Ruling Peoples Action Party wins elections in Singapore

Singapore: Singapore`s ruling People`s Action Party (PAP) has returned to power with an absolute majority winning 81 of the 87 seats in the keenly contested general elections.

Rival Workers` Party (WP) took the other six seats, winning for the first time a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) of five members, and retaining a single member parliamentary seat of Hougang under the leadership of veteran opposition politician Low Thia Khiang.

Though this year`s election mandate was strong, PAP`s overall vote share was reduced to 60.4 per cent from about 67 per cent in the 2006 general elections.

The PAP had faced issues related to influx of foreign workers, higher cost of housing caused by high net worth expatriates, housing affordability, rising cost of living for the locals, the slower progress on transportation, and the high salaries for the ministers in the prosperous city state.

Addressing journalists in a post-election press meet early today, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans to close ranks and work together, pledging to "put right what is wrong" and engage the public in more decisions and trade-offs on major policies.

Lee said he was disappointed over PAP`s defeat in Aljunied GRC, which cost the government two ministers and failed to win back the Hougang from WP.

Though the PAP had a strong mandate, Lee noted frustrations, grievances and unfulfilled aspirations of Singaporeans during the nine-day campaigning by political parties for 82 of the 87 seats.

PAP took the Tanjong Pagar GRC on nomination day on April 27 when the opposition failed to file their papers in time, winning five seats led by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore and also Prime Minister Lee`s father.

"We hear all your voices, whether it`s expressed in person or over the Internet. The PAP will analyse the results of the elections, learn from what has emerged in this general election, put right what is wrong, improve on what can be made better, and also improve ourselves to serve Singaporeans better," local media quoted Lee as saying.

He also assured that the government would work hard on its own with "a population of passive but engaging Singaporeans in the more difficult decisions and trade-offs which governing Singapore involves".

Foreign minister George Yeo along with cabinet minister Lim Hwee Hua and senior Minister of State Zailnul Abidin Rasheed, a sitting member of parliament Cynthia Phua and newcomer Ong Ye Kung lost the Aljunied GRC by a margin of 9.4 per cent to WP.

WP leader Low led party chairman Sylvia Lim, and first timers Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, corporate lawyer Chen Show Mao, and postgraduate law student Pritam Singh in defeating PAP for the first time in the GRC, a unique grouping parliamentarians in electing minority representation from the pre-dominantly Chinese population in Singapore.

Overall, PAP received 60.14 per cent of the total votes from the 2.05 million voters and WP took 12.82 per cent.

The rest of the votes were taken by the other contesting parties – National Solidarity Party which took 12.04 per cent, Reform Party 4.28 per cent, Singapore Democratic Alliance 2.8 per cent, Singapore Democratic Party 4.83 per cent, Singapore People`s Party 3.1 per cent.

A total of 2.057 million or 93.06 per cent of the 2.21 million Singaporeans voted yesterday.

The PAP, in power since 1959 under the stewardship of Lee Kuan Yew, held 82 of the 84 seats in the last parliament elected in 2006, with vote support of 67 per cent.

Singapore, rated among the world`s top commerce, trade and financial centres, is projected to post an economic growth of between four per cent and six per cent this year, a follow on to last year`s 14.5 per cent, having rebounded strongly from the global economic meltdown of mid-2008 and 2009.