SINGAPORE: The Punggol East by—election is the 16th by—election to be held in Singapore and it is also the second in exactly eight months.
The last time Singaporeans went to the polls in a by—election was on 26 May 2012. The single seat of Hougang fell vacant, after the Workers’ Party (WP) expelled Yaw Shin Leong in February 2012 for refusing to account for his personal indiscretions — just nine months after he was elected.
It was a straight fight between the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Desmond Choo and the WP’s Png Eng Huat.
Over 23,000 people were eligible to vote.
And the incumbent WP won with about 62 per cent of valid votes.
The Hougang by—election was the first to be called in 20 years after a by—election in Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency in 1992. Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong called for one, to inject new blood into the PAP’s ranks.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean was introduced as a candidate to replace the outgoing Lim Chee Onn.
It was a four—cornered fight, with the Singapore Justice Party, Singapore Democratic Party and National Solidarity Party joining the fray.
The PAP won with 73 per cent of votes.
And before the 1992 Marine Parade by—election, there was a by—election in Anson in 1981. This after incumbent PAP MP Devan Nair resigned to become President.
It was a three—cornered fight between PAP’s Pang Kim Hin, United People’s Front’s Harbans Singh, and Workers’ Party’s J.B. Jeyaretnam.
The WP won with 51 per cent of votes — making it the first time an opposition MP has won a seat in Parliament since the 1968 General Election.
When a seat falls vacant, the Prime Minister has the full discretion when to call for a by—election under the constitution.
In recent years, the deaths of PAP MPs Dr Ong Chit Chung in 2008 and Dr Balaji Sadasivan in 2010 had fuelled talk of by—elections but these did not take place.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that a vacancy does not affect the mandate of the government nor its ability to deliver on programmes and promises.
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