Singapore vote test for PAP
Singapore voters were casting their ballots on Saturday in a byelection seen as a referendum on reforms initiated by the ruling party to address rising discontent.
- Published: 26/05/2012 at 02:48 PM
- Newspaper section: breakingnews
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shakes hands with a PAP supporter at a rally on Thursday.
The People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the city-state since before independence, is hoping to capture the opposition bastion of Hougang, which has been held by the Workers' Party for 21 years.
The Hougang seat was left vacant in February after the Workers' Party sacked its representative over allegations of extramarital affairs, giving the PAP an opportunity to redeem itself if it takes the seat.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has put his reputation on the line by campaigning all-out for PAP candidate, Desmond Choo, 34, who is up against the Workers' Party's Png Eng Huat, 50.
It is Singapore's first byelection since the PAP suffered its worst showing yet in a general election 12 months ago.
The PAP was jolted when it got an all-time low of 60% of all votes cast and the opposition grabbed an unprecedented six seats in the 87-member parliament. The PAP, in power for 53 years, holds the rest.
Issues such as a liberal immigration policy, a growing income gap, high salaries of cabinet ministers and overcrowding in public transport were seen to have frayed the PAP vote, analysts said.
The PAP-led government swung into action after the election rebuke, stepping up construction of public housing flats, budgeting hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade public transport as well as reducing the foreign worker intake.
Cabinet ministers also took a pay cut but they remain the highest-paid politicians in the world, with the prime minister still receiving a basic annual salary of S$2.2 million (4.5 million baht a month).
Singapore says the high salaries are designed to deter corruption and attract talented people from the private sector.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
- Position: News agency