|HDB flats in Hougang, Singapore. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Should we be surprised by this result? I think not.
Grassroots support in this electorate has in recent times always backed the Workers Party. Issues of social inequality and the basics such as the cost of living, housing and reliability (or otherwise) of public transport have all been factors that contributed to the Opposition's success.
In some ways it is a paradox that Singapore's status and wealth as a modern economy and nation has been built upon the consistency of the local political system; a single party in power since independence has brought stability through the roughest times but it has also engendered a deep desire for change amongst younger and better educated Singaporeans.
As a government it is difficult to counteract this negativity and find fresh faces to motivate the populace whilst at the same time maintaining what they perceive to be a steady course.
There was a modest gain for the PAP over their recent General Election result (a little over 2% in voter support) but they made little inroad into the hold that the Worker's Party have in Hougang.
The growing wealth gap and the suicidal driving of an inebriated Chinese national in his Ferrari, which resulted in the death of an innocent taxi driver and his passenger, certainly did not help matters. Imported foreign expertise is a very sensitive issue and especially when some choose to flaunt their wealth and flout local laws in so doing.
Have a look at this video which shows a well-healed PRC (the term for a foreigner from China) actually bringing a fully laden shopping trolley in to a Singaporean bus and being helped by the bus driver, another PRC. No wonder the locals get upset!
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has put a brave face on it claiming that the result is not a reflection of voter dissatisfaction with the PAP-led Government. I am not sure that I agree with his assessment. While it is true that Hougang is 'special' I suspect part of their antipathy is due to the fact that they feel left out of the rewards of society and measure themselves against the upper echelons of society who they see as receiving greater benefit.
Detractors of Singapore's political system can hardly quibble at this example of democracy in action, nor its outcome.