Saturday, 12 January 2013

PM calls for Punggol East by-election

Update 15 Jan - Lead-up to Punggol East Election

PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon: I don't need sympathy votes

The colorectal surgeon also rubbished criticism by some that he was trying to milk the story of his humble beginnings at a recent press conference where he was officially introduced as the PAP candidate.

He said it was inevitable that people will think this way but added that it was important for him to share his past so that residents can make an informed choice.

“It’s not about garnering sympathy votes. If residents feel that I am not the best person, please do not give me any sympathy votes. I do not need any sympathy. This is me. I can’t change my past,” said the 40-year-old.

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Son of Punggol doesn’t need your sympathy vote

If taken at face value, Koh’s story of triumph over adversity and making it big as a surgeon despite being a humble ‘kampung’ boy is somewhat admirable, but it’s unlikely that anyone would ‘sympathise’ because that’s all in the past. What matters is you have a HDB flat now, a car each for yourself and your wife, and in the noble and lucrative business of fixing people’s intestines.

Nobody’s going to vote you in out of sympathy even if your daddy kicked you out on the streets to make a living selling fish hooks handcrafted out of discarded paper clips. Moreover, nobody knows for certain if you’re not merely exaggerating your personal history, especially if you’re an unfamiliar face. It’s what you can do for us, NOW, that makes the difference between voting you in vs the more experienced guys in the blue, red and yellow shirts contesting for Punggol East.

A sympathy vote is usually cast when a recent event, usually a misfortune, is witnessed leading up to elections, because people generally tend to forget or ignore what happened to you years before. If your wife left you because of your commitments in ‘pounding the streets’, I may give you a chance because you paid the ultimate price for serving the country. If you said ‘sorry’ for letting the nation down just before polling, I may be swayed by your earnestness. If you severed your arm rescuing a kitten during a walkabout I may vote you in without even thinking. But telling me about how you once had less than $12 in your bank account doesn’t do it for me, because it’s not a sacrifice or a heavy cost that has anything to do with your passion for politics. Still, if all else fails you could resort to CRYING on stage and national TV. This is how you do it:

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One Lian Up, The Other Lian To Follow - Singapore Parliament

If PAP's candidate for Punggol East Dr Koh Poh Koon is "the son of Punggol", can I claim that my mother is the Queen of England?

Geez, there are ways to score points and there are ways to score points but "the son of Punggol" crap is just that. Crap! He lived in Punggol for 3 years after he was born and he becomes the "son of Punggol". And that is going to win him votes? So brudders, since we were born here, we are all "Sons of Singapore!" No?

Dr Koh was reported by CNA to have said, "The residents have to be practical and realistic - that you must choose to vote the person who can do the work for you. I think it's a fallacy to believe that you can have the best of both worlds - choose the person to make a statement but hope that the other person who's voted out is going to be having all the resources, all the authority, to get the work done for you." [Link]

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Lee Li Lian: Workers' Party Best Candidate for Punggol East By-Election

The Workers’ Party will be fielding Lee Li Lian to contest in the Punggol East By-Election as announced in its media press conference this morning. Lee Li Lian was the Workers’ Party candidate who contested in the Punggol East constituency in the General Election 2011. Prior to today’s announcement, media reports were abuzz that the Workers’ Party will be fielding either of its two NCMPs: Gerard Giam or Yee Jenn Jong to contest in the Punggol East By-Election.

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lee li lian

The Workers' Party this morning unveiled Ms Lee Li Lian, 34, as their candidate in the upcoming Punggol East by-election. 

The party's deputy webmaster was also a candidate in the 2011 General Election, in which she took about 41 per cent of the vote in a three-way fight, but lost to PAP candidate Michael Palmer, who has since resigned following his admission of an extramarital affair. 

WP Chairman Sylvia Lim, introducing the candidate at a press conference at the party headquarters this morning, said: "Li Lian pounded the ground in 2011 and the area hasn't changed that much since. We picked Lee Li Lian because of her prior experience in the ward, and her personal attributes. Over these years, we have found Lee Li Lian to be a sincere, reliable and committed person."

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PAP fields Koh Poh Koon as its candidate for by-election

Dr Koh said: "I can really identify with some of the issues that are raised by residents and Singaporeans - from getting our first homes, putting our kids through school, taking care of the elderly folks.

"I remember when I finally got my HDB flat in 1988, just after I ORD from the army, my wife and I had to borrow money from my uncle to do renovations. You'd be surprised to know that at the end of the thing, before we moved into our house, in the combined accounts of our banks, in the pockets together, we had $11.50.

"We were scratching our heads thinking how to even have our first meal in the house when we had no money to buy chopsticks? We went down to Toyogo at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh and we had to count the number of pieces of chopsticks we can buy with $11.50 to equip our home.

"That was something interesting that we sometimes look back with a bit of a sour feeling in the heart but nevertheless interesting memories of the days we struggled through and I'm sure a lot of Singaporeans are facing similar struggles of having to set up their own homes and families as well."

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Stretching The Truth

The first thing of note about the colorectal surgeon as candidate is that he collected his membership card only three weeks before the by-election was called on 9 Jan 2013. Which means that when Michael Palmer was doomed by incriminating evidence on 8 Dec 2012, he may not have been an official member of the political party he's supposed to represent at Punggol.

No one has to apologize for one's humble origins. Many who started off financially challenged have learned to be prudent with spending, especially when spending other people's money. On the other hand, some have been driven to other extremes, making up for lost time in profligate expenditures. It has been written that Imelda Marcos' obscene obsession with her shoe collection is traceable to her being dirt poor at childhood


Maybe there was a mistake in the decimal point, but it is hard to believe that two young medical graduates starting up home with their first housing board flat had only $11.50 in their joint account.

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Two Acting Ministers sing praises about Dr Koh Poh Koon, so why is he not good enough for GE 2011? 

Questions: If Dr Koh Poh Koon is such a good catch for the PAP, then why wasn't he fielded in GE 2011? Is it because he doesn't even measure up to candidates like Tin Pei Ling? Are Punggol East residents getting a fourth-tier candidate from the PAP for the by-election?

XIN MSN News, 14 Jan 2013
Acting Ministers Tan Chuan—Jin and Chan Chun Sing spoke on Sunday in support of Dr Koh Poh Koon — the People’s Action Party’s man for the Punggol East by—election.

Both said they have known Dr Koh for many years and described him as a sincere man who is passionate about making a difference.

Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan Jin said: "Poh Koon is a very good man. He’s very sincere very passionate, I think in all the things that he does. So whether as a doctor, and certainly now in his possible capacity as a Member of Parliament, possibly beyond that depending on what plans there are — Poh Koon is someone I trust, someone who I know has the people’s needs at heart, and he’s someone who cares a lot for society as well."

Mr Chan, who is Acting Minister Social and Family Development, said: "He has just embarked on a new career in the private practice and the fact that he is prepared to set that aside to come forward and serve the people of Singapore — I think that speaks a lot about this character. Full story 

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Opposition politics gets messy in Punggol East By Election

While the PM was unexpectedly prompt in calling for an election, the PAP's selection of its candidate, introduction of the candidate to the media and subsequent campaign activities have been very systematic. Dr. Koh quickly got down to the ground doing what an good candidate is expected to do, To market him well, they call him the "son of Punggol". He was quickly seen visiting the stalled Rivervale project, a sore point among residents, meeting various stakeholders to assure them he would do what it takes to get the project going.

Things don't have to be as messy as they appear to be on the opposition side. Even if they are disunited, all that is needed is for different parties to act rationally in their own best interest.  The facts are not too difficult to grasp. Workers' Party contested in the SMC with decent results in the 2011 elections. Riding the moral high ground after the recent AIMgate and Palm-gate, it's chance of winning is very good and it is not reasonable to expect Workers' Party to give up this opportunity to take up one more seat to add to the pressure it has put on the PAP on various issues.

The recent proposal by SDP[Link] for WP not to participate in the by election is ludicrous and self-damaging - they lost some of the credibility they gained during GE2011....the best thing they can do now is not to make things worse for themselves by joining a contest they certainly lose due to lack of time to work the ground and be blamed for causing the loss of a seat that could have been won by another opposition party. Unfortunately, based on what they have done in recent days, I'm not sure if they are able to stop damaging their own reputation further. "But given the mood change since, the ruling party will have a tougher time – if it is a two-party contest. If it faces the Workers Party alone, the PAP may likely lose." - Seah Chiang Nee[Link]

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SDP's "win-win-win" strategy is "lose-lose"

Whatever the reason may be, it is now apparent that this was a miscalculation. It not only inadvertently sends the message that SDP cannot run a town council on its own, but also reveals a lack of understanding of the average voter's mindset and how he views the role of the MP.

But there may be a silver lining for the party. SDP's proposal prompts questions of what voters really want in an opposition MP. Are they merely content with someone who can take care of their municipal needs as well as the PAP? Or do they also want that person to be able to advocate policy reform and go up against the PAP on bigger national issues?

There is a possibility that this train of thought may benefit SDP in the long run. But for now, it will have to contend with the fallout. The WP, which in the last general election ignored the Singapore Democratic Alliance's pleas to leave Punggol East to them, is unlikely to change its mind.

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SDP trips itself up even before Punggol East starting gun

You can almost hear the boos. The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) proposal for “compromise” with the Workers’ Party over a joint candidate for the Punggol East by-election is so ridiculous, some may question whether they have a grasp of reality.

To quote the statement put up on SDP’s website (link):
In the spirit of compromise and cooperation, we would like to propose that our two parties run a joint campaign and field one candidate from the SDP. If victorious, the SDP candidate will enter Parliament and the WP will run the Punggol East Town Council.
– Press statement by SDP, 11 January 2013
Immediately, they got little else but online flak. Many characterised this idea as one where SDP will get the glory in parliament and WP do all the grunt work.

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SDP’s political naivete

The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) overtures to the Workers’ Party (WP) is, to put it simply, upsetting to SDP supporters, one would imagine. The party’s actions have attracted criticism all round – from both sides of the fence – and deservedly so. Alex Au called the SDP’s proposal for a “joint-campaign” with the WP a “hare-brained” idea.
I would call it naive too. My jaw almost dropped to the floor when I first read about it online.

Right from the get-go, the SDP faltered, by laying its stake or claim to Punggol East – only to later propose a “discussion” with the WP over who should be sent to contest the ward. And as if that is not already seen as dishonest enough, the SDP chose to release and publish its email correspondence with the WP. It is something which I will never understand, no matter what reasons are proferred. Who would want to talk to you from now on, knowing that whatever they may say to you in private and in confidence may be revealed to the entire planet – even if you do not publish each word said?

Who wants to be coerced in this way?

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Party Maturity or Voter Maturity, Is there a Difference?

Who will be more mature after the Punggol East by-election, Singapore political parties or voters?  Will there be a difference? Can the result provide future guidelines and strategies for leaders of alternative parties? 

Win or lose, the PAP will not change and so it will remain ‘status quo’ as before.

The coming Punggol East by-election is interesting in the sense that political parties here are challenging the maturity of voters or the other way round.  The political space is a finite and when more people joining alternative parties, they will have to fight against each other in due course and the next General Election can be very different from GE2011.

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SDP blackmails, armtwists and bullies WP

Leading up to the much anticipated Punggol East SMC by-election to be held on 26 January – surely the political event of the year – what has dominated the headlines so far has not been the candidates angling for election but the antics of Dr Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

Dr Chee, via the SDP, has engaged in the most bizarre behaviour imaginable.

First he badgered PM Lee, saying in the strongest terms “there is absolutely no question” the PM has to call a by-election, given the “dubious reasons” for Mr Michael Palmer’s resignation.

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The Main Breaker of Opposition Unity

It does not take much intelligence to surmise that one of the main factors which prompted PM Lee Hsien Loong to call a snap by-election in Punggol East SMC is the glaring disunity displayed by opposition parties which will weigh heavily in favour of the PAP in the fray. The scramble that the opposition parties will engage in on Nomination Day falling over one another to nominate their candidates they think will be most acceptable to the Punggol East voters will be the most ugly sight to behold. With four opposition parties and one possible independent candidate scrambling for opposition votes to compete against the PAP candidate in the by-election, the result will be a foregone conclusion with the PAP candidate romping home comfortably. It does not take a prophet to prophesy such an eventuality.

There are still four days to Nomination Day on 16 January and it is still possible for the opposition parties to close ranks and allow the Workers' Party (WP) to nominate a candidate to wage a one-to-one battle with the PAP in the by-election. Punggol East is rightly regarded as WP territory by virtue of the fact that it was the main opposition party that contested in GE 2011 securing a credible 41 per cent of the votes. The ground is considered to be in favour of the opposition and the chances of an opposition (WP) victory are more than encouraging.

The main obstacle to opposition unity seems to lie with the not unpredictable intransigent character of Dr.Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).  Even long before the by-election date was made public, Dr. Chee, typical of his hubristic style, announced SDP's claim of the right to contest the Punggol East seat. This sounded the first signal of opposition disunity. SDP has never contested in Punggol East and does it not make it an unconscionable encroacher of WP's territory?

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Dear Leaders of Non-PAP Political Parties

As a Singaporean, I feel very strongly that the arrogant, greedy and callous attitude of PAP is doing much harm to Singapore. Their $$$ first policies (raise GDP at all cost and crazy import of foreign workers) which is literally suffocating Singaporeans leave much to be desired. The games they play with the shifting of goalposts in the many things they control (Electioneering, CPF, HDB, PA, GIC, Temasek, Town Councils, etc.) and their lack of transparency will hurt our children and grandchildren more than they hurt us. Hence, we need more opposition members in Parliament to right their wrongs. Or at least, highlight them as in AIMgate.

天 有 眼
God has eyes!
Surprisingly, karma does happen in one's lifetime - no need to wait for the next life. As recently demonstrated by Palmergate, the power of the universe teaches us not to demand of others to come clean when our own come isn't clean! For that, many Singaporeans are grateful in learning to be gracious with sincerity; not with political correctness (wayang).

Singaporeans have eyes too!
If not for the gloating of their high score in town council management and putting WP in a bad light, AIMgate would not have seen the light of day! It is because AHTC is not in the grip of PAP that we know of such depravity!

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Punggol East and the lunatic fringe

The three letters sent by SDP and its contents are out in the media. The SDP called it a win win win proposal. They believe it in. They believe that it is a brilliant proposal. I think only lunatics will believe so. It is right that the WP ignored this madness completely and not to waste time on something that bothers on pomposity and self delusion.

It is simply rash thinking bordering on hallucination. I could add a few more silly comments about this proposal. It is frightening that the SDP think it is their best shot, a work of genius. With this proposal I think SDP has written itself into history. I don’t anyone will take this party seriously any more. SDP has nothing to prove anymore.

In the last GE there was a certain understanding, a common purpose, to get more opposition party candidates into parliament. And they worked at their very best to prevent a three corner fight. The opposition parties were praised for doing just that. In the Punggol East by election, it is now about helping the PAP to get its candidate into parliament. The opposition parties are trying their level best to prevent the WP candidate from getting into parliament.

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SDP is not stupid; Just deluded

My novice read about the SDP is that they are not stupid; just deluded. They thought too highly of their alternative national plans for Singapore. Too eager to show them off to us but we aren't keen. Not now anyway. Given the back lash from voters they had created for themselves I am sure they will now begin to act smarter. I think they will not contest this by elections. That will take them to more stupid than stupid.

I don't believe the WP do not have alternative plans but these guys are tactically shrewd. They understand the time and place must be right for effective communication and action. E.g., by waiting for the right moment to reveal the involvement of AIM, they show voters that they had put their welfare ahead of everything else. They are not interested to make PAP look bad just for scoring useless points which most pragmatic voters aren't interested. Unfortunately there will always be impatient and idealistic people who bought the SDP approach to checking the government. It doesn't work. Go study the shrewdness of Abraham Lincoln. Well watch the movie (nominated for 12 Academy Awards) if it comes to town.

How to beat the PAP is to show that you put Singaporeans ahead of the interests of your political party. Meanwhile fight fairer and cleaner than the PAP. Don't be despicable which is what the PAP had descended to.

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SDP Shows its Stupid Cards in the By-E Poker

Unfuckingbelievable. SDP was both cock and crazy enough to suggest this absurd joint proposal to WP as a spirit of cooperation of win-win in the approaching By-E. Yeah, right. SDP would offer its candidate instead, suggesting that its man is more capable as a political icon than anyone WP can propose.If the coalition wins the By-E, WP can run the town council, suggesting that WP can do the heavy lifting afterwards while SDP dumps Punggol East voters after the initial courtship and fling. Are SDP and Chee Soon Juan snakes or not you think? Hisssssssss

SDP thinks its proposal is reasonable and clever. SDP is deluded that it is in the spirit of gentlemanly cooperation. SDP has been whining that it sent letters to WP to open up cooperation. Really, with these sort of proposals and conditions, what do you think WP would do - of course reject it as any political party with dignity would do. SDP then thinking itself smart would later say that WP rejected a perfectly honest and friendly proposal that was beneficial to Singaporeans. Oh SDP and Chee Soon Juan, what big fucking bullshit you have!

This is all a SDP farce and when nomination day comes and no SDP candidate steps forward, you bet that shameless SDP would give the excuse that for the benefit of Singaporeans and with a heavy heart, they decided to generously bow out and let WP take on PAP. WTF. And if, if, if, WP loses Punggol East, SDP would then sadly say that WP should have listened and allowed SDP to use their man. Facepalm.

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Letter to SDP: Self first or Nation first?

Dear SDP,
I have read many netizens comments on this coming By Election of Punggol East SMC.

Many have requested that SDP and all other political parties not to contest and graciously allow only WP to contest against PAP.

There are strong compelling reasons why SDP should not contest this By Election in Punggol.

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Punggol East – The battle of internet

Two more days to nomination day and internet is in a flurry of activities. The Opposition camp, particularly those that wanted a multi corner fight to undermine WP’s chances are getting a bollocking from the netizens. Nothing much heard in the main media on this matter. And now with straw poll an offence, no one is going to know what is the true ground feel.

Then there is the internet brigade in full force charging around everywhere trying to support a multi corner fight. Some specifically support one or another opposition party to compete against the WP. This gives the impression that having a multi corner fight is perfectly ok. It could also be read by the shallow minded opposition candidates that the ground is really rooting for them to come forward. And it looks like they are taking the bait, that they have supporters urging them on.

So it is likely that there will be at least a 3 corner fight. Luckily the thinking one like Benjamin Pwee has withdrawn, knowing what the odds are and the real situation on the ground. We need more sensible opposition leaders like Benjamin and those in NSP and SPP to hold the fort with the WP to launch a serious assault on the invincible fortress.

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Events at Punggol East a reprise of Romance of the Three Kingdoms?

The events at Punggol East in the past days fascinates a neutral like me as they remind me of a period in Ancient China (first and second century AD) when the great Han dynasty was crumbling due to various reasons including palace intrigues by shadowy eunuchs and inept emperors. The ensuing civil war threw out legendary figures that remain forever etched in common folklore 

This period is characterized best by Luo Guanzhong’s classic novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” . Click here , here and here.  In attempts to resurrect the Han dynasty, 3 main protagonists from the 3 rival states of Wei (North) , Shu-Han (West) and Wu ( South) played key roles in this troubled time:

1. Wei state’s Cao Cao, the Prime Minister who usurped the authority of the Han by using the young Emperor Xian as a puppet as he is kept like a bird in a “gilded cage” in his capital Xu Chang

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SDP courts WP with hot deal

In the unfolding saga of the Punggol-East by-election, under the "You cannot make this stuff up" department, SDP proposes a joint campaign with Workers' Party.

SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan says:
"In the spirit of compromise and cooperation, we would like to propose that our two parties run a joint campaign and field one candidate from the SDP. If victorious, the SDP candidate will enter Parliament and the WP will run the Punggol East Town Council."

Wah! Good deal leh! WP gets to help SDP get a man into Parliament, then SDP's man keeps the MP allowance and does the speeches in Parliament thing, while WP gets to run the Town Council.

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Chee Soon Juan's selfish agenda exposed - here's the proof

Chee and SDP are so slimey, they make themselves appear to be angels, trying to work out a win-win-win situation with the WP. In reality, their proposal (I wrote about it here - Arrogant SDP shouldn't set terms when it has no record to show) actually is nothing more than asking WP to give up what they have - ie a seat in parliament, in exchange for nothing.

SDP's triple win plan is actually:
1) a seat for themselves in parliament,
2) dirty mundane job of running Town Council done by WP,
3) all risk taken by WP and none by SDP.

That's the "I win, I win, I win" suggestion Chee and gang are talking about in their "win-win-win" plan. Yep, you read it right readers. It is all about WP taking the risks and SDP the benefits.

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Singapore’s political parties shooting themselves in the foot

As Nomination Day for the Punggol East SMC by-election nears, Singapore’s political parties are beginning to lose their marbles.

A number of political parties have indicated their intention to contest in the by-election, prompting criticism from some Singaporeans who believe that a multi-cornered fight would all but guarantee a win for the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP). Then the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) revealed that it had made overtures to the Workers’ Party (WP) – the only alternative party currently in Parliament – about the possibility of fielding a “unity candidate”.

What is a “unity candidate”, you ask? Well, according to the SDP, it means that the two parties would join forces and field one candidate together. (The SDP suggests that the candidate be from the SDP.) And in the event of a win, the SDP candidate would become the newest Member of Parliament… while the WP runs the town council for Punggol East SMC.

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Red herring in Punggol East?

SDP hinted as much when its chairman Jufrie Mahmood said on Wednesday that it could stand down if it opens “the way for cooperation” in the next GE.

Of course, whether the red herring tactic succeeds rest heavily on the WP's willingness to take the bait.

If not, parties which find it embarrassing to back down after their loud public pledges may find themselves contesting an election which they never wanted to be in.

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WP rebuffs SDP's joint campaign proposal

The Workers' Party (WP) said on Saturday it will stick to its own plans to contest in Punggol East, in response to a proposal from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) to field a "unity candidate" for the by-election. "The Workers' Party has noted SDP's proposal. Our focus continues to be fulfilling our promise to offer a choice to voters in Punggol East," said WP media team chair Mr Gerald Giam (above) in a short e-mailed answer to The Straits Times early on Saturday morning. -- ST PHOTO:  DIOS VINCOY JR

The SDP's proposal drew flak from netizens yesterday, who left comments on the SDP's website and Facebook pages criticising the idea as unfairly benefitting SDP.

"If elected, the SDP MP gets a seat and the WP does the work. Please educate me as to how this is a 'compromise'," said one netizen called UncleJames Lee on SDP's Facebook page. 

The WP could reveal its candidate for Punggol East as early as Saturday. Party insiders have tipped Mr Giam, its Non-Constituency MP, as the front runner. 

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Joint campaign? RP says it made similar proposal

Reform Party Kenneth Jeyaretnam speaking to the media after collecting nomination papers at the Elections Department on Jan 11, 2013.  -- PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The Singapore Democratic Party raised eyebrows on Friday when it called a press conference to propose a unique joint venture with the Workers’ Party (WP).

But the Reform Party said it made a similar offer earlier.

RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam was on a walkabout in Punggol East when he heard the news of the offer made by the SDP.

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Which party will win the Punggol East by-election?

We all knew that the ruling party’s worse nightmare happened three weeks before Nomation Day during the 2011 General Election when all the opposition parties came together and strategised so that there would not be a three-cornered fight in any constituency.

When I saw a picture of all the opposition parties’ chiefs sitting round a table curving  out their turf of engagement for the general election, I saw unity and hope for the country.

It is when all the opposition parties could sit down and unite together for a common cause, then the ruling party will shudder and worry.

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The police is looking into the Straits Times' publication of the findings of a poll on the Punggol East by-election, said the Elections Department today. 

The article, published on Jan 10, polled 50 Punggol East residents on which party they were rooting for in the by-election. Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, publishing the results of any election survey from the day the writ of election is issued until the close of all polling stations on polling day is not allowed. The writ of election was issued on Jan 9.

In a statement today, the Elections Department said: "In response to media queries about the poll on the Punggol East By-Election published in the Straits Times on 10 January 2013, the case is currently being looked into by the Police."

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OPINION: Has Straits Times broken the law with Punggol East poll?

Hardwarezone Forum, 11 Jan 2013


Also read:
Man linked to Temasek Review arrested for conducting election exit poll -

Did the Straits Times break the law? -

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Another PAP man to preserve the status quo

On the same day Dr. Koh was introduced, the COE broke new records hitting $92K for small cars. Housing cost rose to the highest in our history.  The middle-class comes under threat as the income gap as the income gap balloons. Discontent is rising as cracks appear in the system that now needs an overhaul.

The so-called meritocratic system is "meritocratic" and working only for a small number of people - the highly talented, the highly connected and the rich. The rest have to work harder to overcome the challenges the system produces - the rapidly rising cost of living and low wages at the bottom. The PAP has policies that consistently benefit those who already have the advantage causing the income gap to expand.

As the PAP spends on tax cuts for the richest and allow businesses to import cheap labor abundantly, the burden of on those at the bottom expanded over time. All systems are good for some of the people most of the time, But the we need a system is good for most of the people most of the time to broaden prosperity. To achieve that outcome we cannot elect another representative whose stated objective is to support and preserve the system. 

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Punggol East: An opposition win?

The first observation that must be made is that if this was a General Election, there would be very little movement of votes away from the PAP to the WP.  A 5% swing in less than 2 years would be difficult to accomplish.  One could safely bet that Punggol East would remain with the PAP.

This is a by-election and we have to consider one important factor that often influences a not-too-insignificant proportion of the Singaporean electorate.  Nationwide, I would guess that about 20% to 25% of voters belong to a category that is unhappy with the current government's policies and yet wouldn't want the PAP government to be replaced.  Note that in the Presidential Election (PE) in 2011 barely a few months after the General Elections (GE), only 35% voted for the PAP 'endorsed' candidate.  25% of the electorate had switched from voting for PAP in the GE to voting for an alternative candidate in the PE.  Given the fact that the issue of whether the PAP would form the government was not at stake, many voters chose an alternative candidate in the PE.

Would the entire 25% be a potential vote bank for the opposition parties?  I don't think so.  During the PE, one attraction away from the PAP endorsed candidate was the existence of an ex-PAP MP (a highly likeable doctor and one that has the reputation of playing the role of an opposing voice within the ruling party) in the form of Dr Tan Cheng Bock.  I do not think that all of the 25% would have been persuaded by an outright opposition candidate.  Perhaps, we could take it that between a third to half of these voters would be open to voting for a credible opposition candidate if they were sure that PAP's rule was not going to be terminated. 

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ST deviously says more Punggol East residents ‘rooting for’ PAP

The Straits Times polled 50 residents in Punggol East and published its results on their paper today (10 Jan) with the heading, “ST poll: More rooting for PAP”.

It said that the opposition “may face an uphill battle in trying to secure control of the ward”.
The poll results are as follows:
  • 19 for PAP (38%)
  • 10 for opposition (20%)
  • 21 undecided (42%)
It wrote, “…those rooting for the People’s Action Party (PAP) outnumbered opposition supporters 19 to 10.”

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One landmine after another

In recent years, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) appears to have set off one political landmine after another.

The latest was the public furore over the party’s purchase of assets, a software programme, developed with public money – via a two-dollar shell company.

After several abortive explanations by party representatives, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stepped in to order an official probe into the deal. It is a political blow to the PAP who will be facing a difficult by-election in two weeks’ on Jan 26.

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PAP’s new boy – more of the same?

Dr. Koh Poh Koon has just been nominated as the PAP candidate for Punggol East. Dr. Koh’s credentials are exceptional.  He has been a grassroots leader and for 10 years (since 2002) has served as an Executive Committee Member at the Telok Blangah Dover Crescent Residents Committee (RC).
Let him answer us the following questions:
  1. Does he live in Punggol East?
  2. Does he own and live in a HDB apartment?
  3. Is he willing to be a full-time MP or is this a part-time job?
  4. Will Dr. Koh Poh Koon surrender or refuse all directorships in listed and other companies he presently hold or will be offered and devote his time entirely to his duties as MP and the community?

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Punggol East by-election announced, Polling Day is Jan 26

In less than a year, Singapore will have a second by-election, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has decided to call for a by-election in Punggol East, less than two months after it fell vacant.

At 4pm on Wednesday, President Tony Tan Keng Yam issued a writ of election setting Nomination Day for next Wednesday. Polling day would be on Jan 26.

The surprise announcement comes just a day after PAP dropped a hint as to who its candidate might be. Colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon had triggered a round of speculation when he appeared at the Meet-the-People session in Punggol East on Tuesday. 

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PM Lee: I wanted to give residents their own MP

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that he called a quick by-election in Punggol East to give residents their own MP in Parliament before the nation focuses back on national issues.

He noted that the country has a busy national agenda this year.

“The White Paper on Population will soon be debated in Parliament. Budget 2013 is around the corner. The Our Singapore Conversation is translating the views of citizens into programmes to improve our lives. Sustaining economic growth and raising workers’ incomes is a continuing preoccupation, especially in a weak global economy,” he said in a statement. 

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Punggol East By-election well-timed to defuse AIM timebomb?

Just yesterday, I had questioned the interesting timing of PM Lee’s directive to the National Development Ministry to conduct a review of the AIM-town council saga.

And today, there was an announcement that the government had called a snap by-election at Punggol East SMC.

Interesting. Parliament sitting starts next Monday and that week is when Workers Party will grill the government on town council management issues related to AIM. 

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Multi-cornered by-election battle favours PAP: analysts

The single-seat constituency is expected to be hotly contested with as many as five parties -- including the Workers' Party, Singapore Democratic Party, the Singapore Democratic Alliance and even the Reform Party. (AFP file photo)
The single-seat constituency is expected to be hotly contested with as many as five parties -- including the Workers' Party, Singapore Democratic Party, the Singapore Democratic Alliance and even the Reform Party. (AFP file photo)

Political analysts say the upcoming by-election in Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) will favour the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), especially if it ends up being a multi-party contest.

Political analyst and political science professor Bridget Welsh said, "the more the opposition is divided, the greater the chances the PAP retains the seat."

"This by-election favours the PAP as the incumbent and given the multi-corner contest. But the issues continue to favour the opposition as a whole," she added.

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By-election will not be easy for the PAP

When analysts started talking about a “new normal” after the last General Election, I’m fairly certain no one imagined the pace and scale of transformation of the political landscape seen thus far.

In a bombshell announcement today, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the second by-election in a year would be held just three weeks from now.

This brings the number of elections to four in less than two years.

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Opposition parties react to Punggol East by-election announcement

Singapore Democratic Alliance Secretary-General Desmond Lim also says the announcement of the by-election is not a surprise and SDA is “operationally-ready”. Mr Lim confirms SDA will contest the by-election but he is not ready to name their candidate.

Mr Lim said, “Well, it’s good to have more than two parties in Parliament. Parliament needs to have a diversified voice, and in case the two parties come into coalition, there will still be other opposition voices in Parliament.”

Mr Lim seems confident that SDA’s votes will increase at least ten-fold to win the seat and be the third party in Parliament, this time around.

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Punggol East SMC – Pre-election Analysis

Just today,  9th January 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called a snap by-election for the 26th January, to fill the vacant electoral seat of Punggol East. The seat was vacated by former Speaker of Parliament, Michael Palmer, after he admitted to an extra-marital affair with a member of the People’s Association. This incident occurred less than 8 months after the previous by-election for the Worker’s Party (WP) held seat of Hougang. The Hougang seat was a WP stronghold and its then recently elected Member of Parliament (MP), Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from the party for his lack of accountability on his rumoured extramarital affair.

While the cause of both by-elections was the same – lust, the similarity ends there. Palmer resigned, while Yaw was sacked from the party. The Hougang seat was a long time opposition strong hold while the Punggol East seat was a new electoral division. One could make a strong argument that marital infidelity does not make one a useless MP, but that is another topic for another time. For Singaporeans, many used to voting drought, the recent flood of elections (4 since 2011) has certainly enlivened the political atmosphere. Singapore Pools should take bets for when the next by-election would be held!

The Hougang seat was a straight fight between the WP and the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). In contrast, the Punggol East seat will probably see more candidates than that. Already, the PAP has showcased a presumptive candidate, the WP declared its intention to contest the day Palmer’s seat was lost, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP),  Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), Reform Party (RP) and independent candidate Benjamin Pwee have all thrown their hats into the ring.

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Punggol East by election has to be one on one

This is a truism that everyone knows. Anything other than this is a waste of time for the opposition parties. Are the opposition parties really going to go for a 5 corner fight or 3 corner fight?

I believe they are sensible people and will not let selfish interest, pride or ego get in the way and make a fool out of every one of them. And the joke will be on them if they do so. The other theory is that the moles will appear to do the most damage possible as this by election is going to be another big step for the opposition should they take another seat from the PAP.

How would it end up on nomination day? All the posturing and chest thumping could be just that and sanity would rule and a proper and real contest will be set up on polling day. That is what everyone wish to see, everyone who wants to see a good fight.

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Singapore to Wage By-Election Battle After Sex Scandal

After a sex scandal ended the fledgling political career of Singapore’s parliamentary speaker, the city-state’s longtime rulers will face voters this month for the third time in less than two years and again put their policy platform to the test.

The by-election, called by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday, comes just months after voters replaced an opposition parliamentarian forced out by a similar scandal. The opposition Workers’ Party held on to the seat in a poll it characterized as a referendum on government policies.

Whoever wins the new contest on Jan. 26, the ruling People’s Action Party—currently fielding 80 members in an 87-seat Parliament—will keep the grip on power it has held since 1959. But analysts say the by-election could take the public’s temperature on the government’s performance in tackling issues like high housing costs, infrastructure shortcomings, and a widening gap between rich and poor — concerns that remain despite measures taken after the PAP’s slimmest-ever general election win in May 2011.

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By-E is Here! Woohoo!

So soon! I thought it would be after Budget when all the angpows are handed out, during the March school holidays and the AIM saga buried. The PAP is instead stormed head-on into this election. Good for them, good for Punggol East SMC voters!

I watched news earlier and Jufrie from CMI SDP said that it was too soon and they were not fully prepared yet. Sounds like clearing their throats and giving excuses that they would back out from this By-E! Well, at least his boss Chee Soon Juan said they were ready for the fight. Desmond Lim the fat dick from also-CMI SDA who did not even get his deposit back in 2011 is confident though that he is surely getting into the brawl. Good for him! Hope he doesn't mind losing his deposit again, and should see it like the $100 fee for locals to enter the casinos and try their luck with the dice.

Is Reform Party walking the talk and also getting into the game? Kenneth seemed less confident than earlier and might also u-turn on his earlier bravado about the high stakes game with PAP and WP. 

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Will we have a watershed by-election?

Will we have a watershed by-election? As far as I can recall, the PAP has never failed to call every general election a “watershed” election. Each election always seems more important than the last, the stakes always seem to be higher. This by-election may well be as important as a general election.

Although the trigger for the Punggol East by-election is virtually the same as the trigger for the Hougang by-election in 2012, I suspect Mr Palmer and his mangoes will appropriately take a back seat as there are far more immediate and important issues that will occupy both the minds of voters as well as politicians.

The first and foremost issue is the AIMgate fiasco which has threatened to expose various conflicts of interest between the town councils and the ruling party. Although PM Lee has directed that the Ministry of National Development review the transaction between the town councils and AIM, questions regarding the impartiality of the investigation will persist, as would many pertinent questions that have been asked by bloggers such as Alex Au.

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Hear Only The Good Stuff

The Prime Minister has issued a press statement on the Punggol East by-election; barring further adverse developments and unforeseen circumstances, Polling Day will be held on Jan 26. 

What he said:. I hope Punggol East residents will vote for the candidate who can best represent them in Parliament, solve their problems and improve their lives.

What we heard: Finally, we get to elect someone who will voice our problems in parliament and improve our lives. Maybe. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Singapore ruling party in poll test amid growing discontent

The January 26 by-election will give a new snapshot of the public mood two years after the People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the city-state for more than half a century, suffered its worst ever general election result.

Public discontent has been rising over issues such as immigration -- with foreigners blamed for overcrowding and putting pressure on public services -- rising prices and a widening income gap.

The Elections Department announced the by-election for the seat in Punngol East ward, which had been held by former Speaker Michael Palmer, 44.

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Parties eyeing in the single member contituency

PAP fields Koh Poh Koon as its candidate for by-election

The ruling People's Action Party will field surgeon Dr Koh Poh Koon as its candidate in the Punggol East by-election.

He was introduced as the party's choice on Thursday morning, a day after the Writ of Election was issued by the President.

The ward was left vacant after its former MP Michael Palmer resigned last month due to an extra-marital affair.

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low thia khiang

The Workers' party Secretary General Low Thia Khiang says the party is ready to contest the by-election in Punggol East SMC. 

Speaking to the media before the start of his Meet-the-People Session this evening, he said the party will announce the candidate in due course but the logistics are ready for the by-election. 

When asked about the timing of the by election, Mr Low said that it is good that the prime minister has decided to call a by election as soon as possible.

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PM presses panic button

The announcement by the Prime Minister of a by-election on such a tight deadline has come as no surprise.

Following the Singapore Democratic Party’s announcement of our intention to stand and our strong showing at the constituency on Sunday and Monday (6 and 7 January 2013), the Prime Minister’s snap decision is clearly a sign of his reluctance for the SDP’s message to gain widespread traction.

The Government is beset by a worsening economic climate and little clarity in his direction for the country. It is also troubled by disturbing questions relating to the AIM town council software debacle. It has demonstrated inability in reining in runaway housing prices.

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Reform Party mulling Punggol East by-election contest

Reform Party's Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam has said his party is "strongly considering" whether or not to contest the upcoming Punggol East by-election.

But Mr Jeyaretnam said he will be the candidate fielded if the party does decide to do so.

He added that he would re-locate to live in Punggol East if he is elected.

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Others eyeing in the by-election

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), which picked up nomination forms yesterday, submitted two applications for political donations certificates, a prerequisite for standing in an election.

Mr Mohamad Hamim Aliyas collects one set of nomination forms at the Elections Department on 11 January 2013. (Photo: Francine Lim
Mr Mohamad Hamim Aliyas, Former Singspore People's Party member, collects one set of nomination forms at the Elections Department on 11 January 2013. (Photo: Francine Lim

Zeng Guoyan, who failed to stand in the 2012 Hougang by-election and 2011 General Election, makes another try, collecting nomination papers for the Punggol East by-election, minutes before the Elections Department closed on Thursday - 10 Jan 2013

Raring to "fight" is Ooi Boon Ewe, flashing the nomination forms to stand as an independent candidate in the Punggol East by-election, despite failing in the 2011 General and Presidential elections (photo: Francine Lim, channelnewsasia) - 10 Jan 2013

Continued from: Will there be a by-election in Punggol East?