SINGAPORE: An opposition candidate won by a landslide in a Singapore by-election on Saturday as voters handed a stinging rebuke to the ruling party in a poll seen as a referendum on their recent reforms.
The Workers’ Party retained the seat in the district of Hougang, winning 62.09 percent of votes cast despite having to fire the previous member of parliament over allegations of extramarital affairs. The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) received 37.91 percent, the elections department said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other PAP big guns had gone all out to campaign for the ruling party candidate, Desmond Choo, but in the end failed to win control of the ward, which has been in opposition hands for the past 21 years.
The vote took place a year after the ruling party, which has been in power more than half a century, suffered its worst performance in a general election.
The Hougang seat was left vacant in February after the Workers’ Party sacked its representative over allegations of extramarital affairs, giving the PAP an opportunity to redeem itself.
In last year’s elections, the PAP was jolted when it received an all-time low of 60 percent and the opposition grabbed an unprecedented six seats in the 87-member parliament. ]
The PAP holds the rest. Issues such as a liberal immigration policy for cabinet ministers and overcrowding in public transport hit the PAP vote.