Stay)
Lee Wei Rhen Warren (Stay)
Mohd Maliki B Osman (Stay)
Tony Tan Keng Yam (Retire)

Comments:
We all know that DPM Tan will step down by the next elections. Looking at the lineup, they will not want to risk having a By-election before the next elections. If he runs for presidency, GE should be around this December or earlier next year.

DPM Tan is also another popular figure and was uncontested in the last elections. This coming elections, there will be some reshuffling in the team. I’m quite sure one of the full Ministers will come in to take over DPM Tan’s position. Two of the most likely candidates are Lim Swee Say & Ng Eng Hen. Lim Swee Say is currently in Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC which is just below Sembawang. Moving up north seems like a logical reallocation. Ng Eng Hen, who is already promoted to full Minister and took two heavy weight portfolios (Defense & Manpower), is ready to head his own GRC and will not be under the sheltered wings of Wong Kan Seng for the next GE.

Dr Maliki is likely to be promoted to Minister of State by the next GE and will be the future Minister in-charge of Muslim Affairs (presently under Yaacob Ibrahim). He is currently a Parliamentary Secretary and has been representing the Ministries for some overseas visits. Definitely, he will be promoted.

This GRC may be worth challenging depending on the new anchoring Minister coming in, but will still be won by PAP.

Verdict: PAP wins 65% of the votes


TAMPINES GRC (125,432)

Current MPs:
Mah Bow Tan (Stay)
Ng Phek Hoong Irene (Stay)
Ong Kian Min (Stay)
Sin Boon Ann (Stay)
Yatiman B Yusof (Might retire)

Comments:
Many people, even the oppositions, always think that Mah Bow Tan is an unpopular Minister due to his past implementation of the COE and HDB. On the contrary, I heard he is a very popular Minister in his constituency. This is partly because that area has been seeing a lot of upgrading and infrastructure. Values of the HDB apartments of that area have also been rising. I don’t see much issue that the oppositions can make in routes into and even if they contest, I don’t see them winning more that the previous number of votes.

Verdict: PAP wins 65% of the votes


TANJONG PAGAR GRC (141,150)

Current MPs:
Chay Wai Chuen (Stay)
Chong Weng Chiew (Stay)
Indranee Thurai Rajah (Stay)
Khaw Boon Wan (Stay)
Koo Tsai Kee (Stay)
Lee Kuan Yew (Retire)

Comments:
MM LKY’s ward has been uncontested since 1988 and any opposition that contest against him has been scared of their wits. The question on everyone’s mind is whether he would retire since his son is now the PM. My thoughts are that he will step down during this coming GE. If he steps down, he will step down as a Cabinet Minister directly and will not have a partial stepping down (step down as MM but continue to contest as a MP) (you will never see him seating in the backbenchers seat debating against his son). He seems to be making all the retirement preparation with his official overseas visits to establish good ties with the counterparts for his son. As a Minister Mentor, he does not have the executive power (on paper) but welt tremendous influence on the Ministers’ decisions. Thus, this also means that he can’t get any other Ministerial positions lower than that or lower than what he will accept. This is the best time, position and status for him to step down.

Khaw Boon Wan should take over as the anchoring Minister and he has quite good relations with his grassroots and residents. Tanjong Pagar is an aging district and no matter how much the oppositions criticize MM LKY of his alleged authoritarian ways, the residents are fiercely loyal to LKY. He was the one who brought food on to their tables and shelters above their heads. Even if LKY is not contesting in this GRC, oppositions will still be too afraid and intimidated to contest in this GRC as long as he is alive. If oppositions were to contest in this ward, LKY will still stand up to give speeches for his GRC even if he is not contesting. So watch your words if you are planning to contest thinking that he might not be standing in this GE.

Verdict: Uncontested


WEST COAST GRC (110,779)

Current MPs:
Fong Jen Arthur (Stay)
Foo Chee Keng Cedric (Leave)
Ho Geok Choo Madeleine (Stay)
Lim Hng Kiang (Stay)
S Iswaran (Stay)

Comments:
There was an unconfirmed rumour (not sure if it was the 2001 GE or 1997 GE), that one Minister “deliberately” didn’t fill up the nomination form properly to get himself disqualified. However, some how PAP managed to sort out with the election department and send in the full form. During then, SM Lee blew up and demanded PM Goh to remove this Minister of his post. Other rumours also suggested that this Minister is “PM Goh’s loyal man” and so PM Goh managed to convince SM not to remove him. The alleged purpose was that he was not interested in continuing as a Minister and wanted out. I’m leaving this Minister unnamed but I think it is quite obvious. Personally, I don’t quite believe or trust this rumour. I have doubts over any Ministers would take such political risk and embarrassment in doing such silly actions. So don’t read too much into this.

Cedric Foo is another Minister of State who stepped down and returned to the private sector. He was slated as one of the “super seven” during the last GE of candidates straight away entering politics as a Minister of State. During the recent round of cabinet reshuffling, he was the only “super seven” not to be promoted. The other “super seven” (S. Tharman, Khaw Boon Wan, Ng Eng Hen, Vivian Balakrishnan, Raymond Lim & Balaji Sadasivan) have already been promoted to at least a Senior Minister of State. Most notable parliamentary controversy was when he defended the NS “white-horse” issue which he might not have handled well. Although he handled heavy weight portfolios such as Defense and National Development, he did have much publicity or opportunity to demonstrate his worth. I think he will not contest in the coming GE for the same reasons as David Lim (incidentally, he also left his post of Acting Minister to join NOL).

I think this GRC is one that is worth contesting. Oppositions are unlikely to win by it will rattle the incumbents and fair better than the other GRC battles.

Verdict: PAP wins 60% of the votes

Boring boring boring boring.

ACtually to people like us, it is not that boring afterall.

The writer has done quite a bit of homework on the political environment and has made quite a few accurate assessment. eg. Mah Bow Tan's strength in Tampines. There are however some assessment that I think it is out of context.

The writer also has a good background of Singapore political history, like what happened in Anson and the role Ong Ah Heng played in that saga. This is pretty accurate and I think only people who have interests or even taken part in Singapore politics would know the minute details.

I will however, reserve my comments on his various assessment for strategic reasons.

Goh Meng Seng

Many thanks to Meng Seng. The unfortunate political state of Singapore is that politics is left to people who cares and bothers about our future. And there is too little of such people around.

For this article, it is just my personal assessment coupled with some research, I wouldn't say it is any inside news but more of external observations...

I notice that the predict u predict relatively low % of votes for PAP win in many GRCs, ie 60%-55% range. What makes you predict that the coming election would see PAP winning by record low margin?

Is it the poor economic performances in recent years? I noticed that the foreign talent issue is causing resentment amongst the locals. Could that be one of the reasons too?

I would say that I gave a very conservative prediction. But there are several reasons for that. When then-PM Goh took over from LKY, his votes dipped to around 65%. New PMs have extreme results. Like Abdullah Badawi, in his first term as the PM, this election victory was overwhelming.

But for PM LHL, we should see quite a few old guards leaving the cabinet like S Jayakumar, popular figures like Tony Tan and Tan Cheng Bock. Bear in mind, that our population demographics shows that the older people are the bulk. Do they have as much confident to the new MPs and Ministers compared to the older guards?

Another reason, is like what you mentioned. At the end of the day, bread & butter issues dominates local politics. But we will still see the majority believing that PAP can provide that on their tables. But a reduction in the number of people from the last GE.

I think this guy could be a shrink. I steer clear of shrinks. Even Tom Cruise hate shrinks.

As for Chiam See Tong, I'll bet my last dollar that he'll retire or goes out come next election.

I hope I won't trip into this site again.

Bet last dollar?

Maybe there's still space next to JB Jeyaratnam for this guy to start selling books or something.

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The 2011-12 elections may be proven to be the best thing of all events which I could never forget,besides the 2010 Youth Olympic Games....With a new political party,the Democratic Reform Party formed by JBJ,the former WP chief,the elections will be sure to be heated up with even more hotter contests,plus the SDP in which it had been tried to be healed up with Dr Chee in stake of trying to stage up a comeback in battles,the WP which is proved to be the formidable opponent and the SDA in which it'll try its best to withstand the WP,making the best opposition against the ruling PAP..Take a good look at the example of the 1988 elections..Except for 3 GRCs and 2 SMCs,all 70 out of 81 seats are all at the stake even my place called Thomson at the time,and only Potong Pasir had gone up to the opposition in which the Toa Payoh TC at that time had been trying to get it up if it has been succesfully ruled by the PAP itself...The result,all 80 seats had been completely under PAP rule...Eventually,there may be some changes made to two GRCs,that is Hong Kah and East Coast GRCs...In Hong Kah,former miniter Yeo will eventually step down to make way for Mr Gan,the Manpower Minister to lead the GRC...And in East Coast,S Jayakumar will step down as DPM and leader to make way for Raymond Lim,Transport Minister for a new generation....Eventually,the WP team lead by Yaw Shin Leong who had lost to PM Lee at the Ang Mo Kio GRC will come up to Hong Kah to score quite close...Mr Gan may have then abandon the Chua Chu Kang SMC and then absorb it to the GRC as well...Mr Raymond Lim will have then contest against either an SDP team lead by Gerald Sng or will Ling How Doong ever return in the party or had joined JBJ's party?Or even Philip,JBJ's son to lead a DRP team against him???Who knows.....
Here are the list of the potential contests which are proved to be even hotter than before for the next elctions(Except for Jalan Besar and Tampines GRCs-walkovers):
Aljunied GRC-PAP vs SDA
Ang Mo Kio GRC-PAP vs SDA
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC-PAP vs SDP
East Coast GRC-PAP vs SDP/DRP???(not sure)
Holland-Bukit Timah GRC-PAP vs WP
Hong Kah GRC-PAP vs WP(to be considered)
Jurong GRC-PAP vs SDA(to be considered)
Marine Parade GRC-PAP vs DRP
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC-PAP vs WP
Sembawang GRC-PAP vs SDA
Tanjong Pagar GRC-PAP vs WP
West Coast GRC-PAP vs WP
Bukit Panjang-PAP vs SDA
Hougang-PAP vs WP(with a new WP candidate against a PAP one)
Joo Chiat-PAP vs SDP vs DRP
Macpherson-PAP vs SDA
Nee Soon Central-PAP vs WP
Nee Soon East-PAP vs SDP
Potong Pasir-PAP vs SDA(quite a greatest chance for PAP to win back)
Yio Chu Kang-PAP vs SDA vs SDP
Potentially,there will be two 3-cornered fights in Joo Chiat and Yio Chu Kang,between both Monica Kumar and Francis Yong in respective wards,and even Ng Teck Siong of DRP and Sebestian Teo of SDA,right against both PAP's Chan Soo Sen and Seng Han Thong..
Eventually,after Mr Sitoh Yih Pin,who will be joining forces with Wong Kan Seng's team in Bishan-Toa Payoh against Dr Chee Soon Juan's team from the SDP,the PAP's possible candidate will be Mrs Josephime Teo for Potong Pasir...Since Mr Chiam could be the oldest opposition MP,it'll give Mrs Teo about 50-60% chance to get back Potong Pasir to its former glory...Besides,she had ever served the Bishan-Toa Payoh town since 2006 and her Toa Payoh East ward had been right closer to the oppsition ward and I think Mr Sitoh could have been doing much better in the GRC and Mrs Teo would have then serve the aged residents better providing that she won't offer some upgrading carrot for redevelopment and new facelift project for the entire Lor 8 Toa Payoh and even promising more facilities for the old folks and financial aid for the poor just like Dr Hu Tsu Tau did in Kreta Ayer once....
To win back Hougang,the PAP must get at least about 60-65% support for it...At least if the residents had enough of the WP style of living...And the potential PAP candidate after Eric Low Siak Meng,who will join forces with George Yeo for Aljunied GRC against SDA's Sin Kek Tong and his gang will be Mr Yeo Guat Kwang...After Low Thia Khiang may have left Hougang after 20 years,he will have then select his best candidate and that is Mr Perry Tong,while he have to repeat his leading in Tiong Bahru of Tanjong Pagar GRC,which he had lost to in 1988...Perry will have then score up to at least 40-45% closer while Mr Yeo would have then get at least 60% to win back Hougang and to bring it up to Aljunied TC and to promise some new facelift and redevelopment without a single carrot....Eric Low would have then take over his Aljunied-Hougang ward in the GRC...
Subsequently,the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC may have then scored at least 74-76% against Dr Chee's team and Aljunied to win back some majority of over 65-67% against the SDA after WP with only 54%,quite the worst of all....
I think that's all I really wish to predict on...But please do accept my apology if my predictions were not quite accurate.....

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