News / Asia

Singapore Election is Most Contested Since Independence

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Wong gestures during the final election campaign rally of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore, May 5, 2011
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Wong gestures during the final election campaign rally of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore, May 5, 2011
Daniel Schearf

Singaporeans are going to the polls Saturday for the most contested election since 1965, when the city-state gained independence from Britain.  The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled post-independence Singapore, is expected to win.  But analysts say it is facing increasing challenges that have eroded its popularity. 

The PAP of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has ruled Singapore since 1965.

Until recently, analysts say, opposition parties have been unwilling or unable to challenge PAP rule.  

The party's policies have changed the city-state from a poor, colonial port into a rich, regional hub for business.

And, unlike most Asian countries dominated by a single party, Singapore is a beacon of prosperity and good governance.

But in Saturday's election, opposition candidates are competing for all but five of parliament's 87 seats, making it the most contested poll since independence.

Gillian Koh, a researcher on politics and governance at Singapore’s Institute of Policy Studies, says opposition parties agree with most PAP policies, making competition difficult.

"The People's Action Party has been in government for 52 years because it has delivered on good governance, on economic development," Koh said. "But, its detractors have always said the pace of political development has always paled in comparison."

In past elections opposition parties, aware of their chances, contested only a fraction of available offices and have held, at most, just a few seats in parliament.

But, Koh says they have been able to capitalize on recent discontent with the PAP over rising costs of living, government accountability, and immigration.

Foreign workers make up about one-third of Singapore’s population, leading many Singaporeans to complain about competition for jobs and clogged public transport.

Consequently, the PAP’s share of the popular vote dropped from 75 percent in the 2001 election to 67 percent in 2006.

Koh says despite public grumbling and the unprecedented challenge at the polls, the PAP remains immensely popular for its effective response to public concerns.  

"The PAP's fundamental legitimacy stands on its ability to deliver growth and also on being clean," Koh said.  "Because, when it first came to power, how it presented itself was that it was really the opposite of what existed in Singapore at that time.  And, it’s realized that it has to keep those pillars of legitimacy."

The government has already revised immigration controls and promised to improve transport and social services.  

In the lead up to the election, authorities also allowed some opposition criticism in the normally tightly controlled state media and the Internet.

The PAP has been accused of using defamation lawsuits to silence critics and harsh punishments for drug dealers and vandals to maintain order.

Singapore also outlaws political discussion of race and religion.

Prime Minister Lee’s father and Singapore’s architect, Lee Kuan Yew, co-founded the party and argues the controls are necessary to prevent splits in society.

He was prime minister under the PAP until 1990, and remains an advisor in the cabinet.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.

All About America

AppleAndroid