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GE2020: PAP defeats WP in East Coast with 53.41% of votes

East Coast PAP ST PHOTO.jpg
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat (third from right) with fellow East Coast GRC candidates (from left) Tan Kiat How, Jessica Tan, Maliki Osman and Cheryl Chan, waving PAP party flags near the Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre on July 8.

East Coast WP.jpg
(from left): WP candidates for East Coast GRC Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, Nicole Seah, Kenneth Foo, Terence Tan and Dylan Ng during a walkabout in Bedok North, on July 1.

IN a continuation of the fierce election from 2011, the East Coast GRC has witnessed a very keen fight between the ruling party People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP).

The PAP team anchored by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat defeated the opposition party in a close shave, with 53.41 per cent of the votes. The winning margin was 7.32 percentage points less than its performance in 2015.

A total of 114,237 valid votes were cast on Friday, of which 61,009 went to PAP; 1,393 votes were rejected.

DPM Heng said: "Thank you for braving the long queue and the hot sun to cast your vote. My team and I thank you for your trust and support for us. With your mandate, we are determined to serve you better and to emerge stronger from this global pandemic crisis. We'll reach out to better understand your concerns and aspirations, and work together with you to realise our East Coast plan, and to build a more vibrant, caring and green community.

He also thanked the Workers' Party team for "giving us a strong contest".

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Eugene Tan, associate professor at Singapore Management University, said in an interview broadcast on CNA that he does not see this election as a referendum on Mr Heng’s leadership. He added that it would be quite unfair to expect any politician to be able to work ground in just nine days to change the voters' perceptions.

Expectations had been that the GRC, bordering the WP-held Aljunied GRC and the most narrowly won GRC for the PAP in 2015, would see a tight race. Perhaps sensing vulnerability, the PAP put forward a slate helmed by heavyweight DPM Heng - a move that appeared to have been decided at the last minute.

DPM Heng was elected into Parliament in 2011 by the electorate at Tampines GRC, for whom he had been the Member of Parliament (MP) for two terms till he made the surprise move to leave for East Coast GRC.

Besides the 58-year-old, the PAP team has Maliki Osman, 54; Jessica Tan Soon Neo, 54; Cheryl Chan, 44; and fresh face Tan Kiat How, 43.

Dr Maliki was the Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs before Parliament was dissolved, while Ms Tan and Ms Chan were three-term and one-term backbenchers, respectively. Mr Tan quit his job as the chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority to run for this election.

The WP slate is made up of Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54; Foo Seck Guan, 38; Terence Tan, 44; Dylan Ng, 40; and Nicole Seah, 33. Both Mr Ng and Mr Tan had contested in Marine Parade for WP in 2015.

Nicole Seah in her thank-you speech said: "We went into this knowing it's going to be a tough fight, and we gave it our best, and we gave it our all, for all of you. The votes and the encouragement we received show us that a very large part of East Coast GRC voters do want to see more fairness in our political system. We love East Coast GRC, and we'll see you again."

The East Coast GRC boundaries were redrawn with the Fengshan ward returned to the fold. Fengshan was carved out in the 2015 General Election. 

East Coast GRC has been one of WP's relatively strong areas. It had contested there in 2006, 2011 and 2015.

In 2015, the PAP held the ward with 60.7 per cent of the vote – the PAP's worst performance for a GRC in that election. In Fengshan, PAP backbencher Cheryl Chan fended off a challenge from WP candidate Dennis Tan with just 57.5 per cent of the vote.

In 2011, the PAP got 54.8 per cent of the vote for East Coast – also its lowest vote share among all the GRCs it won. 

In 2006, the ruling party won 63.9 per cent of the vote.

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