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GE2020: PAP wins in Bukit Panjang SMC with 53.74% votes

Liang Eng Hwa - Shin Min - Jul 4 - BP SMC walkabout.jpg
PAP candidate for Bukit Panjang SMC Liang Eng Hwa on a walkabout on July 4.

THE People’s Action Party’s (PAP) candidate Liang Eng Hwa defeated the Singapore Democratic Party’s stalwart Paul Tambyah at the Bukit Panjang SMC with a share of 53.74 per cent or 18,070 votes in the ward.

SDP chairman Prof Tambyah, 55, ended up with 46.26 per cent or 15,556 of the votes.  The constituency, the largest SMC,  drew 34,212 votes of which 586 were spoilt votes.

The lower margin of victory for PAP relative to past elections at the single-seat ward is a big surprise particularly given that  Bukit Panjang SMC - the largest single-seat ward - is deemed a traditional PAP stronghold. It also reflects the increased electability of  SDP heavyweight Prof Tambyah, an infectious diseases expert whose profile has risen significantly on the back of the Covid-19 crisis.

PAP’s Mr Liang, a three-term MP, 56, had pledged to continue pushing for more improvements in the estate which he had described earlier as the place where he grew up and “the place where my life is”. The 56-year-old managing director of DBS Bank’s Institutional Banking Group, was moved from the PAP’s Holland Bukit-Timah GRC team to replace Teo Ho Pin, who has been MP for the single-seat ward since 2006.

Prof Tambyah, a National University of Singapore (NUS) professor who recently became the first Singaporean to head US-based non-profit organisation International Society of Infectious Diseases, had openly stated that he was not hopeful of a victory which would be a “miracle” given the limitations of reaching out to the voters and spreading the party’s message in a pandemic. Immediately following the release of the results, Prof Tambyah told reporters: “We deal with the cards we were dealt. We have done a strong campaign. Unfortunately, the miracle didn’t happen but we are grateful to voters who supported us”.

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In GE 2015, the two men contested against each other as part of their respective parties’ teams in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

In 2015, PAP veteran Dr Teo or “Mr Town Council” defended and won the Bukit Panjang seat with a vote share of 68.4 per cent in a straight fight with SDP’s Khung Wai Yeen who lost with a 31.6 per cent vote share. Dr Teo is one of the 20 PAP veterans who stepped down this election to make way for party renewal.

In 2011, Dr Teo snagged 66.27 per cent of votes, defeating SDP’s Alec Tok who lost with a 33.73 per cent of votes.

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