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Singaporean general election, 1997

The 1997 Singaporean parliamentary election was an election in Singapore which was held 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.

Singaporean general election, 1997
← 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
Turnout 95.9%
  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 with a total of 47 out of the total 83 seats and could form a government on nomination day. On polling day, voters voted for the election for their members of parliament with all but two seats going to the PAP. In this election, Group Representation Constituencies were increased from four members to five and six members. Housing issues were one of the issues raised during the election.



This was another 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 MP, Dr Tay Eng Soon and inauguration of former Deputy PM Ong Teng Cheong as Singapore's fifth and first elected President in 1993 respectively. The former GRC, which twice saw narrow wins against WP, was dispersed into neighbouring constituencies.

Meanwhile, the main opposition, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was facing serious internal strife.

SDP Member of Parliament and former leader Chiam See Tong sued his party's central executive committee, including its new leader Dr Chee Soon Juan and one of its MPs, chairman Ling How Doong, for defamation, and won. Prior to nomination day, Chiam resigned from SDP and crossed over to its splinter party, Singapore People's Party. Two opposition candidates who came under heaviest fire from PAP were Dr Chee and Tang Liang Hong, who was standing on the WP ticket with its secretary-general J. B. Jeyaretnam. Tang was accused by PAP of being an anti-Christian Chinese chavunist. Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) went up from four to between four and six seats each. A National Solidarity Party team was disqualified from Tampines GRC after one candidate was found to have his name struck off the electoral rolls for not voting in 1991. For the first time, a Nominated MP – listed company director Chia Shi Teck – ran in an election.

Electoral boundariesEdit

Constituency Changes
Aljunied GRC Ward upsized to five members
Absorbed Paya Lebar SMC, 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 into Toa Payoh East division
Bukit Timah GRC New Constituency
Formed with Bukit Batok SMC, Bukit Timah SMC, Jurong SMC, Ulu Pandan SMC and Yuhua SMC, as well as parts of Brickworks GRC (Clementi)
Cheng San GRC Ward upsized to five members
Punggol division was split into Punggol Central, Punggol East and Punggol South divisons
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)
Hong Kah West division was split to include Nanyang division (which also absorbed a portion of Jurong division)
Jalan Besar GRC Kallang division was dissolved into into Kolam Ayer, Jalan Besar, Whampoa and Kampong Glam wards
Kreta Ayer-Tanglin GRC New Constituency
Formed with Cairnhill SMC, 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
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 into 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.
Brickworks division was absorbed into Pasir Panjang & Queenstown divisions
West Coast GRC New Constituency
Formed with Telok Blangah division of Tanjong Pagar GRC, and Clementi & West Coast divisions from Brickworks GRC

New candidatesEdit

Retiring candidatesEdit

Election resultsEdit

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 and since 1963, won back an opposition ward, recapturing the two SDP seats out of the four it had lost the last round. The PAP's share of the vote rose by 4 percentage points nationally. With Chiam See Tong's defection, SDP had no representation in Parliament since 1984. Low Thia Khiang, now WP assistant secretary-general, and Jeyaretnam as a Non-Constituency MP, returned to the legislature, the latter's last presence was previously in 1986.

e • d Summary of the 2 January 1997 Parliament of Singapore election results
Parties and alliances Leader Contested
Seats won Popular vote % +/-
  People's Action Party Goh Chok Tong 83 81 465,751 65.0  
  Workers' Party Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam 14 1 101,544 14.2
  Singapore Democratic Party Chee Soon Juan 13 0 76,129 10.6
  National Solidarity Party Steve Chia 7 0 48,322 6.7
  Singapore People's Party Chiam See Tong 3 1 16,746 2.3
  Democratic Progressive Party Tan Soo Phuan 2 0 5,043 0.7
Independent N.A. 1 0 3,210 0.4
Total 83 734,000 100.0 -
Spoilt votes 17,255 -
Did not vote 31,332 -
Total voting electorate 765,332 -
includes uncontested victories

Election aftermathEdit

In June 1997, when Nominated MPs were re-appointed, the number was increased from six to nine.

Tang Liang Hong's self-imposed exileEdit

After the election, Worker's Party candidate for Cheng San Group Representation Constituency, Tang Liang Hong was sued for defamation by several of the PAP's leaders, including Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and 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