Singapore’s prime minister yesterday lauded the city-state’s youth vote for helping return his party to power in a massive election victory and reversing a worrying drop in popularity it suffered in the previous polls four years ago.
The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) secured 83 of the 89 seats in the Singaporean Parliament, while the opposition Workers’ Party captured six in Friday’s elections.
“It is a good result for the PAP, but it is an excellent result for Singapore,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said early yesterday, after final results were announced.
He said the result would not have been possible without broad support from all sections of society.
“And in particular, it could not have been done without strong support from the young... It shows that the young people understand what is at stake, support what we are doing, really to secure a bright future for Singapore,” he said.
The PAP’s victory was never in doubt — it has won every election since independence in 1965 — but what was notable was the percentage of votes it secured: nearly 70 percent of all votes cast, compared with 60 percent in the 2011 elections.
A day after the election, candidates of various political parties were up early to thank residents through walkabouts and victory parades in open-top vehicles.
The huge sweep means the struggling opposition made no headway despite highlighting problems like income disparity, restrictions on free speech, overcrowding caused by immigration, infrequent breakdowns in public transportation and the rising cost of living.
The PAP had campaigned on the theme that voting for the opposition would produce a second-rate government and squander the economic gains achieved over the past 50 years.
The message resonated with voters and perhaps even scared the fence-sitters into going back to a tried and trusted party, resulting in the stronger mandate for the PAP.
“All this is a mandate for authoritarianism and brainwashing. It shows what you do when you control everybody’s housing, you control their savings, you control their jobs, because you’re the major employer, you control all the media,” Reform Party Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam said.
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