Letter of the week: GE results show PSP has potential

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) supporters hold the PSP flag at Nan Hua High School nomination centre on June 30, 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Straits Times Opinion Editor Chua Mui Hoong rightly points out that the Workers' Party (WP) may have won over many younger voters and middle-class households. However, she is too quick to dismiss the other opposition parties' performance (A result that could please voters from both sides, July 11).

She did not sufficiently discuss the potential challenges that the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) brings to the People's Action Party (PAP). Here are three reasons why PSP and not just WP should be considered leading opposition parties in Singapore:

First, WP and PSP came within striking distance of clinching East Coast and West Coast GRCs. We cannot be sure the PAP would have retained those seats had it not introduced heavyweight ministers.

Second, the PSP caused the biggest downward swings in the PAP's constituency vote share in the PAP's traditional vote banks in the west of Singapore.

While PSP pulled the PAP vote share in West Coast GRC down by nearly 27 percentage points, it also reduced the PAP vote share by 18 points in Chua Chu Kang GRC and more than 14 percentage points in Tanjong Pagar GRC. Hong Kah North SMC and Pioneer SMC also presented downward swings of more than 12.5 points for the PAP.

Third, all PSP-contested wards presented lower proportions of spoilt votes compared with the nationwide statistic of 1.8 per cent of all votes being spoilt. The same goes for WP. More spoilt votes would suggest more voters reject the incumbents but do not have confidence in the challengers.

For instance, Radin Mas SMC had the highest spoilt vote proportion of 3.47 per cent when voters had to choose between a PAP candidate and a Reform Party candidate who did not show up to record his own televised constituency broadcast.

We may conclude that there is reasonably strong interest from citizens in the PSP's main talking points of accountability and transparency from the Government. Not bad, considering how new the PSP is.

Assuming party founder Tan Cheng Bock pulls off a convincing strategy to develop the PSP so it can expand its outreach, field even better candidates, present a broader and higher-quality manifesto, and, most crucially, ensure the party can survive after he leaves, the PSP may form a third pole in Singaporean electoral politics.

Soon Hao Jing

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