Saturday January 26, 2013
Singapore's ruling PAP hit by fresh poll loss
SINGAPORE (AFP): Singapore's ruling party suffered a fresh rebuke from voters on Saturday when it lost a parliamentary by-election despite promises of more reforms to appease a restive electorate.
The opposition Workers' Party trounced the People's Action Party (PAP), which has been in power for more than 50 years, following a campaign dominated by issues such as the rising cost of living and widening income gaps.
Workers' Party candidate Lee Li Lian, 34, a middle-class corporate trainer, comfortably beat PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon, 40, a prominent surgeon who was strongly backed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
"The PAP will continue to work to improve the lives of Singaporeans, and present our report card for voters to judge in the next general elections," Lee said in a statement after the results were announced.
The PAP has now lost two by-elections in less than a year after suffering its worst performance in a general election in May 2011.
Saturday's vote was called to fill a seat left empty when speaker Michael Palmer stepped down and quit the PAP in December after he confessed to an extramarital affair.
The Workers' Party now holds seven seats in the 87-member parliament, with the PAP occupying the rest.
In the 2011 general election, the PAP garnered an all-time low of 60 percent of all votes cast despite being widely credited with Singapore's rapid rise to prosperity.
The PAP first came to power in 1959 when colonial ruler Britain introduced self-rule in Singapore, which became a republic in 1965 after a brief union with Malaysia.