Singapore s ruling party lost a by- election in theopposition-controlled Hougang district, with Prime Minister LeeHsien Loong signaling more measures are needed to regain supportafter its worst vote result last year. Png Eng Huat, a 50-year-old businessman from the Workers Party,defeated ruling People s Action Party candidate Desmond Choo, 34,a trade union official, at the May 26 polls. Png won 62.1 percentof valid votes in northeastern suburb for the seat left vacantafter Yaw Shin Leong was expelled by the Workers Party inFebruary for indiscretions in his private life. Lee s People s Action Party, or PAP, has struggled to reinventitself since returning to power in May last year with the smallestvictory since independence in 1965. After the vote over theweekend, Lee reiterated a pledge to change the way the partygoverns a population that opinion surveys show is most concernedwith issues such as high living costs and an influx of foreignresidents.
The election outcome shows the opposition s ability toparticipate in constructive debates over issues like immigrationand the cost of living, said Michael Montesano, a visitingresearch fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies inSingapore. One of the things about by-elections is that theysometimes send signals that are relevant to general elections andthey often assist parties in preparing for them. While candidates campaigned for the by-election on local issuessuch as improving public housing, a survey of 50 residents by Todaynewspaper this month showed a majority of residents are concernedwith national policies, including the cost of living and the influxof foreigners. More Needed The PAP government has done its best to address importantnational issues like housing and transportation, immigration andpopulation, economic upgrading and workers incomes, Lee said ina statement after the election. We have made progress, but thereis much more to be done.
About 23,000 people, or 1 percent of the electorate, were eligibleto vote in the Hougang district. Png got 13,447 out of 21,951ballots cast, of which 294 were considered spoiled votes, ReturningOfficer Yam Ah Mee said in a national broadcast. Choo received8,210 votes. It is a very good result given the circumstances, Workers Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang said at a press conferencethat was broadcast nationally. We value every vote, he said. CDMA GSM Cell Phones
While the poll was a barometer of support for government policies,Lee s party still controls Parliament with 81 of the 87 seats. ThePAP has governed the country since 1959. Immigration Policies The government is under pressure to placate voters withoutdisrupting the arrival of talent and labor that helped forge theonly advanced economy in Southeast Asia. In the past year, Lee sgovernment has implemented stricter immigration policies and cutministerial pay. The administration has raised property taxes for non- Singaporeansand accelerated construction of housing. Touch Screen Android Smartphones
Lee also made permanent aprogram to provide cash, utility rebates and medical funds for theelderly and low-income households. The government is subsidizingbus companies purchases of new vehicles to reduce crowding onpublic transport and adding hospital beds. More than a third of Singapore s 5.2 million population is made upof foreigners and expatriate permanent residents, and efforts toreduce the inflow of workers since 2010 have had little effect. Theforeign workforce has grown 7.5 percent annually over the last twoyears, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in February ashe imposed new rules on the percentage of overseas labor thatcompanies are allowed. There may be a need to revisit issues and policies with anout-of-the-box approach, Eugene Tan, an assistant law professorat the Singapore Management University and a member of Parliamentwho has no voting rights, said yesterday of the PAP. China 3G Android Smartphone
The Hougangvoters, the way they voted may indicate that policy tweaks are notenough.