Straits Times: Jeyaretnam takes Anson

First Opposition man to beat PAP since 1963


MR JEYARETNAM and Workers’ Party chairman Wong Hong Toy … a prayer.

By LESLIE FONG, AHMAD OSMAN, EDMUND WEE and PAUL JACOB

MR J. B. Jeyaretnam’s long cherished dream of winning a seat in Parliament came true last night when he won the Anson by-election by a margin of 653 votes.

He polled 7,012 votes, or 51.9 per cent of the 13,502 valid votes cast, against the 6,359 votes that went to Mr Pang Kim Hin of the People’s Action Party.

The third candidate, United People’s Front general secretary Harbans Singh, managed only 131 votes and, as this was way below the required one eighth of votes cast, or 1,688 votes, he lost his deposit. There were 244 spoilt ballots.

With his victory, the Workers’ Party secretary general, a sixth-time contender who first began his electoral quest in 1972, became the first man since 1963 to beat the PAP at the polls.

Recount

This was the second time the people of Anson chose a WP leader to represent them – they last did so in 1961 by giving Mr David Marshall, now Singapore’s Ambassador to France, a margin of 546 votes over the PAP’s Mr Mahmud Awang.

Victory for Mr Jeyaretnam, who arrived at the counting centre in Gan Eng Seng School at about 9.25 p.m., was announced by the Returning Officer, Mr Richard Lau, at precisely 10.53 p.m. after a recount.

It sent WP supporters who had thronged the school compound since about 8 p.m. wild with jubilation. They cheered and waved the WP banners they had brought with them.

An overwhelmed Mr Jeyaretnam, red-eyed and voice choking with emotion, told them: “This victory is yours. It is not mine. It is the people’s victory against the might of the PAP and all the government agencies.

“In the face of all this, I feel very, very humble. I thank God for answering the prayers not only of myself but also the hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans.”

Then in a tender reference to his late wife, Margaret, who died last year, he said: “This is also my saddest moment. One person who has fought for your cause as fiercely as I did is not here.”

Embrace

“But I know that although she is not here physically, she is here in spirit. I’m sure she will rejoice tonight, seeing you all here cheering me.”

Then he asked for his son, Philip Anthony, to join him and the WP chairman, Mr Wong Hong Toy, on the dals used by Mr Lau to announce the results. “We’ve won, son,” he said softly to the 17-year-old boy, and then hugged him.

They remained in silent embrace for a full five minutes. Then Mr Wong joined in and put his arms around both of them.

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