He did almost everything correct. He took his time before calling the by-election; he trained the whole of his party’s machinery in Hougang; and then it all got hijacked by a traffic accident!
On 12th May, a tragic accident involving a taxi and a Ferrari occurred at a junction along Rochor Road. The Singaporean taxi driver and his Japanese passenger were both killed along with the driver of the Ferrari who was a Chinese national in the midst of applying for Permanent Residency. Anger among Singaporeans were risen when it was reported that the Ferrari beat a red light and struck the taxi at a speed above 150km/hr. The taxi was hit so hard, its engine was discovered 30m from the crash site.
This accident became a lighting rod for Singaporeans. There are numerous reasons for this. This accident apparently caused by a driver from China is one of a series of accidents involving foreigners. It involved a rich foreigner who was applying for PR status in Singapore but who blatantly disregard the law here. He was giving a Ferrari (rich man) and it hit a taxi (poor man). The rich/poor divide, the open door for foreigners, allowing rich foreigners to easily apply for Permanent Residency; always an uphill task to take Hougang, the PAP now finds itself having to explain all these policies to the Singapore people.
In an effort to get over the tragic accident, both the PM and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean went on Facebook to express sadness over the incident. In most countries, this incident would be a minor matter but with Singapore’s short campaign period (10 days), every day counts and the PAP had to go on the defensive for the past week instead of attacking the WP like they wanted to.
It seems the tragic accident in Bugis not only claimed 3 lives and injured two; it might also cost the Hougang by-election for the PAP.