SINGAPORE: Singaporeans vote in a by-election today that will test whether Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is winning back support after the ruling party’s poorest performance at polls last year.
About 23,000 people, or 1% of the electorate, are eligible to vote in the Hougang district in northeastern Singapore today before polls close at 8 p.m.
The seat has been held by the opposition Workers’ Party since 1991 and is vacant after Yaw Shin Leong, who won 64.8 percent of votes in 2011, was expelled from his party in February for what it called "indiscretions in his private life."
The People’s Action Party was returned to power in May last year with the smallest margin of victory since independence in 1965 and record opposition gains, prompting Lee to pledge his party will change the way it governs.
While candidates have campaigned on local issues such as improving public housing, a survey of 50 residents by Today newspaper this month showed a majority of residents are looking at national policies, including the cost of living and the influx of foreigners.
"The by-election is seen as a report card on how the government has fared in the past year," said Kit Wei Zheng, a Singapore-based economist at Citigroup Inc.
The People’s Action Party candidate is Desmond Choo, 34, a trade union official and former police officer. The Workers’ Party nominated 50-year-old businessman Png Eng Huat.
While today’s poll will be a barometer of support for government policies, it won’t alter the balance in parliament, where Lee’s party has 81 of the 87 seats. The People’s Action Party has governed the country since 1959. (Bloomberg/tw)