The ruling People’s Action Party is expected to retain the Punggol East seat vacated by former Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer on December 12 after an extramarital affair. Nevertheless, almost all the opposition parties seem to contest the by-election called on January 26. The single-member constituency has a younger, more middle-class demographic, reports the Straits Times.
The single-seat ward was carved out of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency just before the 2011 parliamentary election.
The ethnic mix is typical of Singapore townships.
Three quarters of the residents are less than 50 years old.
There are no three-room Housing Board flats in the area.
The ruling People’s Action Party won the seat handily in the 2011 parliamentary election.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has surprised political observers by calling a snap poll so soon. They were expecting the by-election to be held after Parliament met to pass the budget and discuss other matters. PM Lee, however, explained yesterday why he wanted the by-election now. He said:
We have a busy national agenda this year. The White Paper on Population will soon be debated in Parliament. Budget 2013 is around the corner. The Our Singapore Conversation is translating the views of citizens into programmes to improve our lives. Sustaining economic growth and raising workers’ incomes is a continuing preoccupation, especially in a weak global economy.
I have decided to hold a by-election in Punggol East to give the residents their own MP in Parliament, before we focus back on these national issues.
This is the second by-election since the May 2011 parliamentary election. The opposition Workers’ Party retained its Hougang seat in the previous by-election, in May 2012, after the incumbent Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from the party following an extramarital affair. All the six opposition members among the 86 elected members in Parliament at present belong to the Workers’ Party. The Workers’ Party, which lost in Punggol East in a three-cornered contest in the May 2011 election, plans to put up a candidate this time, too. It is a new constituency which was carved out of the six-member Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency in time for the 2011 elections..