Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Over a year ago, I speculated as to the possible outcomes for the next General Election.

My conclusions were:
The best scenario I can see is WP taking another GRC and SMC for 13 seats in Parliament. NSP could maybe take a GRC or an SMC. But this is an overly optimistic scenario. NSP may still be shut out in 2016.
I ignored and am ignoring the other parties, because they are irrelevant.

SPP is a spent force. Other opposition characters have been playing musical chairs. Apparently, we now have 11 opposition parties. Is that a lot? Well, there are 16 presidential candidates in the US... just from the Republican party.

Since that speculative post (of 9 May 2014), LKY has passed away. I wrote then:
Tanjong Pagar's fate may well depend on whether LKY continues to run. If he runs, he will likely hold the ward. But if he decides to retire, the backlash could be harsh.
Well, I think with his passing Tanjong Pagar is unlikely to fall to the opposition.
Just as if Chiam had passed away while still MP of Potong Pasir and his wife stood as candidate subsequently, the sympathy effect would likely have swept her into parliament.

But let's speculate about the WP's performance in the coming election. They have identified the wards that they would be contesting in. This is basically the WP telling other opposition parties: "Back off. We're here. We're going to do better than you. And we'll cost you in forfeited deposits."

But will they do well enough to dislodge the PAP?

I believe that they will hold Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East. I believe that so strongly that I think the PAP should just save their resources, leave those wards and channel their resources elsewhere.

So here are the new wards that WP has declared for.

(All Election facts/statistics (GE2011) from Singapore Election website. )

Marine Parade (56.6% PAP, now includes Joo Chiat, 51%)

Tin Pei Lin is now in MacPherson SMC, which has been carved out of Marine Parade GRC. The opposition then was NSP, with Nicole Seah. Assuming the popular view was correct and that Tin Pei Lin pulled down the votes in Marine Parade, and Nicole Seah up the support for NSP, with the carving out of MacPherson and the departure of Nicole Seah, PAP should do better than the 56.6%. Against NSP.

What about against WP?

Is the 43.4% for NSP an indication that they want an opposition, but not NSP? Maybe WP could pull a win?

WP has staked their claim in Marine Parade. What about NSP?

NSP has invested in this GRC. Would they just step aside for WP? Will it be a 3-corner fight? If it is a 3-corner fight, who would prevail? PAP or WP? If NSP steps aside, what concessions will WP give for NSP's cooperation?

Were the 43.4% a vote for NSP, or was it an anti-PAP vote, and if this comes down to a 3-way fight, who would voters vote for?

I suspect that there will be residual support for NSP for having worked the ground over the last few years. And WP will be seen as an interloper, or vulture swooping in the take the prey that NSP has worked so hard to bring down.

I believe the SGeans believe in fair play (and loyalty), and I believe a significant proportion of SGeans who voted NSP will continue to vote NSP. (Say, 30%? Down from 43.4%)

But some SGeans are also (maybe) opportunists who will back the favoured horse and WP looks favoured to win. Or they voted NSP because WP did not contest. Some NSP voters may switch to WP.

Then there are some who pragmatically voted for PAP because NSP just wasn't good enough. BUT now they have WP. Some PAP voters may switch to WP.

This may yet result in a favourable situation for PAP. Say 30% who voted NSP are loyal and stayed with NSP. The remaining 14% who voted NSP switched to the winningest opposition. At the same time, about 15% who were borderline PAP supporters or pragmatists now have the WP option. So 30% (approx) votes for WP.

Leaving 40% for PAP, which is the largest majority, and PAP wins Marine Parade. This is the second best scenario for PAP (the best would be if PAP gets over 50% and is a clear winner).

What WP is hoping is that the 45% who voted NSP in GE2011 are anti-PAP and want any opposition, and NSP was their only option then. Now that WP is contesting, voters have another (better) choice, and would go for WP. WP also hopes (or has assessed that) anti-PAP sentiments have increased, or (about 10% of) borderline voters may switch from PAP now that there is WP, giving WP a win.

NSP is hoping that they hold all the voters they got in GE2011, plus another 7% or more to take the GRC, and be the second opposition party to win a GRC.

Their second best hope is that they retain their numbers and voters, and WP split the PAP vote (huh?), or weaken PAP by about 10 percentage points. NSP could still take the GRC.

Their third best hope is that they do (significantly) better than WP, regardless of whether NSP manages to win the GRC or not. And this means that WP would not be the main opposition party that other opposition parties should make way for; that WP does not have the weight to ignore other parties, especially if the other parties have prepared the ground well.

Their worst fear would be WP sweeping in, winning the GRC and rendering NSP irrelevant (getting less than 15% of the votes) despite their years of preparing the ground.

[Edit: NSP has since pulled out of this leaving the GRC to WP to contest against PAP. WP has a chance here. The question is whether the AHPTEC issue weighs on the voters' minds.]

East Coast (54.8% PAP)

This was one of the weakest GRC wins by the PAP (if not the weakest). WP is expected to take this GRC next.

[Edit: My friend noted that East Coast has many landed properties and may be less concerned with AHPETC fall out. So voters may vote fearlessly for WP.]

Jalan Besar (redrawn from Moulmein-Kallang 58.6% PAP)

The Transport Minister is in Moulmein-Kallang, and likely should be in the new Jalan Besar GRC. Will the transportation issues come back to bite him at the polls?

I think this will stay with PAP, but only because I like Ya'acob.

But personal liking and the polls have little to do with each other, although the PAP won with 58.6%, it was with a different composition of wards.

And there is the Transport Minister. Will his 1.9% fare reduction help? [And the 12 Downtown Line opening in Dec. Oh! Both fare reduction and new train station opening are at the end of the year, which may mean the GE will be in next year, not Sept 2015.]

Also NSP is "invading" this GRC. In 2011, WP challenged in the Moulmein-Kallang GRC (which is now mostly renamed Jalan Besar GRC).

NSP may split the opposition votes. Even if the NSP effect is small, it could cost the WP victory.

[Update 6 Aug: NSP has pulled out. It is a straight challenge from WP. So no spoiler effect from NSP.

Update II: Lui Tuck Yew has announced that he is withdrawing from politics. This removes the Transport Minister as a target for opposition. Of course, the opposition may still go after the PAP as collective responsibility, but this may backfire if voters think the opposition is over-politicising the issue, especially since Lui has "fallen on his sword".]

Nee Soon (58.4% PAP)

WP has also set their sights on Nee Soon. Law Minister Shanmugam is here. Will this make a difference? It didn't with George Yeo in Aljunied. I believe Shanmugam is quite good on the ground, but, I think so was George Yeo.

A 9-point swing in 2011 led to WP winning Aljunied GRC. If there is another 9 point swing, they could get all the GRCs they are contesting in. But another 9 point swing, on top of the 9 point swing in 2011 would be unlikely. The pendulum swings back. Not that I expect a swing back now. But some  momentum has been lost.

Fengshan (54.8% PAP, as part of East Coast GRC in 2011)

The MP for Fengshan is Raymond Lim, former Minister of Transport. Is he the "Tin Pei Ling" of East Coast GRC? WP will also be facing a "challenge" from DPP. But other than NSP, all other opposition parties are irrelevant. DPP may be making a donation.

[Update: Sylvia Lim has hinted strongly that she may run here.]

MacPherson (56.6% PAP as part of Marine Parade GRC, 2011)

Tin Pei Ling is the MP for MacPherson, and the general view is that she is a lightweight, and a liability and if Marine Parade GRC did badly in 2011 despite being helmed by SM Goh Chok Tong, it was because of her.

Was the carving out of Fengshan and MacPherson a way of dropping the tail so the lizard can get away? Are these two SMCs being "sacrificed" to save the GRCs?

MacPherson SMC also has the added complication of NSP candidate. This may be a smaller Marine Parade GRC scenario. With the added element of Tin Pei Ling.

But, I think the pundits and the vocal minority are wrong. They may not like Tin Pei Ling, they may make fun of her naivete, but I suspect they do not know if she can connect with the ground.

I believe Tin will hold her own. Even if she cannot get 50%+1, she may still hold the SMC if WP and NSP split the opposition vote.

[Update: This is now a straight contest between WP and PAP. I believe Ms Tin will hold the ward.]

Sengkang West (58.1% PAP)

Lam Pin Min was in the news for some comments he made regarding an incident during the Thaipusam procession. But most people are not likely to have remembered or hold it against him. I do not know much about him. He is a "grassroot" MP and it will be his personal connection with the voters that will win or lose him the SMC.

He may blunder on the national stage, but if he is a grassroots MP, it will be his grassroots support that will help him hold the ground.

WP "Strategy"

WP is targeting all those GRC with low polls for PAP, including Marine Parade which was contested by NSP in GE2011.

But why did they not also target Tampines, which also polled low (57.2%) and was challenged by NSP? Was this because WP is not confident of taking Tampines (With Baey Yam Keng and Heng Swee Keat)?

Or is WP more confident of Jalan Besar (with Lui and Yaacob), and Marine Parade (Goh Chok Tong & Tan Chuan Jin)?

WP won Aljunied with a 9 percentage point swing (from 56% PAP to 45% PAP from 2006 to 2011). They are probably calculating that a 9 point swing will give the victory in these GRCs.

Can they do it?

As mentioned above, the pendulum may have swung as far and as fast as it can for this round.

Do Candidates Matter? Or is it Party vs Party, and Party Brand?

Also in the news, would the WP "A-Team" be redeployed to lead other GRCs? Pros and cons and the final conclusion: they probably should not. They need to hold the "crown jewel" of Aljunied, and keep the faith with Aljunied residents.
Dr Eugene Tan, Associate Professor of Law at the Singapore Management University, believes that the Aljunied team is unlikely to change. “Simply because when we look at Aljunied GRC, it is their ‘crown jewel’, which they won only in 2011,” he said.
“And I think for them to disband what I’d describe as their A-Team, their Dream Team, may not go down well with their voters in Aljunied.”
This also means that pundits are considering the Candidates as a significant issue or factor. Is it not only the party? Is it not simply being Anti-PAP or Pro-WP? Do voters also have to consider whether the WP candidate is better than the PAP candidate? That's too complicated!

[Update: Low Thia Khiang has announced that he would hold Aljunied but has been coy about the other MPs. Sylvia Lim has hinted that she would contest in Fengshan. So the rest of the "A-Team" may spread out leaving Low to hold Aljunied with a new team.]

AHPETC to Polls

Would AHPETC be an issue or a consideration? PAP probably hopes that by playing up the AHPETC issue, voters in other GRCs and SMCs will factor this in at the polls. They probably also hoped that this would win them Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East (AHPE).

I don't think it will for AHPE.

Part of the reason is "cognitive dissonance" (time to put Psych 101 to use!). In Aljunied, the need to justify their decision in 2011 (and not repent!) will give the voters a certain perspective. The truth is, the AHPETC "scandal" is not a big deal (as yet). If there were evidence of criminal dishonesty, those responsible would have been charged. If there were impropriety, the regulators would have shut them down.

The simple conclusion is, there was inefficiency, perhaps incompetence, but no criminal liability.

BUT, for other constituency, would the AHPETC issue be more of a consideration? Has the PAP played up the boogey man sufficient to make voters think twice.

And it may not be all PAP. WP reticence in addressing the issue could cost them at the polls. Of course, it is also possible that the true WP supporter would dismiss all the AHPETC issues as PAP bullying and politicking.

But how does the swing voter, the can-be-persuaded-to-vote-WP feel about the whole matter. The problem (for the WP) is that for these swing voters, who are very cautious and prudent, uncertainty is off-putting.

The staunch WP (or opposition) supporter is not at stake. They would have voted WP years ago. And they would still vote WP even if there were any substance to the issues of AHPETC.

But the swing voters who are weak PAP supporters, would be concerned about the uncertainty and hint of scandal hanging over AHPETC.

And there is a ebb and flow in politics. In one election, the tide comes in and lifts all opposition parties. Then the next GE comes along and the voters re-considers, and support for the opposition ebbs.

PAP strategy

If you have read my other posts, you will know I do not believe the PAP has a strategy.

Which is not completely true. Given a chance, PAP candidates in SMCs can hold their own. If they are the incumbent. One of the highest scoring wards in 2001 with 88% of the votes is Ayer Rajah SMC with Tan Cheng Bock. In that GE, most of the high scoring wards for PAP were SMCs.

This is in line with my theory of GRC and by implication, SMC - that SMCs are wards held by grassroots MPs who are able to connect with the voters.

So I believe that in MacPherson, Fengshan, and Sengkang West, the PAP candidates have been assessed as "grassroots" MP who will likely hold the ground.

The Prediction

This was written before the conclusion of the horse-trading between the 11 opposition parties.


I like that. Most of the opposition are bringing race horses to an F1 race. Good luck.

Anyway, the analysis above are based on information prior to any conclusion or compromise between the opposition parties from their "horse-trading".

I believe the WP will hold Aljunied, Hougang, and Punggol East.

They may have a chance with East Coast GRC, but this is now not certain. It depends on the AHPETC chill factor. If the voters are sufficiently concerned, they may well be turned off from the WP. But if there is a significant proportion of voters in private property, they would not worry about town council management issues.

I don't believe they can take Marine Parade, Jalan Besar, or Nee Soon.

In Marine Parade, NSP would be a spoiler.

To a lesser extent, NSP could also be a spoiler in Jalan Besar.

Nee Soon and Jalan Besar may be too strong for WP to take from PAP.

So my prediction: Possibly, no increase in opposition seats in parliament. WP may have an even chance to take East Coast.  but this is now, in my assessment, unlikely.

[Revised 6 Aug, 1045pm]

NSP has weakened since the last election with changes of leadership and more style than substance.

SPP is a one-man show and is a spent force.

SDP was most improved in GE2011, but Vincent has left, there is nothing new, no new message, just the same-old, same-old.

Most of the rest are one-man ego vehicles and historical artefacts at best. No distinct and pertinent message. No strategy to speak of. No hope.

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