New Paper: After PM stops him at Cheng San, another big question arises: Will he still get in?

ELECTION ’97


Mr Tang: May become a Non-Constituency MP.

THE Workers’ Party was beaten Cheng San last night – but the man whom the PAP leaders had staked their all against, might still have a place in Parliament.

Lawyer Tang Liang Hong, 61, whom the PAP had labelled an anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist, could become a Non-Constituency MP.

The Constitution states that there will be three NCMPs should one party sweep all wards. They will be offered to the “best losers”.

As two opposition MPs have been elected, that leaves one NCMP seat. The “best loser” last night was the WP Cheng San team, which polled 45.18 per cent of the vote.

The twist, however, is this: WP chief J B Jeyaretnam appeared more upset – that his protest over the presence of ministers at polling stations earlier in the day had been quashed – than heartened at the prospect of having a WP NCMP.

Asked if he – or Mr Tang – would take the post, he replied: “At the moment, the question does not arise.”

If Mr Tang becomes an NCMP, it would appear that the PAP’s attempts to keep him out of the highest forum in the land have come to nought.

As an NCMP, he would have the right to ask questions and join in debates. He can also cast votes – except on constitutional or money matters.

The PAP had played a high-stakes game in Cheng San, with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and his two deputies placing their reputations on the line to secure a decisive win in Cheng San.

The PAP won 54.82 per cent of the votes cast. PM Goh seemed pleased enough with the results.

Speaking at a 2.30 am press conference at Singapore Conference Hall this morning, he described the Cheng San vote as a rejection of the racial politics Mr Tang advocated.

“They have shown their continued support for a harmonious multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual society, with English as the common working language.”

Mr Tang declined to speak to reporters at the announcement centre at ITE Bishan last night.

But in a speech to supporters after the results were announced at 2.20 am, he said the WP “will raise some important questions” later today.

“This battle has not ended.”

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