2016 Bukit Batok by-election

  (Redirected from Bukit Batok by-election, 2016)

A by-election for the Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency in Singapore was concluded on Polling Day of 7 May 2016, with Murali Pillai as the winning candidate. This followed the sudden resignation of incumbent Member of Parliament David Ong Kim Huat (of the People's Action Party) on 12 March 2016.

Bukit Batok by-election, 2016

← 2013 7 May 2016

1 seat to the Parliament of Singapore
  First party Second party
  Murali Pillai Chee Soon Juan
Candidate Murali Pillai Chee Soon Juan
Party PAP SDP
Popular vote 14,428 9,142
Percentage 61.2% 38.8%

MP before election

David Ong
PAP

Elected MP

Murali Pillai
PAP

On 20 April, President Tony Tan Keng Yam issued the writs of election.[1] On 27 April, two candidates were nominated, Murali Pillai of the People's Action Party, and Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party. The by-election was the 13th of its kind since Singapore's independence.

Ong's resignation as MPEdit

David Ong's sudden resignation (due to "personal reasons", and having admitted committing a "personal indiscretion") on 12 March 2016 from politics as an incumbent Member of Parliament from the People's Action Party (PAP) set up a by-election for the Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency. Ong's offer to resign was accepted by PAP's secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong (who was also the Prime Minister of Singapore).[2] PAP Whip, Chan Chun Sing, said that the party took "very decisive action" and acted "in a very short time" once it learned of Ong's issues, due to "standards that the party also wants to uphold".[3] Ong sent a personal letter of apology to Bukit Batok residents in early April 2016.[4]

The explanation offered by the Singapore media was that Ong was having an extra-marital affair with a 41-year-old woman, Wendy Lim, who was also a member and grassroots volunteer of the People's Action Party. Ong's alleged affair went on over nearly six months before it went public after the husband of Wendy Lim lodged a complaint about it.[5][6] Wendy Lim left the People's Action Party as of 15 March 2016 while also going on leave with her employer Pacific Integrated Logistics.[7] Ong is the third MP in five years to resign from his parliamentary seat and leave his political party because of an alleged extra-marital affair, after the likes of Michael Palmer of the PAP and Yaw Shin Leong of the opposition Workers Party.[8]

The role handling Bukit Batok SMC is tentatively taken of by incumbent Member of Parliament of Jurong Group Representation Constituency Desmond Lee pending the result of a by-election electing a new MP.[2] Ang Wei Neng takes over as Jurong-Clementi Town Council chairman.[9][10]

Calling of by-electionEdit

On 20 April 2016, President Tony Tan Keng Yam issued the writs of election: Nomination Day would be on 27 April 2016, followed by 9 days for campaigning before the mandatory cooling-off day on 6 May 2016, and lastly Polling Day would be on 7 May 2016. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that after the 2016 Budget was passed (by the Singapore Parliament on 14 April, with President Tan announcing his assent on 15 April),[11] Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (performing as Acting Prime Minister while Lee was away) advised President Tony Tan to issue the writ of election.[12]

CandidatesEdit

Two candidates for election were nominated on 27 April 2016: Murali Pillai of the People's Action Party (PAP) and Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).[13] SDP had decided on 20 March that Chee, their party secretary-general, would run as their candidate;[14][15] while PAP announced on 21 March that their candidate would be Pillai, a former PAP branch secretary of Bukit Batok who contested in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency in the 2015 general election.[16]

Three other men had applied for political donation certificates but were not nominated as candidates.[17]

Candidates Age Background
Kwan Yue Keng 68 From the People's Power Party (PPP), who was a candidate for Bukit Batok SMC (representing SDP) in the 1988 and 1991 general elections, but lost twice to the PAP's candidate Ong Chit Chung. Kwan was prepared to contest to prevent a PAP walkover if only SDP's Chee was disqualified; this was agreed between the SDP and the PPP. Since Chee was successfully nominated, the PPP withdrew its candidate.[17]
Abdul Rahim Osman 59 who was a Workers' Party candidate contesting for the Cheng San Group Representation Constituency in 1997. Osman collected the political donation certificate but ultimately decided not to contest and backed PAP's Pillai.[17]
Shirwin Eu 32 an Uber driver, who failed to meet the nomination requirements of a proposer, a seconder, and four assentors from Bukit Batok SMC.[17] Eu had said he was drawn by "fame and wealth" and admitted he did not know what residents in Bukit Batok wanted.[18] Eu had suffered a similar failure during his first bid to be nominated in the 2015 general election, where he was hoping to become a candidate for Bukit Panjang SMC.[19]

Five opposition parties, including the PPP, had earlier ruled out contesting in the by-election. The rest were the Democratic Progressive Party, the Singapore Democratic Alliance,[14] the Singaporeans First party, and the largest opposition party in Singapore, the Workers' Party.[20] Samir Salim Neji, an independent candidate who contested in Bukit Batok during the 2015 general election, also announced he would not contest.[21]

CampaigningEdit

Chee campaigned with a slogan of "Now Is The Time", and his campaign used technology and social media widely. By April 21, Chee had put together a team of four to advise the SDP (in the first 100 days) on how to take over and run the town council should they win. Chee also pledged that the SDP wanted "to surpass current levels of performance of PAP-run town councils".[22] By April 29, the SDP had established a 13-strong transition team to ensure the SDP town council "works without a hitch, all from Day One". Chee also elaborated that he would personally manage the running of the town council instead of using managing agents, with the SDP aiming "to set new standards for transparency and accountability in town council governance."[23]

It was reported on April 23 that the SDP had prepared four social schemes for Bukit Batok residents if Chee won. One, Hearts for Bukit Batok, where needy families would be 'adopted' and helped, including with a trust fund. Additionally, Chee said he would use part of his salary as MP to help 10 families. Two, Pathfinder, targeting youth with books, fairs, sports and subsidized tuition for the poor. Three, Dollars And Sense, a financial clinic. Four, Legal Lifeline, a clinic for legal advice.[24]

On April 24, Pillai revealed a plan by the PAP Jurong-Clementi Town Council to upgrade infrastructure around Blocks 140 to 149 of the SMC, which would cost $1.9 million. PAP could only carry out that specific plan if they won, with Pillai saying, "If we don't have the mandate, then we won't have the ability to carry on because we will not form the town council."[25] In response, Chee criticized pending upgrading plans as a "knee-jerk reaction every time an election comes", and also asked for an update on the $24 million upgrading plan for Bukit Batok announced by David Ong during the 2015 general election.[26] Pillai replied that for the 2015 $23.6 million masterplan, some projects were already "fully executed", while others "are still on-going" or are still "in the pipeline". Pillai also said the $1.9 million Neighbourhood Renewal Project is "part of" the $23.6 million masterplan.[27] After Pillai said the $1.9 million funds would be disbursed regardless of the party of the by-election winner, Chee said that he would continue with Ong's masterplan, but also propose new additions including zebra crossings and covered walkways.[28]

On April 26, Pillai unveiled his manifesto focusing on the three domains of jobs, social mobility and the elderly. For the first domain, Pillai proposed a program to help the unemployed find jobs faster. For the second domain, volunteers would "inspire children from low-income families to aim high to succeed in life". For the third domain, a 'health cooperative' would be implemented to help "sandwiched families" by increasing medical literacy and subsidizing consumables for the elderly. Additionally, Pillai also proposed an "emergency button scheme" for "elderly living alone" to alert "neighbours or community volunteers" of a need for help.[29][30] In the following days, Pillai revealed more plans: for the elderly, setting up a new "eldercare centre will help provide more therapy services and daycare services".[31] He also elaborated on his initial plans: for social mobility, Pillai hoped that his volunteer youth mentorship program would eventually be accessible to all residents and be introduced in schools;[32] while for the unemployed, Pillai is planning on "leveraging on community contacts within the pool of community volunteers and Bukit Batok residents, and also [his] own business contacts" to help residents secure jobs.[33]

On April 27, Chee pledged that if elected, he would be a "full-time MP"; making the comparison: "... every morning when Mr Murali wakes up, his first destination will be his office. When I wake up every morning, my first destination is Bukit Batok." In response, Pillai said, "I would always put Bukit Batok residents' needs above mine". He also replied that PAP MPs have been able to juggle being an MP with an additional "day job"; while residents could not be served by just one person and a "team approach" is needed.[34] At the SDP's rally on April 29, several SDP speakers criticized David Ong for resigning and thus failing to serve Bukit Batok's residents. This was followed by Chee declaring that people should "leave Mr Ong alone" and not "kick a man when he's down".[35] The next day, Chee declared he would "put a stop" to any future attack on Ong by his party members for the by-election.[36]

On May 3, Chee said while he thought his opponent was Pillai, "It is turning out to be everybody else except him", while Pillai was "not saying anything". This came after multiple serving ministers from the PAP had commented on or responded to Chee during the by-election.[37] Several PAP politicians also questioned Chee's ability to perform the role of an MP when they said he had not had a "full-time job" for several years. In response, Chee said, "I've been working every single day to not just keep the SDP together but build it up, and to think and propose and write about ideas for Singapore".[38] Some of the other PAP members had praised Pillai's character and history in Bukit Batok while questioning Chee's character and his past, resulting in Chee calling for the PAP cease its "personal attacks" and "stop the gutter politics", and instead focus on policies and issues.[39][40][41] In contrast, Pillai did not comment on Chee's character as of May 4. His campaign strategy emphasized on house visits where Pillai could discuss his proposals with residents in depth.[42] Finally, Pillai said that if he were elected as a Member of Parliament, he would raise the issues of tightening the criteria for receiving employment passes and fighting for higher Eldershield insurance payouts for the disabled.[43]

On May 4, Chee said that his party's "comparative advantage" would be evident in Parliament, where he could make a "qualitative difference", challenging ministers to "justify their positions" on issues. Chee criticized how Singaporean ministers "have not been challenged intellectually", and thus were able to make "motherhood statements and things that do not really make a lot of sense". Amongst the national issues Chee would champion discussing include the Central Provident Fund, financial assistance for the elderly, fixing and extending the progressional wage system, and retrenchment insurance.[44][45] On the retrenchment insurance scheme, Chee proposed that employed workers pay a fee for inclusion into the scheme, in exchange for a staggered form of monetary support for the 18 months after retrenchment.[46] Additionally, Chee said that Singapore needed to "pay a lot more attention" to immigrants, fearing those "not properly vetted".[47]

Bukit Batok SMCEdit

As at April 21, there are 25,727 registered voters. They account for 56% of the total resident population of Bukit Batok SMC. Approximately 96% of the resident population live in public housing.[48]

 

Election ralliesEdit

The Singapore Police Force announced on Nomination Day 27 April 2016, a list of sites available for electoral meetings. Such meetings could be held from 28 April to 5 May between 7am to 10pm. The police also announced that Speakers' Corner would not serve as an "unrestricted area" during the campaigning period. All rallies below are held between 7pm to 10pm.

Party 29 Apr 1 May 3 May 5 May
  PAP
Bukit Gombak Stadium
NA NA
Bukit Gombak Stadium
  SDP
Field along Bukit Batok Industrial Park A
Bukit Gombak Stadium
Field along Bukit Batok Industrial Park A
Field along Bukit Batok Industrial Park A

Polling StationsEdit

On 7 May 2016, which is the Polling Day for Bukit Batok By-Election 2016,25,727 registered voters will cast their votes at the 9 polling stations in Bukit Batok SMC (six at HDB void decks, one at a pavilion and two at secondary school canteens) from 8am to 8pm.At 8pm all ballot boxes are sealed and send to the counting centres.

List of Polling Stations for the Bukit Batok By-Election 2016:

  • HDB Block 191 Void Deck, Bukit Batok West Avenue 6
  • Bukit View Secondary School Canteen, Bukit Batok Street 21
  • HDB Block 221 Void Deck, Bukit Batok East Avenue 3
  • HDB Block 624 Void Deck, Bukit Batok Central
  • HDB Block 131 Void Deck, Bukit Batok West Avenue 6
  • HDB Pavilion Block 105A, Bukit Batok Central
  • HDB Block 136 Void Deck, Bukit Batok West Avenue 6
  • Bukit Batok Secondary School Canteen, Bukit Batok West Avenue 8
  • HDB Block 176 Void Deck, Bukit Batok West Avenue 8

Overseas voters will also cast their votes 10 overseas polling stations.

ResultsEdit

Sample countEdit

Similar to the 2015 general election, sample counts were released by the Elections Department prior to the announcement of the official results to prevent unnecessary speculation and reliance on unofficial sources of information while counting is still under way.[49] The sample count results were released at 9:24pm, with Murali Pillai garnering 61% of the vote and Chee Soon Juan 39%.[50]

By-election 2016: Bukit Batok
Party Candidate Votes % ±
PAP Murali Pillai 14,428 61.21 -11.81
SDP Chee Soon Juan 9,142 38.79 +12.41
Majority 5,286 22.42 -24.22
Rejected ballots 622 2.57 +0.43
Turnout 24,192 94.03 -0.21
Registered electors 25,727
PAP hold Swing -12.11

ReferencesEdit

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