People's Action Party (PAP) loyalists feared the worst when they saw crowds swarm around Dr Chee Soon Juan whenever the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief turned up in Holland Bukit-Timah GRC during campaigning. Some lined up to take photographs with the former psychology lecturer, who had to sit out two elections after being bankrupted by defamation lawsuits.
All the expectations of a tough fight between the incumbent PAP team and the SDP faded when the announcement came that the PAP had won the GRC with 66.62 per cent of the votes.
Residents expressed surprise that the team led by Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan did so well despite the publicity that the SDP team, which includes tenured medical professor Paul Tambyah, received.
"I'm surprised by the high percentage of votes. We thought the opposition was quite strong," said Mr Hu Hong Yao, 27, a fresh graduate. "The SDP - they were strong on social media and on Facebook, and at rallies, they got very good response."
Another resident who was pleasantly surprised was housewife Vineswari R. Ratnaval, 36, a volunteer with the PAP, who said: "It was a very tough battle. During the walkabouts, we came across a lot of people who were not nice to us.
"I was very worried SDP might win. But we just went ahead with the walkabouts and voted."
But another resident, Mr Tan Shuo Yan, 28, felt the PAP's good performance in Holland-Bukit Timah made sense in the wider context of the national swing towards the ruling party.
"I hope that my representatives will use the stronger mandate to deliver on more inclusive and empathetic policies and politics," he said.
Tan Hui Yee and Yeo Sam Jo