Ruling party crushes opponents in Singapore election
PAP keeps all but 2 parliamentary seats
In this story:
January 2, 1997
Web posted at: 7:30 p.m. EST (2430 GMT)
SINGAPORE (CNN) - Singapore voters Thursday returned to power
the same party that has ruled the city-state since it was
founded in 1959.
Since the opposition only contested 36 of 83 parliamentary
seats, the People's Action Party (PAP) majority was never in
doubt. In fact, at best, Singapore's opposition parties have
never won more than four seats.
But Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was trying to rebuild
declining public support, and campaigned as though each seat
were a referendum on his government's popularity. During the
heated campaign, tactics proved more controversial than
Goh warned that the opposition was a threat to Singapore's
prosperity, and threatened to withhold a multi-billion-dollar
housing renovation program from districts that voted for the
"You cannot upgrade all the estates at the same time, can
you?" he asked. "There are finite resources. The construction
industry is limited, so how do you then allocate people in
the queue? Surely, in war, when you have to ration food, you
give it to soldiers first."
Goh's comments brought criticism not only from the
opposition, but from the U.S. government. An angry Goh
accused the United States of interfering, and returned to
that theme at a post-election news conference, when he called
the victory a "watershed election."
Goh said voters had "rejected Western-style liberal
democracy and freedoms (and) were putting individual rights
over that of society."
Also during the campaign, Goh accused Tang Liang Hong, a
Workers Party candidate in the Cheng San district where five
seats were at stake, of being a "Chinese chauvinist."
It was a loaded accusation in a society that is 77 percent
ethnic Chinese but prides itself on racial harmony with Malay
and Tamil minorities. Tang denied the charges and said he
would sue Goh for slander.
Goh promised a new subway station, libraries and better
schools if his party's margin of victory in the district was
The only opposition politicians elected were Chiam See Tong
of the Singapore Progressive Party and Low Thia Khiang of the
The election also reversed a decline in PAP's share of
the vote, which had gone from 75 percent in 1980 to 61
percent in 1991. This time, it rose to 65 percent.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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