West turns into a fortress for PAP

West turns into a fortress for PAP

The west, a stronghold for the politicians in white, turned into a fortress for the People's Action Party (PAP) yesterday, delivering huge wins to faces familiar and new.

Topping the victory chart was the five-member Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC), which handed Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and his team a whopping 79.3 per cent of the votes. The challengers from SingFirst, a party formed last year, got 20.7 per cent.

In the 2011 General Election, Mr Tharman's group got the second- best GRC result with 67 per cent, behind the Ang Mo Kio team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This time, with newcomers lawyer Rahayu Mahzam and oncologist Tan Wu Meng, it is No. 1.

Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister and into his fourth term as an MP for Jurong GRC, told The Straits Times: "This election has shown Singaporeans are fair-minded and vote based on reason."

To cheering supporters at Jurong West Stadium, he said there is a lot of work ahead "to help every young child to have the best chance in life regardless of who their parents are... to help our mid-career Singaporeans whatever jobs they do, to have good careers and on a level playing field, and a lot of work ahead to help our seniors who built up Singapore to live satisfying and dignified lives in their retirement".

Veteran politician Lim Hng Kiang also more than defended his seat in the four-member West Coast GRC, which he has held since 1997.

The Minister for Trade and Industry, whose team includes Mr S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, scored 78.6 per cent against the Reform Party's A-team led by its chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam. It got a resounding swing of 12 percentage points from 2011.

Also winning with proportions in the 70s were PAP's teams in Chua Chu Kang, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Sembawang and Tampines.

Celebrations were coupled with a mood of humility, pledges to tackle key issues hand-in-hand with the people and to continue working for those who did not vote for the incumbents, and in time win them over.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, whose five-man team at Bishan- Toa Payoh GRC included three new faces, beat Singapore People's Party with 73.6 per cent of the votes. It marked a 16.7 percentage-point shift - the night's biggest swing.

He described the overall national swing as very special, coming in the country's Golden Jubilee. "But my first response when looking at the results is that I'm greatly humbled."

With the overwhelming trust Singaporeans have shown in PAP, "we have a great responsibility to ensure we don't abuse it".

Asked if the town council saga involving the Workers' Party had a key role to play in the swing towards PAP, Dr Ng said he will leave that to the political analysts but added: "My own reading is Singaporeans want political leaders - of all parties - to uphold high standards."

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong took his four-member Chua Chu Kang GRC team to a 76.9 per cent vote share, routing the People's Power Party.

This is more than 15 percentage points above 2011's 61.2.

Speaking to his party's supporters at Jurong West Stadium, he said: "For those who did not support us, we will continue to engage you and win you over. We will move forward as one community, one big family."

Mr Gan told The Straits Times that the swing towards the ruling party showed Singaporeans understand what is good for the nation. But the growing complaints on the ground about immigration and Central Provident Fund are not lost on the PAP.

"Over the last few years, we have worked hard to engage the population through many platforms,'' he said, and pledged: "That is something we will continue to do - to be on the ground, and get the people's feedback on our policies."

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, the anchor for Sembawang GRC where the team got 72.3 per cent of the votes against the National Solidarity Party (NSP), had described this election as a turning point.

The choice before people, he said, was whether to "continue with sound politics, good leadership, and one united people".

With the PAP returned with a strong mandate, Mr Khaw predicts even better years ahead.

"It's very humbling and satisfying to get such a strong mandate from our residents," said Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Teo Ser Luck, whose white shirt was soaked in sweat from shuttling between counting centres.

Led by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, the incumbents bagged 72.9 per cent against the Singapore Democratic Alliance, up more than eight percentage points.

Raising a pumped fist at Bedok Stadium, he promised to work for every resident "whether you voted for us or not".

The Tampines GRC team led by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat got 72.1 per cent to beat the NSP, a near-15 percentage point jump. With confirmation of the win, came hugs and selfie requests from supporters.

Still, Mr Heng did not want to celebrate too much, reiterating the call made by his PAP colleagues: "There's much work ahead."


This article was first published on September 12, 2015.
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