Cheng San Group Representation Constituency

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Cheng San Group Representation Constituency (Simplified Chinese: 静山集选区;Traditional Chinese: 靜山集選區) is a now defunct Group Representation Constituency in the north-eastern region in Singapore. The GRC consisted of the eastern part of Ang Mo Kio, Jalan Kayu, Seletar Hills, part of Serangoon North, a large part of Hougang, Buangkok, and the whole of Sengkang New Town and Punggol New Town.

History[edit]

The GRC was formed in 1988, and absorbed the constituencies of Cheng San, Chong Boon and Jalan Kayu. In the 1991 general election, the constituency was enlarged to include the former Punggol ward. For the general election in 1997, parts of the Chong Boon division of the GRC, bounded by Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, Central Expressway and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, were transferred to Ang Mo Kio GRC. The GRC was an opposition favourite in the 1991 election, and was hotly contested in the 1997 general election between People's Action Party and Workers' Party. The Punggol constituencies were split into Punggol Central, Punggol East and Punggol South as a result of the growing population of Hougang to encourage attacking the population of Sengkang and Punggol which was ready since 1999 and it necessitated the redrawing. The GRC was absorbed into three GRCs in the 2001 general election. The GRCs which absorbed Cheng San GRC were Ang Mo Kio GRC, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and Aljunied GRC due to redrawing of electoral districts by the Elections Department.

Due to the unclear separation of power between the Prime Minister's Office and the Elections Department, the Opposition has often criticised the absorption of Cheng San GRC as gerrymandering on the part of the ruling party. Ang Mo Kio GRC and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC are both 6-member GRCs, making it increasingly harder for the Opposition to contest these constituencies. The two GRCs are currently helmed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean respectively.

1997 general election[edit]

Cheng San GRC became the most hotly contested seat in the Singapore 1997 General Election, and the most widely watched constituency in the whole general election. The People's Action Party team led by Lee Yock Suan, at that time the Minister for Education, faced the contest by a Workers' Party team led by Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, a former opposition Member of Parliament in Singapore. The Workers' Party team included Tang Liang Hong, a senior lawyer.

Having been automatically 're-elected' due to walkovers in their own constituencies, then-Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong and his two deputies from the People's Action Party (PAP) campaigned on behalf for the PAP's candidates in the Cheng San GRC. Goh described himself as "a special candidate" of the constituency and declared that his credibility and reputation as Prime Minister were at stake in the contest. The PAP campaign took on a two-pronged focus. Firstly, the PAP accused Tang of being anti-Christian and a Chinese chauvinist, labelling him a "dangerous man". Secondly, the Prime Minister told Cheng San voters that if they returned PAP candidates to power in the election, they would get a host of benefits. These included access to better transport facilities such as the MRT and LRT, new housing projects, such as Punggol 21, and opportunities to upgrade their HDB apartments and public housing estates. The PAP emphasised that constituencies that failed to return PAP candidates to power would not receive priority in government upgrading programmes and might end up becoming slums.

The Workers' Party's rallies in Cheng San GRC attracted huge crowds. On the eve of Polling Day, 50,000 people attended the Workers' Party rally at Yio Chu Kang Stadium. However, the news coverage of this astounding turnout was disproportionately understated, causing much online criticism of the Straits Times in reporting objectively.

On Polling Day, several top PAP Ministers were within the precinct of polling stations in Cheng San GRC, although they were not themselves candidates in the constituency. The Workers Party believed that this violated the Parliamentary Elections Act. Although Workers' Party's candidates filed police reports, their complaints were, on the advice of the Attorney-General, not prosecuted by the police. The Attorney-General advised that remaining within a perimeter of 200 meters from the external walls of the polling station, as opposed to being within the polling station itself, was not an offence. Later, the Workers' Party renewed its call for a multi-party Election Commission to ensure fair play in the conduct of Parliamentary elections.

The Workers' Party lost in Cheng San GRC, obtaining 44,132 votes, which was 45.2% of the valid votes in the constituency of approximately 98,000 voters. This was a remarkable result for the opposition, in light of the PAP's aggressive campaign in the GRC.

After the 1997 election, Cheng San GRC was redrawn into several different constituencies, causing many to accuse (in a rather well-founded manner) the PAP of gerrymandering. Election gimmicks and promises of flat upgrading were used again during the 2006 election and have been labelled as vote-buying. The latter is nevertheless quite ineffective as witnessed by the fact that Hougang SMC remains in the opposition Workers' Party hands.

Divisions[edit]

Election Cheng San Chong Boon Jalan Kayu Punggol Pungool Central Punggol East Punggol South
1984 SMC SMC SMC SMC
Formation
1988 Lee Yock Suan Sitaram Chandra Das Heng Chiang Meng SMC
1991 Michael Lim Chun Leng
1997 Ang Mo Kio GRC Michael Lim Chun Leng Zainul Abidin Mohamed Rasheed Yeo Guat Kwang
Dissolution
2001 Ang Mo Kio GRC Ang Mo Kio GRC Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC as Punggol Central Dissolved into Aljunied GRC as Kembangan-Punggol and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC (Punggol North ward) Aljunied GRC as Aljunied-Hougang

Candidates and results[edit]

Election Seats Voters Party Candidate(s) Votes Votes %
Cheng San Group Representation Constituency
Singapore general election, 1988 3 59,186 PAP Lee Yock Suan
Sitaram Chandra Das
Heng Chiang Meng
Walkover Walkover
Singapore general election, 1991 4 92,979 PAP Lee Yock Suan
Sitaram Chandra Das
Heng Chiang Meng
Michael Lim Chun Leng
54,963 64.1
NSP Pok Lee Chuen
Chng Chin Siah
Gertrude Magdeline De Gracias
Chng Wee Hong
30,849 35.9
Singapore general election, 1997 5 103,323 PAP Lee Yock Suan
Yeo Guat Kwang
Heng Chiang Meng
Michael Lim Chun Leng
Zainul Abidin bin Mohamed Rasheed
53,553 54.8
WP Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam
Tan Bin Seng
Tang Liang Hong
Huang Seow Kwang
Abdul Rahim bin Osman
44,132 45.2

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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