Singapore GE2020: Workers’ Party wipeout argument a ‘tactic’, expect hard fight, says PM Lee Hsien Loong

Senior Political Correspondent

SINGAPORE – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has described the Workers’ Party (WP) suggestion that the People’s Action Party could win all 93 seats in the next Parliament as an unrealistic outcome and a “tactic”.

In fact, there will be a “hard fight” because people are hurting from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, he told reporters on Monday (June 29) at the unveiling of candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC, which he helms.

“Although we are in crisis and people want a strong government, at the same time, many people are hurting badly – those who have lost their jobs, those whose pay has been substantially reduced, those who are very worried about whether they will find their first job, or whether they will lose their job some time in the next months or years.

“So there are real problems on the ground which cause people concern, and we can feel it,” PM Lee said in his response to a reporter’s question.

On Sunday, WP chief Pritam Singh said at the unveiling of his party’s manifesto that there is a real risk of a “wipeout” for the opposition this general election.

The group representation constituency that it helms – Aljunied – is the only opposition-held GRC, which it won for the second time in the 2015 General Election with a smaller margin.

Mr Singh also said earlier that the WP’s goal of winning one-third of the seats in Parliament remains unchanged, even though it is not contesting enough seats to achieve the target in this election.

There will be 93 seats for elected members in the next Parliament. Amendments to Singapore’s Constitution require a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

PM Lee called the WP argument a tactical one, adding that it is also using reverse psychology.

The WP, he said, had been overconfident in the 2015 General Election. It had made clear then that its goal was to form the Government one day.

“I think voters showed that they were not ready for the WP to do such a thing.”

In 2015, the WP won Aljunied GRC by a razor-thin margin in the general election, or 50.95 per cent of the vote share. The PAP wrested back then Punggol East SMC from the WP.

Overall, the PAP secured a strong mandate with a popular vote share of 69.9 per cent.

This was an almost 10 percentage point increase from the 60.1 per cent it got in the 2011 General Election.

PM Lee said: “So this time (the WP is) trying to do the opposite to paint the possibility that they will lose and, therefore, hope that through reverse psychology, people will vote for them to make sure that they’re not going to be wiped out.

“But I can tell you that I don’t take that attitude at all. And we will fight to win every vote and every seat, but I know that in Singapore, there is a certain balance, and I don’t think that balance will be completely upset this election.”

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