Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Punggol East SMC By Election: PAP to Win

January 16 is Nomination Day for the Punggol East SMC By Election and Polling Day will be January 26. The Punggol East SMC was vacated after the incumbent PAP MP Michael Palmer admitted to an extra marital affair and resigned from his party.

Since then, the PAP announced early on that Dr Koh Poh Koon, a colorectal surgeon would be standing for this By Election. On January 14, the WP announced sales trainer Lee Lilian as its choice.

Although there has been intimations, neither the SDP nor the RP has announced their candidate. SDP had called for a "unity candidate" but that seems unlikely now. While RP's secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam said that there was a "90% chance" of him entering the fray. Both parties have walked the ground in the recent few days since the snap polls were announced.

Why the PAP is likely to win

As a result of GE2011, it has become more interesting to speculate on the outcome of Singapore elections because there is a relatively higher chance that the PAP will not win.

For the sake of analysis let us look at some of the clues we have to the outcome of Polling Day. Here were the results of the last election in the SMC courtesy of www.singapore-elections.com

A more recent poll of 50 Punggol East SMC residents by the Straits Times had 19 supporting PAP, 10 for Opposition, and the remainder 21 ‘undecided’. Another survey by The Online Citizen, does not say who will win but states the issues that most concern the residents there.

As earlier mentioned, only two parties have announced their candidates for this By Election. Assuming that this remain until Nomination Day, Dr Koh from the PAP is mostly the winner. This is because the previous numbers have the PAP candidate at 54.5% of the valid votes and WP and SDA at 45.5%.

It is unlikely that the fact that the SMC was vacated because of Michael Palmer's extra marital affair would significantly damage the PAP's vote. Judging by the the recent-most By Election in Hougang SMC, the WP lost about 1% of valid votes in a straight fight with the repeat PAP candidate. By extrapolation, Dr Koh might just get 52-53% of valid votes. The Punggol East SMC is for PAP to lose.

Alternative scenarios that will result in PAP not winning are very rare. This is because the media coverage of Michael Palmer's affair has been favourable (to the party) and the pre-election campaign of Dr Koh has been well-executed. He has more days to acquaint himself to the residents and was seen talking to the HDB about the Rivervale Plaza delays. 

The only scenario I can think of that the PAP does not win, is that I might have understated the impact of a straight fight between the PAP and the WP.

However, there is strong likelihood that there will be more than two candidates announced on Nomination Day - that is SDP and RP do run - and it will only reinforce the earlier margin that the PAP had secured. 

It will be a very interesting By Election because although the PAP is most likely to retain the SMC, we will see permutations in the contest that have implications on the results.

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