It’s hard to predict the outcome of this particular general elections. The most pessimistic scenario is one where PAP wins all the seats i.e. 87 vs. 0. The most realistic scenarios are either 81 vs.6 or 85 vs. 2, with the Workers Party securing Aljunied and Hougang in the former (and possibly SPP taking Potong Pasir), and SPP and WP securing two in the latter.
What happens if the outcome is 85 vs. 2 i.e. Hougang and Potong Pasir stay opposition, Aljunied stays PAP, albeit by narrow margin? I think voters in Aljunied must look at past elections before voting:
- 1988: Eunos GRC (3-member), PAP vs. WP, 50.89 vs. 49.11
- 1991: Eunos GRC (4-member), PAP vs. WP, 52.39 vs. 47.62
- 1997: Gone!
I’m not sure if the expansion of Eunos GRC in 1991 contributed to the PAP’s slight increase in its margin of victory. Or if there was any gerrymandering in 1991. Look at another example:
- 1997: Cheng San GRC (5-member), PAP vs. WP, 54.82 vs. 45.18
- 2001: Gone!
If the PAP wins Aljunied with a narrow margin on 7 May, in the next elections, there will be a huge possibility the GRC will be carved out. It’ll disappear on the electoral map.
What if the outcome is 81 vs. 6 (or 80 vs. 7) i.e. Hougang, Potong Pasir and Aljunied go to the opposition?
George Yeo, Lim Hwee Hua and Zainal Abidin are presently ministers. They will lose their seats and portfolios, but the PAP government doesn’t crash. And its shortage of talent problem is exaggerated.
Just take a look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Currently, George Yeo is the minister while Zainal Abidin is the Senior Minister of State. The second minister is Raymond Lim, who is also the transport minister. If George Yeo were booted out, the PM still has a few candidates to fill his portfolio:
- Senior Minister Goh himself. He seems to be traveling overseas frequently anyway, so might as well appoint him as Foreign Affairs minister. Still, this is an unlikely decision, because of his age, and the PAP keeps harping about its 4th generation leadership.
- Raymond Lim to become Foreign Affairs minister, and someone else to take his transport portfolio. From the list I complied, MOE and MTI each has an extra minister of state – S Iswaran is holding double portfolios, so he could be promoted to be transport minister. Alternatively, a minister can hold dual portfolios.
- What about minister of state in the Foreign Affairs ministry? It’s likely a minister of state among the new candidates would be appointed anyway, but he or she would have to do without a mentor.
And the Speaker of Parliament?
- Why not Indranee Rajah, the Deputy Speaker?
- No other candidates?
The PAP is simply scaring the electorate. Losing George Yeo is very bad, but it’s their fault anyway. But losing him does not mean the end of the world, since the PAP is likely to have more than two-thirds majority. And from among its MPs, I’m sure most of them are sufficiently capable to become a minister, and not just a mere backbencher.
So, voters in Aljunied should weigh the consequences, as advised by MM Lee. Their future voting choices, or the loss of replaceable ministers?