Breaking from the Past: The 2012 Hougang By-Election
In May 2012, one year after the watershed eleventh general elections, Singapore held its first by-election in nineteen years in the single-member constituency of Hougang. The contest was in the opposition heartland held by the Worker’s Party (WP) since 1991. The catalyst was the unprecedented February 15th expulsion of Yaw Shin Leong, the Member of Parliament elected in 2011, on the grounds of moral infidelity. The WP did not feel he was upfront in his alleged extramarital affairs. After waiting over three months to hold the by-election, the ruling party—People’s Action Party (PAP)—slated its previous candidate, Desmond Choo, and in return the WP fielded party loyalist and businessman, Png Eng Huat. The WP won handily, picking up 62.1% of the vote, 2.7% less than in 2011. For all its efforts in the campaign, however, the PAP only managed to win an additional one hundred and forty-five votes.