Straits Times: WP raises poser over results at Cheng San

THE Workers’ Party took issue with the PAP Government yesterday, asking if voters in Cheng San GRC were induced or intimidated into voting for the ruling party.

It would be up to an election judge to give the answer, WP chief J.B. Jeyaretnam said, adding that his party was considering what action it should take.

The unexpected result in Cheng San, he added, could be declared null and void under the law to prevent the majority of voters from voting for the candidates they wanted because of “general bribery, intimidation or other misconduct.”

Citing other provisions in the Parliamentary Elections Act, he asked if the electorate in Cheng San was “super impressed with something preventing them from making their choice without fear”.

Speaking at a post-election press conference, he analysed his party’s narrow loss in Cheng San in three phases – before the date of the General Election was announced, the nine-day campaigning period and what the WP found on Polling Day. He claimed that “everything was in the hands of the Prime Minister” before the date of the GE was announced.

Mr Goh Chok Tong, he said, approved the report on the redrawing of the electoral boundaries to give the PAP maximum advantage. Single seats which the PAP felt could fall to the opposition were put under Group Representation Constituencies.

Singaporeans were bombarded with PAP propaganda for months before the election.

During the campaigning period, air time for the WP was restricted to two television broadcasts, each lasting 3 1/2 minutes. But despite the clampdown on opposition news, he said, rallies held by the WP drew huge crowds which included many people living in Cheng San.

“It is very difficult for us to understand how they could come to our rallies and show their total agreement to what we were saying and then come Polling Day there is a change.”

Apart from what he described as poor media coverage of the opposition, he also blamed the PAP for focusing people’s attention on his Cheng San team-mate, lawyer Tang Liang Hong.

The Prime Minister, he said, also made himself “a candidate” in Cheng San GRC by declaring that the electoral battle there was a personal contest between him and Mr Tang.

Mr Jeyaretnam also spoke out against Mr Goh’s statements that those who voted for the PAP would get their upgrading programmes first and that MPs would know the voting trends in different precincts from the way the votes were counted.

He questioned whether the move was meant to revive the fear among Singaporeans which was removed by the opposition after he was elected as the MP for Anson in 1981.

He argued that Cheng San voters could have been intimidated by Mr Goh’s “win big or lose big” statement on the eve of Polling Day.

And he also complained that Mr Goh, his two deputy premiers and another PAP member, Dr S. Vasoo, who were not contesting the election, were seen at polling stations on Polling Day.

“We are considering what we should do,” he said, adding that one option was for his party to complain to the United Nations body in charge of elections.

Asked by a foreign journalist if he risked being called “sour grapes” if he kept grumbling but did not take any action on the outcome of the Cheng San contest, Mr Jeyaretnam replied that it was too early to make a firm decision as the result came out early yesterday morning.

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