Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not A Sure Thing

After months of waiting, the by-election in Hougang is finally set on 26th May. Nomination Day will be on 16th May and parties will have 9 days to make their case to the residents of Hougang with a “cooling off” day before the election.

The by-election was called when the Workers’ Party (WP) expelled Member of Parliament (MP) for Hougang, Mr. Yaw Shin Leong, from their party on 14th Feb. This left the Hougang seat empty and now the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) will have another crack at Hougang.

Now a lot of people say that Hougang is a safe seat for the WP. That is true but I won’t say a victory for the WP is a foregone conclusion. Even though the seat has been in WP’s hands for the past 20 odd years, I would not be surprised if the PAP takes it on 26th May. The PAP is widely expected to bring their whole party machinery to bear in Hougang and against that, the WP will have a serious problem on their hand.

Not helping the matter is the simple fact that this is a contest the WP could have avoided. Mr. Yaw was expelled from the WP for refusing to account for an alleged extra-marital affair to the party. The expulsion was something no one in Singapore asked for.

The simple fact of the matter is that no one in Hougang (or anywhere in Singapore for that matter) cared about any affair Mr. Yaw had. This is Singapore, not America. Who cares if he had an affair? When the WP expelled Mr. Yaw, they turned what was a minor domestic dispute into a political fiasco.

Having said all that, I do agree that the WP has a good chance of holding on to the Hougang seat. Frankly, I’m surprised that it took so long for the PAP to call this by-election. It has been three months since Mr. Yaw was removed from office, and while I understand the fact that they want to sweeten the ground for their candidate, I fear the PAP may have taken too long.

As they say, time heal everything. The shock of Mr. Yaw’s removal has passed and the alleged affair is now even less of a footnote on the political scene. By taking so long to call the by-election, the PAP may have missed the boat of victory.

Chances of the WP winning are good but don’t count the chickens yet. I won’t bet on it but I wouldn’t be surprise if the PAP pulls off a win on 26th May. 

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