Singaporean general election, 1997
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The 1997 Singaporean parliamentary election was an election in Singapore which was held on 2 January 1997. 765,332 out of the eligible 1.8 million voters voted and selected their next government. The election results was released in the late evening that day and the ruling People's Action Party won a total of 81 out of 83 seats as well as a tenth consecutive term in office under the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Other major political parties contesting in the election were the Workers' Party, Singapore Democratic Party, National Solidarity Party, Singapore People's Party and the Democratic Progressive Party.
After nomination day on 23 December 1996, the People's Action Party returned to power with a total of 47 out of the total 83 seats and could form a government on nomination day. On polling day, voters voted for the election for their Members of Parliament with all but two seats going to the PAP. In this election, Group Representation Constituencies were increased from four members to four to six members. Housing issues were one of the issues raised during the election.
This was another opportunity for Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong to score a better mandate after PAP's considerably poorer showing in the 1991 election. Two seats in PAP-held Eunos and Toa Payoh GRCs were vacated after the death of MP, Dr Tay Eng Soon and inauguration of former Deputy PM Ong Teng Cheong as Singapore's fifth and first elected President in 1993 respectively. The former GRC, which twice saw narrow wins against WP, was dispersed into neighbouring constituencies.
Meanwhile, the main opposition, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was facing serious internal strife.
SDP Member of Parliament and former leader Chiam See Tong sued his party's central executive committee, including its new leader Dr Chee Soon Juan and one of its MPs, chairman Ling How Doong, for defamation, and won. Prior to nomination day, Chiam resigned from SDP and crossed over to its splinter party, Singapore People's Party. Two opposition candidates who came under heaviest fire from PAP were Dr Chee and Tang Liang Hong, who was standing on the WP ticket with its secretary-general J. B. Jeyaretnam. Tang was accused by PAP of being an anti-Christian Chinese chavunist. Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) went up from four to between four and six seats each. A National Solidarity Party team was disqualified from Tampines GRC after one candidate was found to have his name struck off the electoral rolls for not voting in 1991. For the first time, a Nominated MP - listed company director Chia Shi Teck - ran in an election.
- Braddell Heights SMC merged into Marine Parade GRC
- Brickworks GRC merged into Tanjong Pagar GRC and West Coast GRC
- Bukit Batok SMC merged into Bukit Timah GRC
- Bukit Merah SMC merged into Tanjong Pagar GRC
- Bukit Timah SMC merged into Bukit Timah GRC
- Buona Vista SMC merged into Tanjong Pagar GRC
- Changi SMC merged into East Coast GRC
- Eunos GRC merged into Aljunied GRC, Marine Parade GRC and East Coast GRC
- Jurong SMC merged into Bukit Timah GRC
- Leng Kee SMC merged into Tanjong Pagar GRC
- Mountbatten SMC merged into Marine Parade GRC
- Nee Soon South SMC merged into Ang Mo Kio GRC
- Ulu Pandan SMC merged into Bukit Timah GRC
- Yuhua SMC merged into Bukit Timah GRC
- New GRCs
- Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, created by merging Thomson GRC and Toa Payoh GRC
- Bukit Timah GRC, created by merging Bukit Batok SMC, Bukit Timah SMC, Jurong SMC, Ulu Pandan SMC and Yuhua SMC.
- East Coast GRC, created by merging a section of Eunos GRC and Bedok GRC
- Kreta Ayer-Tanglin GRC, created by merging Kreta Ayer SMC, Tanglin SMC and part of Kampong Glam GRC
- Pasir Ris GRC, created by splitting Pasir Ris division of Eunos GRC
- West Coast GRC, created by splitting Telok Blangah division of Tanjong Pagar GRC and part of Brickworks GRC
- New SMCs
- Changes in electoral seats within GRCs
With the Housing Development Board (public housing) upgrading scheme dangled as a pricy stake for voters, PAP reversed its electoral decline for the first time in four elections and since 1963, won back an opposition ward, recapturing the two SDP seats out of the four it had lost the last round. The PAP's share of the vote rose by 4 percentage points nationally. With Chiam See Tong's defection, SDP had no representation in Parliament since 1984. Low Thia Khiang, now WP assistant secretary-general, and Jeyaretnam as a Non-Constituency MP, returned to the legislature, the latter's last presence was previously in 1986.
|Parties and alliances||Leader||Contested
|Seats won||Popular vote||%||+/-|
|People's Action Party||Goh Chok Tong||83||81†||465,751||65.0||+4.0|
|Workers' Party||Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam||14||1||101,544||14.2||-0.1|
|Singapore Democratic Party||Chee Soon Juan||13||0||76,129||10.6||-1.4|
|National Solidarity Party||Steve Chia||7||0||48,322||6.7||-0.6|
|Singapore People's Party||Chiam See Tong||3||1||16,746||2.3||N.A.|
|Democratic Progressive Party||Tan Soo Phuan||2||0||5,043||0.7||N.A.|
|Did not vote||31,332||-|
|Total voting electorate||765,332||-|
|†includes uncontested victories|
In June 1997, when Nominated MPs were re-appointed, the number was increased from six to nine.
Tang Liang Hong's self-imposed exile
After the election, Worker's Party candidate for Cheng San Group Representation Constituency, Tang Liang Hong was sued for defamation by several of the PAP's leaders, including Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Deputy Prime Ministers Lee Hsien Loong and Tony Tan, who accused him of making statements during the campaign which falsely questioned their integrity. A total of 13 judgements were entered against Tang for defamation.
Tang left Singapore shortly after the election and eventually found refuge in Australia.
- Official elections webpage - Elections Department Singapore
- Singapore-elections - a comprehensive archive of elections results, as well as past ones
Official websites of political parties
- National Solidarity Party
- People's Action Party, Manifesto (PDF)
- Singapore Malay National Organisation, (Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura)
- Singapore Democratic Party, Manifesto
- Singapore People's Party, Manifesto
- Workers' Party of Singapore, Manifesto 2006