2013 Punggol East by-election

  (Redirected from Singaporean by-election, 2013)

A by-election for the Punggol East Single Member Constituency in Singapore was held on 26 January 2013 because of the resignation of former parliamentary speaker Michael Palmer from the People's Action Party on 12 December 2012.[1]

Punggol East by-election, 2013

← 2012 26 January 2013 2016 →
  First party Second party
Candidate Lee Li Lian Koh Poh Koon
Party WP PAP
Popular vote 16,045 12,875
Percentage 54.5% 43.7%

  Third party Fourth party
Candidate Kenneth Jeyaretnam Desmond Lim
Party Reform SDA
Popular vote 353 168
Percentage 1.2% 0.6 %

MP before election

Michael Palmer

Elected MP

Lee Li Lian

This was the 17th by-election since the first election, and the second by-election in as many years. The Nomination Day was held on 16 January 2013, while Polling Day was on 26 January 2013. This was also returning officer, Yam Ah Mee's last stint, following his resignation from the People's Association.

On 26 January 2013, Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party was elected as the Member of Parliament for Punggol East SMC, marking the second by-election victory for an opposition party after 1981.[2]

Resignation of Palmer as the Speaker and MPEdit

The by-election was called by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the seat of Punggol East was left vacant when then the incumbent, then Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer, resigned from his seat due to him having an extramarital affair.

A local tabloid, The New Paper, reported that they received a tip-off on 8 December 2012, in the form of screengrabs of phone messages that the Speaker of Parliament, Michael Palmer was having an extramarital affair. The messages suggested that the two had close relationship and met regularly on Mondays.[3] The New Paper also stated that they have been in this relationship for a year. On the same Saturday, Palmer met DPM Teo Chee Hean to tender his resignation as speaker and MP. The next day, PM Lee Hsien Loong met Palmer to confirm his resignation.

On 12 December 2012, the PAP called a press conference where Palmer announced that he resigned to "take full responsibility for a grave mistake" for having an improper relationship with a PA staff, Laura Ong. Although Ong did not work under Palmer, Punggol East used to be under the Pasir Ris- Punggol division and Punggol East still works together on constituencies affairs. DPM Teo Chee Hean, at the press conference announced that Mr Teo Ser Luck will be the caretaker MP for Punggol East.

Confirmation of by-electionEdit

On 9 January 2013, President Tony Tan Keng Yam issued a writ of election for the electoral division of Punggol East. Nomination Day was on 16 January 2013 while the nomination centre was at North Vista Secondary School. Since the election was contested, the Returning Officer, Yam Ah Mee, directed that the election be adjourned for a poll to be taken on 26 January 2013.[4]


On 10 January 2013, PAP unveiled their candidate to stand in the by-election, Dr Koh Poh Koon, a 40-year-old colorectal surgeon from Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.[5]

On 14 January 2013, the Workers' Party (WP) unveiled 34-year-old financial institution trainer Lee Li Lian as its candidate for the Punggol East by-election. She obtained 41% of the valid votes in the 2011 General Election in the same ward.[6]

In a press statement to the media on 15 January 2013, the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) said they would field 44-year-old Desmond Lim Bak Chuan to run in the by-election. He obtained 4.5% of votes in the 2011 General Election in the same ward.[7]

At a news conference outside Rivervale Plaza late on the evening on 15 January 2013, the Reform Party (RP) announced 53-year-old Kenneth Jeyaretnam as its candidate for the Punggol East by-election.[8]

The Singapore Democratic Party expressed interest in contesting the election,[9] even proposing a joint campaign with the WP.[10]

However, on 15 January 2013, the SDP announced its decision not to contest the by-election.[11]

There were potential independent candidates who declared their intentions to run. They included former People's Liberal Democratic Party founder Ooi Boon Ewe, retired acupuncturist Zeng Guoyuan[12] and former Singapore People's Party member Benjamin Pwee, who later pulled out of the race,[13] citing the lack of time to run under a party banner as a reason for pulling out.

By-Election 2013: Punggol East
Party Candidate Votes % ±
WP Lee Li Lian 16,045 54.50 +13.49
PAP Koh Poh Koon 12,875 43.73 -10.81
Reform Kenneth Jeyaretnam (Loses deposit) 353 1.20 N/A
SDA Desmond Lim Bak Chuan (Loses deposit) 168 0.57 -3.88
Margin of victory 3,170 10.77 -2.76
Rejected ballots 418 1.40 -0.3
Turnout 29,859 94.31 -0.99
Registered electors 31,659 -4.9%
WP gain from PAP Swing +12.15


  1. ^ "Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer resigns over 'grave mistake'". Channel NewsAsia. 12 December 2012.
  2. ^ "WP's Lee wins Punggol East by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 26 January 2013.
  3. ^ "SMSes expose Michael Palmer's affair". The New Paper.
  4. ^ "Punggol East by-election announced, Polling Day is Jan 26". The Straits Times. 9 January 2013.
  5. ^ "PAP fields Koh Poh Koon as its candidate for by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 10 January 2013.
  6. ^ "WP fields Lee Li Lian as its candidate for by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 14 January 2013.
  7. ^ "SDA fields Desmond Lim as its candidate for by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 14 January 2013.
  8. ^ "RP picks Kenneth Jeyaretnam as candidate for by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 15 January 2013.
  9. ^ "SDP still keen to contest by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 14 January 2013.
  10. ^ "SDP proposes joint campaign with WP in Punggol East by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 11 January 2013.
  11. ^ "SDP not contesting Punggol East by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 15 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Ooi Boon Ewe, Zeng Guoyuan issued Political Donation Certificates". Channel NewsAsia. 14 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Benjamin Pwee pulls out". Channel NewsAsia. 15 January 2013.