In 2009, further changes were made to the political system. Non-Constituency Member of Parliament seats were increased to nine - up from between three and six - and the Nominated MP scheme was installed as a permanent feature. With that, the new Parliament would have the largest number of non-PAP voices since 1963.
The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report, released on 24 February 2011 after having placed with the Prime Minister's Office three days earlier, upped the number of SMCs to 12 - from nine in the past three GEs - and reduced the average size of GRCs to five members, paving way for the return of four-member GRCs since 1997. Also, a one-day cooling-off period before polling day was introduced, extending the difference between the nomination and polling days by one day to ten days, up from the minimum nine.
For the second time, PM Lee Hsien Loong was leading PAP into a GE. It was the most hotly contested GE since 1963. The ruling party had been fraught with several issues such as rising costs, widening income gap, large influx of foreigners, financial losses incurred by national corporations and several prominent security lapses. The fielding a young female candidate, Tin Pei Ling, also raised some controversy.
Two seats - one within Jurong GRC and the other within Ang Mo Kio GRC - fell vacant after the death of PAP MPs Dr Ong Chit Chung in 2008 and Dr S. Balaji in 2010 respectively. However, the PAP government was not obligated by the law to hold by-elections and did not do so despite calls by several NMPs and activists.
Compared to the previous GE, the opposition camp was more fractionalised this time. Additional entrants to the fray were NSP and SPP, both having left the SDA alliance and reverted to their own banners for the first time since 1997, along with the new RP.
Despite so, the opposition was in a stronger position and fielded many high-profile recruits, including SDP's Tan Jee Say who was Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's former principal private secretary. Collectively, they contested nearly seat except for a failed bid in Tanjong Pagar GRC - helmed by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew - by what could have been the first independent GRC team, which comprised mostly renegade PKMS and SF members.
Opposition veteran J. B. Jeyaretnam passed away shortly after establishing RP in 2008, leaving it rudderless until his elder son, Kenneth Jeyaretnam took over. He ousted his late father's long-time loyalists, some whom formed SF. RP grew to become possibly the largest opposition party but a spate of resignations before the GE reduced its numbers once again.
Among those who left RP, several joined NSP. One, Nicole Seah, gained fame for contesting SM Goh's ward as a "more mature alter-ago" of Tin. Ang Mo Kio GRC was close to a non-contest until RP borrowed candidates from SF and SPP.
But the biggest unprecedented move was when both incumbent opposition MPs stepped out of their "safe" seats to contest GRCs. WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang joined hands with chairman and NCMP Sylvia Lim in Aljunied GRC and replacing him in Hougang was Yaw Shin Leong. Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong handed his ward of 28 years to his wife, Lina Loh, to lead a SPP team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
However, the destinies of WP and SPP went contrasting paths. WP achieved a breakthrough by capturing a GRC and successfully defended its incumbent seat, while SPP failed in both. During the campaign, the cannons of PAP were aimed at WP's Chen Show Mao, a renowned international lawyer who had been away from Singapore for many years. As polling drew closer, PAP fired directly at the credible Low, causing some ground dissatisfaction.
The six seats clinched by WP was the largest number by a single opposition party and total combined opposition since independence, surpassing the three won by SDP and one by WP in 1991. Together with two NCMPs, WP had eight seats. Chiam, Singapore's longest-serving opposition MP, bowed out of politics and Loh took up the remaining NCMP seat.
Traditionally regarded as a PAP "fortress", a GRC fell to the opposition for the first time in history. In the process, two PAP ministers were voted out - the popular George Yeo and only woman minister Lim Hwee Hua, in deja vu of 1991 where first woman minister Dr Seet Ai Mee lost her seat. In the post-independent context, this was also PAP's lowest vote share and the first time opposition MPs were elected in their maiden contest.
Immediately after the GE, MM Lee and SM Goh - both whom were former prime ministers - announced their retirement from the new Cabinet, marking the end of an era.
|11th Parliament dissolution:
19 April 2011, Tuesday
27 April 2011, Wednesday
6 May 2011, Friday
7 May 2011, Saturday
11 May 2011, Wednesday
|12th Parliament convention:
10 October 2011, Monday
2,350,873 [OV: 3,675]
139,771 [OV: 222] (5.9%)
2,211,102 [OV: 3,453] (94.1%)
2,060,373 [OV: 2,683] (93.2%)