SINGAPORE – The People’s Action Party team led by Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen has retained Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, beating the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) for the third consecutive time with 67.26 per cent of the votes.
Although the four-man PAP team successfully defended the party stronghold, the winning margin is slimmer than in 2015 when the incumbents secured 73.59 per cent of the votes.
With a total of 101,366 registered voters, it is the smallest GRC as it has been reduced from a five- to a four-member constituency.
Areas under the Bishan North ward served by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo were carved out to form the new Marymount single-member constituency, which was won by former brigadier-general and PAP new face Gan Siow Huang against the Progress Singapore Party’s Dr Ang Yong Guan.
Mrs Teo, 51, a Bishan Toa-Payoh GRC MP since 2006, left to helm Jalan Besar GRC.
The PAP’s team for Bishan-Toa Payoh group representation constituency comprised Dr Ng, 61, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat, 46, Mr Saktiandi Supaat, 46, and Mr Chong Kee Hiong, 54.
They faced an SPP team led by party secretary-general and former Non-Constituency MP Steve Chia.
Both parties previously contested Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in the 2011 and 2015 elections, with the PAP taking 56.93 per cent and 73.59 per cent of the votes respectively.
The SPP team included party vice-chairman and first-time candidate Williamson Lee, 40, former Reform Party candidate Osman Sulaiman, 45, and former candidate for the now-defunct Singaporeans First party Melyvn Chiu, 40.
For Mr Chia, 49, this is his fifth electoral defeat. The former National Solidarity Party (NSP) member contested elections in 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2011.
Mr Chia resigned from the NSP after pulling out of the 2015 General Election and joined the SPP in 2018.
Without the bluster of mass public rallies, both sides ran low-key campaigns – going door to door, visiting markets and coffee shops, distributing fliers and manifestos, and tapping social media.
The PAP team campaigned hard to continue improving local amenities, bolstering local programmes for vulnerable families and the elderly, as well as helping residents find jobs amid the Covid-19 crisis and a gloomy economic outlook.
Speaking during an online rally on the final day of the hustings on Wednesday (July 8), Dr Ng said: “Someone might say these simple promises are boring and common. Everyone can make them…
“Over the 20 years that I have been here, I have come to realise that residents are very discerning. We have an older population and those with grey hairs here have seen and heard election promises come and go. Better to speak honestly and plainly.”
The group representation constituency has one of the highest proportions of seniors – about 70,000 of the 190,000 residents will be above 60 years old by 2030.
Mr Chia and his team, on the other hand, were pushing for more diversity in Parliament and an end to the PAP’s supermajority.
With Ms Gan also winning her seat, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Marymount SMC will operate under a single town council.
The SPP contested only two constituencies in this election, the other being Potong Pasir where its party chairman Jose Raymond, 48, lost to PAP incumbent Sitoh Yih Pin, who has been MP for the single seat since 2011.
This is the SPP’s smallest line-up since its first electoral contest in 1997.
The party underwent a leadership renewal in October 2019, when veteran opposition politician Chiam See Tong, 85, stepped down as secretary-general.
Speaking to The Straits Times at the counting centre in Raffles Institution at about 10.20pm, Mr Chia said win or lose, the SPP would start preparations for the general election “tomorrow”.
“Whatever the result, we will accept it with grace and humility because we understand that it takes great courage and conviction to believe that somebody new will be able to do the job and do it better than the PAP,” said Mr Chia.
Asked if they would return to contest in the same GRC, he said: “We will be here definitely. We will definitely re-strategise and do our best to prepare for the next one.”
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