Bukit Batok By-Election: Ground Ripe for Workers’ Party to Journey to the West

RONALD LEE: The Workers’ Party has never been one to shy away from a 3-cornered fight. It also doesn’t shy away from claiming territory that other opposition parties have already “choped”. Recall how the WP and its supporters railroaded the NSP out of MacPherson SMC, and Steve Chia out from the whole of GE2015. Even with the SDP declaring that it will once again contest in Bukit Batok, will that be enough put off the WP?

Bukit Batok is a new SMC, freshly carved out in GE2015. It’s fertile ground for opposition parties to sink roots:

-a smaller area means campaigning costs will be lower compared to a GRC
-a better chance to start afresh with voters who were forced to vote afresh because they got booted from their previous constituency.

This is how good a fresh start is, judging from GE2015:


And in this case, there’s the added “trust” boost, considering that the incumbent, David Ong, let his constituents down and resigned in shame.

Looking at the results of GE2015, it seems that the WP is floundering in its eastern stronghold:

-vote share dropping in Hougang
-key leaders like Sylvia Lim dragging Aljunied down, such that it beat Victor Lye and the Unknowns by just 1 percent
-young all-stars struggling in East Coast

Fengshan SMC was perhaps the WP’s only consolation, with Dennis Tan securing more than 40 percent of the vote despite his first time contesting.

The ground in the East isn’t as fertile as it was back in GE2011, and the WP might find that expanding by branching out from Hougang to adjacent constituencies isn’t the best way forward. Perhaps a journey to the West then?

Lee Li Lian is still out of action, saying she didn’t want any part of the NCMP-ship because Punggol-East residents didn’t want her. She’s likeable, in a chummy way.

She’s never walked the ground in Bukit Batok, but she’s a familiar face, and going by the WP’s line of reasoning, her exposure as a former NCMP should have given her enough public exposure and credence.

Pushing a lady candidate might also be a better option, since there’s always the Yaw Shin Leong China lady shindig looming from 2011.

Of course, this wouldn’t be pleasing to the SDP or other parties which have taken root in the West, such as the Reform Party. But again, the WP isn’t one to “give face” where there’s gains to be made.

And with the SDP winning just above 20 percent of the vote share in Bukit Batok in GE2015, the odds that they can tip the scale this time round by such a big margin against the PAP brand looks unlikely.

Will the WP be tempted to try its luck once the Prime Minister all for by-election?


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