RONALD LEE: No more electoral boundary changes, no more pre-election goodies, no more opposition bloc bickering. It’s a clear cut winner takes all situation in Bukit Batok between SDP chief Chee Soon Juan and “Son of Bukit Batok” and Aljunied “Suicide Squad” member K Murali Pillai.
The task at hand now for Dr Chee – to swing some 25 percent of the votes, or about 6370 voters, over to the red corner. This, while retaining its supporters in Bukit Batok from GE2015. Can he do this against a relatively unknown PAP figure?
Let’s take a look:
(1) The Family Man vs the Womanising Man
Furthermore, it’s the second time a PAP MP has been caught with his balls in the sandpit (kinda like a bad golfer). Naturally, there will be the suspicion amongst voters that the PAP is making empty promises just to push some unknown candidate who could turn out to be just as much as a rogue as the passionate botak.
Verdict: Chief Chee
But that’s countered by…
The bald eagle is one of the rare PAP politicians who can claim to be in good standing with supporters from both sides of the fence. You can be pretty sure he’s going to campaign for Murali. And Ong or no Ong, when Tharman says “I can assure you it will be someone committed to the interest of Bukit Batok residents, and who will be able to also speak for them and Singaporeans in Parliament,” he’s already secured enough votes for at least a tie.
(3) Bukit Batok Voters
From the analysis of the GE2015 results, the SDP has a strong support base among young voters who were more educated (tertiary level and above). The demographics of Bukit Batok voters: more older voters who have received less education. That’s a direct contrast to the SDP fan base.
(4) Ground Work
The last time the “Son of Bukit Batok” K Murali did any ground work in Bukit Batok was prior to 2012, when he was actively involved in the PAP grassroots there. The constituency was where he cut his teeth in the world of politics. But the SDP has hit the ground running from Day 2 of the David Ong affair, mobilising quickly to claim Bukit Batok (before the Workers’ Party come and spoil market) and diligently pounding the beat. It’s a second chance to sway some 73 percent of voters. The PAP hasn’t done any of this, but it has the luxury of time now, considering that the PM hasn’t even called for a by-election yet.
Verdict: Chief Chee
But no matter how much ground work…
(5) The Western Bloc
The West belongs to the PAP. Look at the historical trends and you’ll see that that’s the case. Even in GE2015, it was the western bloc that gave the PAP its biggest winning margins.
But from 1991 to 2015, Bukit Batok residents only knew that they were part of Bukit Timah GRC, or Jurong GRC, depending on how the constituency was carved up.
And then there’s the sucker punch (again)…
(6) Lee Kuan Yew
Remember that surprise swing of 10 percent support to the PAP in GE2015? Analysts have put part of that down to the “Lee Kuan Yew Factor”, where his death (and the big ceremony after) won the PAP votes. Guess what’s coming up just before we head to the Bukit Batok By-Election – 1st Year Anniversary of the death of LKY. Memorial sites are already up and in 2 days time we’re going to see another celebration of Singapore’s Great Leader, and that means more “Merdeka…” and promotion of the PAP brand.
Can the SDP and the Chee Soon Juan name sway some 25 percent of PAP supporters to defect and vote Red? Barring any muck-ups (such as another scandal), things aren’t looking very rosy.
Even if it was anyone else besides Murali, even if you got that Malaysia bomoh chap to perform some coconut and ice block routines, it’s hard to see the SDP winning this one.
But the PAP is likely to drop votes and won’t secure as strong a mandate as the passionate botak’s 73 percent. It looks more in the region of the 60s, as voters look to punish the party and hopefully extract more benefits as “compensation” for Ong Ong’s indiscretions (you know, because if you don’t give us what we want, the next time round we might all REALLY vote the other way).
The one good thing to come out of this for the SDP though, is a chance to remind voters of their brand and hope for a better margin in the next General Election.
But, as David Ong and all of us know, the ball is round and anything can happen before the final whistle.