Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an official statement on the PE said voters faced a difficult choice between Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock. He said that this explained why the winning margin is so narrow, and why the winner only gained slightly more than one-third of the total votes.
I am sorry, PM Lee but I do not think that is the most logical explanation for the results.
The were two main dilemmas that voters faced, depending on their political ideologies. For voters who usually votes PAP, it was a choice between Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock. For those who supports the opposition, it was mostly between Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say. If it was a straight fight between Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Dr Tony Tan, the dilemma would have been a lot less. Dr Tan Cheng Bock would have won convincingly.
There are noteworthy hard truths from this PE:
1. Dr Tan Cheng Bock has a powerful and compelling message of unifying people across the political divide. That should not be ignored. It had really reached to voters on both camps, showing that it is something the people desired.
2. Dr Tony Tan is now president-elect of Singapore. He had managed to reach to only the loyalist PAP supporters. A true president of Singapore must now work hard to reach out to the other groups which he could not during the campaigning. The president’s term is 6 years. There is sufficient time to win people’s hearts over and I hope the process starts now.
3. PE is not supposed to be a political contest but it had turned out to be one. We need to ask why? Are people dissatisfied with the disproportionate translaion of 40% of popular votes into only 6 seats out of 87 in the parliament? Do we still want to have an elected president given that it may become another political elections in future rather than a selection for a candidate based on individual credentials? Perhaps after 18 years of elected presidency where there was only one previous election prior to this, it is time now to critically examine this institution and ask ourselves hard truths about whether it is required at all.
Meanwhile, I await to see the future that Dr Tony Tan can help Singapore define even as the establishment grapples with the hard truths from GE2011 and PE2011.