1997 Singaporean general election

General elections were held in Singapore on 2 January 1997. 765,332 out of the eligible 1.8 million voters voted and selected their next government. The election results was released in the late evening that day and the ruling People's Action Party won a total of 81 out of 83 seats as well as a tenth consecutive term in office under the then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Other major political parties contesting in the election were the Workers' Party, Singapore Democratic Party, National Solidarity Party, Singapore People's Party and the Democratic Progressive Party.

1997 Singaporean general election

← 1991 2 January 1997 2001 →

83 seats (Plus 1 NCMP) to the Parliament of Singapore
Only 36 seats contested
42 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  GohChokTong-WashingtonDC-20010614.jpg JoshuaBenjaminJeyaretnam-Singapore-20051107-cropped.jpg ChiamSeeTong-SDARally-20060502.jpg
Leader Goh Chok Tong J.B. Jeyaretnam Chiam See Tong
Leader since 1992 1971 1996
Leader's seat Marine Parade GRC Cheng San GRC (lost) Potong Pasir SMC
Last election 77 seats, 61% 1 seat, 1.2% None
Seats won 81 1 + 1 NCMP 1
Seat change Increase4 Steady0 Increase1
Popular vote 465,751 101,544 16,746
Percentage 65.0% 14.2%(total) / 37.6%(valid) 2.3%(total) / 27.2%(valid)
Swing Increase4.0% Decrease0.1%/Decrease3.5% Increase2.3%/Increase27.2%

Prime Minister before election

Goh Chok Tong

Elected Prime Minister

Goh Chok Tong

After nomination day on 23 December 1996, the People's Action Party returned to power for the second consecutive (and third overall) election as 47 (more than half of the total 83) seats were won uncontested. On polling day, voters voted for the election for the remaining 36 seats, with the oppositions winning the only two seats, down from the four they won in the last election. In this election, Group Representation Constituencies were increased from four members to between four and six members (six-member seats would remain present for two decades until its first absence in the 2020 election).


The election would seek opportunity for Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong to score a better mandate after PAP's considerably poorer showing in the 1991 election. Two seats in PAP-held Eunos and Toa Payoh GRCs were vacated after the death of Member of Parliament (MP), Dr Tay Eng Soon and inauguration of former Deputy Prime Minister Ong Teng Cheong as Singapore's fifth and first elected President in 1993 respectively; however, both GRCs did not held by-elections and were instead subsumed into neighbouring GRCs. A third incumbent, Lim Chee Oon of the Marine Parade GRC, retired from politics ahead of the by-election in 1992, and future Minister Teo Chee Hean (now as Senior Minister) succeeded Lim.

In 1993, a year following the events of the Marine Parade GRC by-election, the largest opposition party, Singapore Democratic Party, faced a serious internal strife where former leader and Potong Pasir then-MP Chiam See Tong sued his party's Central Executive Committee (which include current secretary-general Chee Soon Juan and chairman Ling How Doong) for defamation, which he won; Chiam resigned from SDP prior to nominations to lead his splinter party, Singapore People's Party. In 1994, Chee criticized then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over a lack of democracy, which led to the attention of Organising Secretary and Marine Parade GRC member-of-parliament Matthias Yao; Chee publicly request to challenge Yao with a condition of carving out his MacPherson ward from Marine Parade GRC into a SMC, which the latter accepted.


Date Event
21 November 1996 Publication of Electoral Boundaries report
16 December 1996 Dissolution of 8th Parliament
23 December 1996 Nomination Day
2 January Polling day
15 January Announcement of Non-constituency Member of Parliament
26 May Opening of 9th Parliament

Nominations and campaigningEdit

The 8th Parliament was dissolved on 16 December 1996, and nominations were held exactly a week after. At the close of the nomination, 122 candidates were nominated among which PAP returned to power for the second consecutive (and third) election after a majority of seats (47) were uncontested; among which were Tampines GRC, which the National Solidarity Party team was disqualified after one candidate was found to have his name struck off the electoral rolls for not voting in 1991. Chia Shi Teck became the first former Nominated MP to contest in the election as an independent candidate in an only four-cornered fight in Chua Chu Kang SMC. The Democratic Progressive Party, formerly named Singapore United Front, contested by a father-son duo led by Tan Soon Phuan and Tan Lead Shake (the latter now a member of NSP).

During campaigning, Tang Liang Hong, who was standing on the WP ticket with its secretary-general J. B. Jeyaretnam for Cheng San GRC, faced criticism where Tang was accused by PAP of being an anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist.

Electoral boundariesEdit

New six-member Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) were formed in the election, while six existing GRCs were absorbed into neighboring GRCs. Divisions of each constituencies which were either absorbed or carved out Single Member Constituencies (SMC), or creating smaller divisions, were reflected in the table:

Constituency Changes
Aljunied GRC Ward upsized to five members
Absorbed Eunos from Eunos GRC, Changkat South division from Tampines GRC (renamed to Changi-Simei), and portions of Serangoon Gardens division from Thomson GRC
Ang Mo Kio GRC Ward upsized to five members
Absorbed Nee Soon South SMC, portions of Chong Boon division from Cheng San GRC, and portions of Serangoon Gardens division from Thomson GRC
Bishan–Toa Payoh GRC New Constituency
Formed with Thomson GRC (and a small portion of Serangoon Gardens division) and Toa Payoh GRC, with Boon Teck and Kim Keat divisions absorbed to Toa Payoh Central division, and Kuo Chuan to Toa Payoh East division
Bukit Timah GRC New Constituency
Formed with Bukit Batok, Bukit Timah, Jurong, Ulu Pandan and Yuhua SMCs, and parts of Clementi division from Brickworks GRC
Cheng San GRC Ward upsized to five members
Punggol division was split into Punggol Central, Punggol East and Punggol South divisions
Carved out Chong Boon division to Ang Mo Kio GRC and Cheng San division
East Coast GRC New Constituency
Absorbed Joo Chiat division from Marine Parade GRC, Kaki Bukit division from Eunos GRC, Changi SMC and Bedok GRC
Changi division was absorbed into Changi-Simei and Changkat South divisions
Hong Kah GRC Ward upsized to five members
Absorbed a portion of Chua Chu Kang SMC (forming Yew Tee division) and Jurong SMC
Hong Kah West division was split to include Nanyang division (which also absorbed a portion of Jurong SMC)
Jalan Besar GRC Kallang division was dissolved into Kolam Ayer, Jalan Besar, Whampoa and Kampong Glam wards
Kreta Ayer–Tanglin GRC New Constituency
Formed with Kreta Ayer SMC, Tanglin SMC and portions of Kampong Glam GRC (except for Kampong Glam division, which was split into SMC)
Marine Parade GRC Ward upsized to six members
Absorbed Braddell Heights and Mountbatten SMC, and portions of Serangoon Gardens division from Thomson GRC (forming Serangoon division)
Carved out MacPherson division into SMC, and Joo Chiat division into East Coast GRC
Pasir Ris GRC New Constituency
Absorbed Pasir Ris and portions of Tampines North division (renamed to Pasir Ris South) from Eunos GRC, while Pasir Ris division was split into Pasir Ris Central, Pasir Ris East and Pasir Ris Loyang divisions
Sembawang GRC Ward upzised to six members
Bukit Panjang and Sembawang divisions were split to include Marsiling and Woodlands divisions, respectively
Tampines GRC Tampines West division was split to include Tampines Central division
Carved a portion of Changkat South division to Aljunied GRC, while the rest absorbed to Tampines Changkat division
Tanjong Pagar GRC Ward upsized to six members
Absorbed Brickworks and Queenstown division from Brickworks GRC, as well as Bukit Merah, Buona Vista and Leng Kee SMCs
Carved out Telok Blangah division to West Coast GRC
Brickworks division was absorbed into Pasir Panjang & Queenstown divisions
West Coast GRC New Constituency
Formed with Telok Blangah division from Tanjong Pagar GRC, and Clementi & West Coast divisions from Brickworks GRC

New and retiring candidatesEdit

24 PAP and 18 opposition candidates were among the candidates making their election debuts this year, while 17 incumbents were to retire ahead of the election. The list are as follows:

Retiring Candidates New Candidates
Ho Kah Leong (Jurong), 58 since 1966
Ch'ng Jit Koon (Tanjong Pagar GRC), 62 since 1968
Yeo Toon Chia (Ang Mo Kio GRC), 55 since 1970
Chin Harn Tong (Aljunied GRC), 59 since 1972
Lee Yiok Seng (Sembawang GRC), 57 since 1972
Ahmad Mattar (Brickworks GRC), 57 since 1972
S Dhanabalan (Toa Payoh GRC), 59 since 1976
Lau Teik Soon (Thomson GRC), 59 since 1976
Teo Chong Tee (Changi), 54 since 1976
Koh Lip Lin (Nee Soon South), 60 since 1979
S Chandra Das (Cheng San GRC), 57 since 1980
Yeo Ning Hong (Kampong Glam GRC), 53 since 1980
Wong Kwei Cheong (Kampong Glam GRC), 55 since 1980
Lau Ping Sum (Ang Mo Kio GRC), 55 since 1980
Zulkifi Mohammad (Jalan Besar GRC), 48 since 1984
Arthur Beng (Bedok GRC), 47 since 1984
Peter Sung (Buona Vista), 56 since 1988
Umar Abdul Hamid (Ang Mo Kio GRC), 36 since 1991
Ahmad Magad, 43
Ang Mong Seng, 47
Chan Soo Sen, 40
Chin Tet Yung, 45
David Lim Tik En, 41
Hawazi Daipi, 42
Heng Chee How, 35
Inderjit Singh, 36
Lily Neo, 43
Lim Hwee Hua, 37
Lim Swee Say, 42
Ong Ah Heng, 52
Peter Chen, 58
R Ravindran, 36
Seng Han Thong, 46
Tan Boon Wan, 48
Teo Ho Pin, 36
Toh See Kiat, 42
Yaacob Ibrahim, 41
Yeo Guat Kwang, 35
Zainul Abidin bin Mohammed Rasheed, 48


Party Votes % Seats +/–
People's Action Party 465,751 65.0 81 +4
Workers' Party 101,544 14.2 1 0
Singapore Democratic Party 76,129 10.6 0 –3
National Solidarity Party 48,322 6.7 0 0
Singapore People's Party 16,746 2.3 1 New
Democratic Progressive Party 5,043 0.4 0 New
Independents 3,210 0.4 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 17,255
Total 734,000 100 83 +2
Registered voters/turnout 765,332 95.9
Source: Singapore Elections


With the Housing Development Board (public housing) upgrading scheme dangled as a pricy stake for voters, PAP reversed its electoral decline for the first time in four elections with an increase of four percentage points, and it was the first election since 1963 to wrestle back two of four opposition wards (namely Bukit Gombak and Nee Soon Central) which was previously captured in the last election; due to Chiam's defection to SPP, SDP failed to win any seats and no longer have any seat representation since 1984; till this day SDP had never won any seats as of the 2015 election.

With the election of two opposition MPs (SPP's Chiam and WP's assistant secretary-general Low Thia Khiang), one Non-Constituency Member of Parliament seat was offered to the WP team of Cheng San Group Representation Constituency with the best-performing losing opposition team, which scored 45.2%; WP accepted the offer and elected secretary-general Jeyaretnam as the NCMP, making his return to the Parliament since 1986.

In June 1997, when Nominated MPs were re-appointed, the number was increased from six to nine. On 6 September 1999, the 9th Parliament was relocated to the New Parliament House located within the Civic District facing North Bridge Road, while the former Parliament House was closed until it reopened on 26 March 2004, in which it was renamed to The Arts House.

Tang Liang Hong's self-imposed exileEdit

After the election, WP candidate for Cheng San Group Representation Constituency, Tang Liang Hong was sued for defamation by several of the PAP's leaders, including then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then-Deputy Prime Ministers Lee Hsien Loong and Tony Tan, who accused him of making statements during the campaign which falsely questioned their integrity. A total of 13 judgements were entered against Tang for defamation.

Tang left Singapore shortly after the election and eventually found refuge in Australia.

External linksEdit

Official websites of political parties