SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party's (PAP) Murali Pillai is leading in the Bukit Batok by-election with 61 per cent of the votes, according to the sample count released at 9.24pm.
The Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) Chee Soon Juan has 39 per cent of the votes, said the Elections Department in a statement on Saturday (May 7).
The sample count result, which gives an early indication of the possible by-election result, is derived from a random count of 100 ballot papers from each of the nine polling stations in Bukit Batok.
"As this is a sample count, the election result could be different," ELD said in its statement. "Counting is still in progress. The public should wait for the announcement of the election result by the Returning Officer, Mr Ng Wai Choong, which will be broadcast live on television."
Mr Murali, 48, and Dr Chee, 53, are the only candidates contesting the by-election. It was called after the PAP's incumbent MP David Ong stepped down in March because of a "personal indiscretion", said to be an extra-marital affair with a grassroots activist.
There are 25,727 registered electors in the single-member constituency.
In the September 2015 general election, Mr Ong got 73 per cent of the vote share against the SDP's Sadasivam Veriyah (26.4 per cent) and independent candidate Samir Salim Neji (0.6 per cent).
Sample counts were introduced at the 2015 general election to forestall speculation of results as official counts were underway.
Sample counts last September had correctly indicated all the eventual winners in each of the 16 Group Representation Constituencies and 13 SMCs contested. According to the ELD, sample counts have a confidence level of 95 per cent, with a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
In 2015, Bukit Batok's sample count was released at 9.37pm and showed Mr Ong getting 74 per cent of the vote. The ward's full result was out at about 1.20am.
Both Mr Murali and Dr Chee were on the campaign trail for nine days.
Mr Murali, former chairman of the PAP's Bukit Batok branch who contested the 2015 election in Aljunied GRC, pledged to roll out a host of social initiatives for Bukit Batok residents.
Dr Chee, secretary-general of the SDP, promised to be a full-time MP and speak out for Singaporeans in Parliament, as well as run a town council that surpasses the performance of PAP-run ones.