SINGAPORE – The People’s Action Party team led by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC has defeated a Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) team with 63.18 per cent of the votes on Saturday (July 11).
The four-member lineup includes Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad, 45, two-term MP Alex Yam, 39, and lawyer Hany Soh, 33.
The SDP team comprises business development strategist Benjamin Pwee, 52, education consultant Damanhuri Abas, 49, account manager Khung Wai Yeen, 38, and Mr Bryan Lim, 43, an assistant director at a local hospital,
Marsiling-Yew Tee was introduced as a new electoral division in 2015. It was created in response to an influx of new Housing Board flats in the north of Singapore. It had 110,363 voters, up from the 107,599 tally in the last election.
The margin of victory is a decline from the results of the 2015 election, when Mr Wong co-anchored the PAP team with then Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob to victory with a 68.7 per cent of the votes against an SDP side.
Madam Halimah later resigned as Speaker and MP in 2017 to stand in the presidential election.
Mr Zaqy, who was grassroots adviser to Choa Chu Kang GRC where he was an MP, took on a similar role in Marsiling-Yew Tee and worked with the three remaining MPs there.
Speaking to The Straits Times at the PAP Limbang Branch, Mr Zaqy acknowledged the drop in vote share and said: “I’m new so it’s a it’s a learning journey for me in terms of understanding the electorate, to also analyze and see the areas I can improve, which of our program resonated with our voters and which we need to improve further…
“I’m just thankful to Marsiling Yew Tee residents for giving us a mandate forward for us to serve you for the next five years.
“There are two concerns on the ground, the Covid-19 pandemic, the economy and jobs. These are important things in which we also need to look at and how we can keep Singaporeans safe and maintain their livelihood… We will strive to help Singaporeans tide over this crisis.”
This year’s contest between the two teams in Marsiling-Yew Tee had largely been cordial, with members of both parties posing for photos with each other on two occasions during the nine-day campaign.
Both Mr Wong and SDP’s Mr Pwee had known each other from their time in the civil service. The latter had spoke of the contest being a “friendly but serious showdown”.
But things heated up on Wednesday (July 8), when Mr Wong delivered a strongly-worded criticism of SDP during an online rally.
He said the SDP had no qualms about spreading falsehoods, had been bombarding voters with negativity and did not account for how it will fund its manifesto proposals.
“Now, we always welcome different views and perspectives, to enrich our debates, and to help formulate better policies for the benefit of all Singaporeans,” he said.
“But our debates must always be grounded in facts, not falsehoods or distorted half-truths.”
Mr Wong also said SDP had been trying to claim undue credit for upgrading projects in Marsiling-Yew Tee, without elaborating on what these projects were.
On the accusation about claiming undeserved credit, Mr Pwee flagged SDP’s work in raising awareness about two blocks in Marsiling that could not get lift access on every floor.
It started a petition on the issue in January. In March, the Government announced a grant to help residents affected by lift-upgrading issues to move out.
SDP, which had also published a list of how it plans to fund its spending, then issued a separate another response through its chairman, Professor Paul Tambyah,
Prof Tambyah said: “Unfortunately, Minister Wong, like many of the other ministers, has been reluctant to engage us on (manifesto) issues but has resorted to personal attacks and mischaracterisation of our campaign.”
He added: “We need to highlight issues which affect the quality of life of our residents no matter how negative these may appear.”