SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party team led by Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen has retained Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, beating the Singapore People's Party (SPP) for the third consecutive time with 67.26 per cent of the votes.
Although the four-man PAP team successfully defended the party stronghold, the winning margin is slimmer than in 2015 when the incumbents secured 73.59 per cent of the votes.
With a total of 101,366 registered voters, it is the smallest GRC as it has been reduced from a five- to a four-member constituency.
The PAP team comprised Dr Ng, 61, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat, 46, Mr Saktiandi Supaat, 46, and Mr Chong Kee Hiong, 54.
They faced an SPP team led by party secretary-general and former Non-Constituency MP Steve Chia, 49, which included party vice-chairman and first-time candidate Williamson Lee, 40, former Reform Party candidate Osman Sulaiman, 45, and former candidate for the now-defunct Singaporeans First party Melyvn Chiu, 40.
Both parties previously contested Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in the 2011 and 2015 general elections, with the PAP taking 56.93 per cent and 73.59 per cent of the votes respectively.
In a video addressed to residents of the group representation constituency posted on social media after the official results were announced, Dr Ng said he and his team were deeply humbled by the trust and confidence given to them by their voters.
"Thank you for giving us this strong mandate to serve you," he said.
The PAP's Mr Chee acknowledged the effort put in by the SPP team and said both sides campaigned with dignity and mutual respect.
"Now that the election is over, I hope all Singaporeans will come together as one united people and focus our attention and energy on tackling this crisis of a generation that our country is currently facing," he added.
Mr Chia, speaking to The Straits Times at the counting centre in Raffles Institution earlier at about 10.20pm, said win or lose, the SPP would start preparations for the general election "tomorrow".
"Whatever the result, we will accept it with grace and humility because we understand that it takes great courage and conviction to believe that somebody new will be able to do the job and do it better than the PAP," said Mr Chia, pledging that the SPP will return to the same GRC in the next election.
The SPP contested in only two constituencies in this election, the other being Potong Pasir where its party chairman Jose Raymond, 48, lost to PAP incumbent Sitoh Yih Pin, who has been MP for the single seat since 2011.
Without the bluster of mass public rallies, both sides ran low-key campaigns - going door to door, visiting markets and coffee shops, distributing fliers and manifestos, and tapping social media.
The PAP team campaigned hard to continue improving local amenities, bolstering local programmes for vulnerable families and the elderly, and helping residents find jobs amid the Covid-19 crisis and a gloomy economic outlook.
The GRC has one of the highest proportions of seniors - about 70,000 of the 190,000 residents will be above 60 years old by 2030.
Mr Chia and his team, on the other hand, had pushed for more diversity in Parliament and an end to the PAP's supermajority.