In my earlier post, I predicted that where voters stand on five issues will predict the results. How did I fare?
1. Everyone now agrees, mistakes have been made. Does the PAP need a co-driver to point them out in future?- Right.
This was my number one issue, and it turned out to be the number one issue for voters in WP wards too. Absolutely crucial this time around.
2. The quality of the candidates is again in the forefront- Half-right.
I’m not sure if this is strictly an issue of ‘quality’, but apart from focus on candidates (in this case, Nicole Seah on one end, and Tin Pei Ling on the other) there is simply no other way to explain how the Nicole Seah NSP team in Marine Parade ended up as the third-best performing opposition GRC challenge.
On the other hand, I thought credentials of candidates like Tan Jee Say would be highly relevant- not so.
3. Personal attacks have been largely contained; instead we now focus on the PAP’s ministers- Right.
The labour minister suffered a mild scare in CCK; the housing minister lost significant ground in Tampines. The MCYS minister (YOG) lost some ground, but not so much- after all, YOG affects our lives less than jobs and housing. So I was right, the focus on the PAP’s ministers would not paint them in a good light.
4. Upgrading and individual ward needs seem to be less important- Right.
Absolutely. Hougang went by an even bigger margin to a total newcomer. No question about it, upgrading was a non-issue this time around.
5. Ask what the MP can do for you- Half-right.
The WP candidate lost by only 300+ votes in Joo Chiat. Mountbatten was also close despite NSP being not really a strong brand name to bank on. On the other end, however, Joo Chiat was won by a ‘transplanted MP’ from another constituency. Mountbattern was also lost to an outsider. So this issue got the opposition close, but not close enough. In some cases, agonisingly so (Potong Pasir and Joo Chiat, in particular).
I’ve seen this happen in the US before, and I believe it’s happening now. Having felt out the population on all the issues, and trying out a diverse set of ways of attacking, all parties are now honing towards the few issues that do stick.
1. Everyone now agrees, mistakes have been made. Does the PAP need a co-driver to point them out in future?
The PAP now admits that it’s made mistakes- implying it doesn’t need the opposition to point out flaws to them. The opposition however says that it was exactly because they pointed out these flaws, that the PAP is now able to admit them. Who makes a stronger case may ultimately decide the election.
2. The quality of the candidates is again in the forefront
At the start, there was much attacking going on for the quality of candidates like TPL and Dr Janil P. This election was never really about them, however, and the focus has rightfully shifted. Now, the question is, will we be able to replace our current ministers if they lose? Are there talented individuals who can replace George Yeo, Wong Kan Seng, Vivian Balakrisnan? The bigger implication however is that these have to come from the PAP ranks only. Otherwise, we can rightly question whether Tan Jee Say and Chen Show Mao, in particular, should be given a chance to serve the nation more strongly. Nonetheless, this is normal in politics- the winners install their guys in power. Does the PAP have enough capable people to step up?
3. Personal attacks have been largely contained; instead we now focus on the PAP’s ministers
SM Goh tried lobbing one at Tan Jee Say; Low Thia Kiang has also had his competency questioned. Vincent Wijeysingha has had his sexuality cast in doubt, and Chen Show Mao has had his motives attacked. But these have largely died down, probably because questions have arose about PAP candidates too (Janil and TPL being the most obvious), but also because the PAP realises that a referendum on George Yeo, Wong Kan Seng, and so on, is more likely to tilt things in their favour than a referendum on whether Tan, Low, Wijeysingha and Chen are qualified (perhaps when they DO seem qualified, when you compare them to the PAP’s new candidates).
Interestingly, the opposition is happy to make this election a referendum on the mistakes of the same exact individuals, instead of drawing attention on their (lack of) governing credentials.
4. Upgrading and individual ward needs seem to be less important
There are only so many covered walkways and green gardens we need. These seem to be less important now than in previous elections. Especially after SM Lee said that voters of the opposition would have to ‘repent’, the PAP seems to be backing off from being seen as the big bad bully.
5. Ask what the MP can do for you
The PAP in particular tried to bring this to the forefront in the form of ‘upgrading’. While upgrading is not a key issue this election, nonetheless the role of the MP has reappeared in another form, in the ‘home boy’ advantage. Potong Pasir, Joo Chiat, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Choa Chu Kang and Mountbatten are just some examples where ‘born-and-bred’ seems to be a big issue this time around. It seems while voters don’t care about upgrading, they DO care about whether their MP will meet them and go to battle for them when they need help over small issues like welfare, social issues, and so on.
Which of the five matter to you?
These seem to be the five main topics that the election has centered on, in the past few days. I believe the results will center around how they play out. Everyone has their own way of voting, and may choose any combination of the five issues to base their decision on. It is going to be an interesting few days ahead.