Why the GE2015 vote swung to the PAP: Ng Eng Hen

PAP's Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP-elects (from left) Chong Kee Hiong, Saktiandi Supaat, Ng Eng Hen, Josephine Teo and Chee Hong Tat during their victory parade.
PAP's Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP-elects (from left) Chong Kee Hiong, Saktiandi Supaat, Ng Eng Hen, Josephine Teo and Chee Hong Tat during their victory parade.ST PHOTO: CHARISSA YONG

SINGAPORE - The GE2015 swing of votes towards the People's Action Party (PAP) was a result of several factors, said organising secretary Ng Eng Hen on Saturday (Sept 12), adding that the party was thankful for and humbled by Singaporeans' support.

First, he said, Singaporeans had been reminded of the country's progress since Independence, by events such as the SG50 celebrations, the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in March and the National Day celebrations in August.

Their realisation of Singapore's progress was all the more stark in light of its neighbours' current troubles, he said.

He added: "The contrast helped bring home the message that Singapore is special and I think it made Singaporeans... ask themselves: 'Why is it we've done so well and what is it that has enabled us?' "

One answer was that Singapore had a stable political leadership and system, Dr Ng told reporters during a procession through Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, where he led the PAP team to a victory over the Singapore People's Party with 73.6 per cent of the vote.

The morning after Polling Day, Dr Ng and his garland-wearing teammates Josephine Teo, Chee Hong Tat, Chong Kee Hiong and Saktiandi Supaat rode on lorries through Bishan and Toa Payoh, greeting and thanking residents and local merchants along the way.

The PAP won a national average of 69.86 per cent of the popular vote, up from the 60.1 per cent it had received in the last election in 2011.

The second factor behind this jump, said Dr Ng, was because the PAP had spent a lot of time on the ground listening to what residents wanted.

He said: "To residents, it's actually vital that you take care of their interests. If you say that you don't find that the priority, I think it affected them, and I think you lose support when you don't understand that.

"Residents want MPs who can do both, speak in Parliament as well as take care of their needs in their towns."

He added that in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, he and his team pushed for facilities and programmes that improved residents' lives, such as community scholarships and elderly fitness stations "so they could see the immediacy of good MPs".

Third, he said, Singapore had credible political leaders - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Government - who have integrity and had rolled out policies over the last four years.

Dr Ng also thought the issue of town council management, which had been hotly debated during the hustings, was a significant factor.

"It's not only just about technical issues but how MPs must approach it (managing a town council) in a way that is open, accountable, transparent and with integrity.

"If the town council factor is a significant issue, which I think it is, voters are saying I want high standards from everybody," he added.

When asked if the ballot box result meant that Singaporeans were not in favour of a two-party system, Dr Ng replied that Singaporeans were in favour of high standards.

He said: "What voters are saying is that if you have good candidates then whether it's two, three or four parties, first of all, they must prove themselves to be credible, honest, have integrity.

"And then they will choose."