Singapore: Politician's Expulsion Triggers By-Election

Following the emergence of allegations of extramarital affairs, the opposition Worker's Party of Singapore has expelled Yaw Shin Leong from the party, thus triggering a by-election in the Single Member Constituency of Hougang.

Both Yaw and the party had previously been criticised for their handling of the allegations, namely by refusing to respond or address any of the rumours. The WP cited a lack of accountability on Yaw's part as a reason for his expulsion:

Shin Leong has been accused of several indiscretions in his private life.  By continuing not to account to the Party and the people, especially the residents of Hougang, he has broken the faith, trust and expectations of the Party and People.

For a country where citizens have rarely had a chance to vote (due to walkovers), so many elections in such quick succession – the 2011 General Election, the 2011 Presidential Election and now the upcoming by-election – has proven to be very exciting indeed. Reactions quickly emerged on Twitter as Singaporeans discussed the upcoming contest in Hougang, many using the hashtag #hougangbyelection.

@RealSingaporean: Imagine if the whole Singapore gets to vote for the #hougangbyelection; then we can really see how many people really support the PAP (Singapore's ruling party).

@adesabrina: I think I hear a lot of champagne popping in one party. #hougangbyelection

@talkkok: I can already think of ten diatribes PAP is going to use against WP in the 2016 elections based on this ysl affair. #hougangbyelection

@Ee_Justin: WP VS PAP, hopefully no other parties come and dilute the votes again. Will lightning strike twice? #hougangbyelection

Ng E-Jay of SGPolitics praised the WP's move on his Facebook page:

4 days ago, I made the call that Yaw must either come clean, or he must resign. Since he did neither, WP has done the right thing by sacking him. I applaud WP for making the right decision. The ugly episode can finally be put to rest, because of this decisive action by WP that shows, courage, foresight, and integrity. Kudos to WP!

However, some did not see the move as purely for the sake of accountability and transparency:

@ctham: Sacking someone for not explaining his private life is political expediency and giving credence to rumour, not accountability.


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