After 55 years of single-party rule in Singapore, a best-ever performance for the opposition in Friday’s vote shows the country is ready for an inclusive government with different views, Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim said in an interview.
Speaking to Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin on Monday, Lim said the “hard-line, combative campaigning” that has been a staple of the People’s Action Party in elections appeared to have “backfired” as a younger generation of voters had a vision of Singapore different from their parents.
“We want a Singapore which is inclusive of different views,” she said. “We have to find a way to be more accepting and to talk through our differences.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the results showed “a clear desire for a diversity of voices in Parliament,” adding that the outcome reflected the “pain and uncertainty” caused by a loss of income, anxiety over jobs and virus-related disruptions. Lee hinted at some changes ahead, saying government policies must reflect the younger generation’s “significantly different life aspirations and priorities” compared with older Singaporeans.
As the sole elected opposition in the new parliament, the Workers’ Party won a record 10 seats while securing two group representation constituencies, prompting analysts to declare a “vote for change” that will trigger “soul searching” among the country’s leaders. While the People’s Action Party (PAP) secured the remaining 83 seats, its share of the popular vote was just 61.2% — slightly more than its all-time low of 60.01% in 2011.