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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid