When General Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st Airborne defending the besieged town of Bastogne at the Battle of the Bulge, was told of the Nazi demand to surrender, McAuliffe responded with the famous retort and a morale booster to his troops: "Nuts!" Like the puzzled Germans, MM Lee must be trying to comprehend how Low Thia Khiang managed to respond to his 2006 taunt to move out of Hougang SMC and secure a GRC.
Except for that spearhead victory, and Low's protege's impressive debut at Hougang, Singaporeans may not have much else to celeberate. True, the poor showings at Goh Chok Tong's Marine Parade GRC (56.6%) and Wong Kan Seng's Bishan-Toa Payoh (56.9%) may be a harbinger of the same fate at Aljunied at the next election. Bottom line, the incumbents still garnered 60.1 % of the votes.
One of the hot button issues in this election, resonant in all the opposition camps' rallies, was the cost of public housing. Workers’ Party candidate Lee Li Lian, who contested the Punggol East SMC, took the fight to the hated National Development Minister thus, "Dear Mr Mah Bow Tan, I am sure many Singaporeans here tonight would agree with me that the length of our mortgage loan is an issue. Mr Mah, I am just curious... do you want your own child to take 30, 40 or even 50 years to repay his or her own housing loan? And I am sorry Mr Mah, I forgot you actually do not have that issue, you have the money to pay for private housing, unlike us."
But when Mah counter attacked by claiming the Workers' Party's proposal to lower land prices for HDB flats would devalue the assets of 1 million HDB home owners, he struck at the Achilles heel and hit a raw nerve. In this toxic policy of the private sector linked HDB pricing, Mah is like the drug peddler who gives free shots to get one hooked. Fearful of the pangs of withdrawal, the addicted will refuse the horrors of the cold turkey cure. Suddenly, the status quo appears more desirable than the alternative.
This year's voter turnout at 93.06% represents the lowest in more than two decades - it was 94.04 % in 2006, and 95.91% in 1991. Lina Chiam lost Potong Pasir by 114 votes (0.36%), and Charles Chong barely made it with 382 votes (2%) in Joo Chiat where the turnout was only 87.7%. There could be a myriad of reasons, including the mysterious failure of the Elections Department to send out thousands of ballot cards and vague cut-off dates to qualify overseas voters. But the fear of impending doom looms large. Never mind if the international commodity prices have already crashed, and oil price is starting to head south. And if the property bubble bursts in 2012 as predicted by some pundits, some Singaporeans would rather let nature take its course than be associated with it through a vote for the opposition's salvation plans. They seem to prefer the seduction of Mah's blue pill, instead of a rude awakening.