Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Boring Contest?

With 181 candidates, 9 political parties and 2 independents contesting for all 89 seats in Parliament, some have called this the most keenly contested election in Singapore's history. Others have began calling it the most boring.

After looking at the facts, I have to say both sides are right.

Although all seats are contested this round, the simple fact is that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) are the overwhelming favorite in the vast majority of these contests. The biggest opposition party, Worker's Party (WP), seems more interested in retaining the seats they won in 2011 than making any new headway. There is no "all-in" gamble like Aljunied GRC.

Having said that, the PAP also seems more interested in retaining their majority in Parliament than anything else. Without question, the PAP's strategy is to prevent the loss of another GRC. The team they fielded in Aljunied GRC seems lightweight, and even the most hardcore opposition supporter has to feel a little sorry for Cheryl Chin. The PAP newcomer has been thrown into Fengshan SMC which voted 48.1% for the WP in 2011; all in the name of saving East Coast. Without question, Lim Swee Say now has an easier task in East coast without having to worry about Fengshan.

With the 2 biggest parties in Singapore holding ground, any fireworks in this election must be provided by the other opposition parties, chiefly the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). After their better-than-expected showing in 2011, the SDP is now back in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. Headed by its secretary-general, Dr Chee Soon Juan, the SDP team has put it's A-team in Holland-Bukit Timah and it seems to me this is the GRC most likely to fall to the opposition.

Can they do it? Honestly, the odds are not good for the SDP. So both sides are right. This is the most keenly contested election in Singapore's history, but it will also be its most boring.

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