Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Singapore Election Recap

Singapore has had its election, and I've handed in my semester's grading, so it's time for a little recap on the elections.

The opposition did what they came to do -- win the five seats of Aljunied GRC. It's the first time the opposition has won a GRC, and it propels them to 6 out of 87 elected seats in Parliament, their highest total ever. The thing of real historical significance is that they did it over Lee Kuan Yew's threat that the PAP would use its power against Aljunied if the opposition won. (It was a healthy margin too -- 72,165 to 59,732.) In a properly functioning democracy, parties don't win elections by threatening to harm the voters if they lose. I'm very happy to see a precedent that tactics like that will backfire. Opposition supporters seem genuinely unhappy that the PAP's George Yeo had to lose in Aljunied, and there's been a lot of talk about what a shame it is that Tan Pei Ling is going to be in Parliament while Yeo isn't.

Outside of Aljunied, all the opposition won was the Hougang SMC seat they had before. In the other opposition seat, Potong Pasir, their incumbent had been disabled by a stroke and his wife lost by less than 1%. All opposition victories were Workers' Party. My Australian colleague was saying today that he thinks the Workers' Party would be the best current opposition party to run a government, because they're more capable, but he'd like the Singapore Democratic Party better as long as they're in the minority because their idealism would provide the best alternative vision for Singapore.

My favorite opposition candidate was gay migrant worker activist Vincent Wijeysingha, whose GRC slate lost by a 60-40 margin. All indications from the TV news and my girlfriend are that he was pretty happy to have gotten 40% of the vote in a district where the opposition didn't even run last time.

The surprise star of Election Night, however, was Returning Officer Yam Ah Mee, the election-office bureaucrat in charge of announcing final results. His dull, high-pitched monotone got people laughing that night, and now has spawned over a dozen wacky remixes on YouTube.

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