Workers' Party Sengkang GRC victory had a lot to do with young S'poreans & issues concerning them

Young Singaporeans have spoken.

Nyi Nyi Thet | July 11, 2020, 05:36 AM

Sengkang GRC, a new group representation constituency (GRC), has become the second GRC to have been won by the opposition.

There are of course a myriad of reasons why this result came to be.

The overall performance of the opposition in GE2020 was much stronger than in 2015, with Workers' Party (WP) gaining a stronger foothold in both Hougang and Aljunied.

That general performance might suggest a broader inclination for perhaps a varied parliamentary representation.

Demography is destiny

But one striking thing about Sengkang GRC could be the demographics itself.

Sengkang is a new constituency, with many young families.

All four WP candidates have children under the age of four. 

In an interview with Mothership on Jul 4, the WP Sengkang team hopes that the profile of their own families is a good reflection of Sengkang's "relatively younger demographic".

The Straits Times reported that over 60 per cent of Sengkang's residents are below the age of 45, while over 5 per cent are younger than five years old — figures which are above the national average.

Issues concerning young Singaporeans

Given these demographics, the WP team told Mothership that they sought to bring a diversity of experience into Parliament "in terms of our private sector experience, [and] in terms of our roles as fathers, as sons, and as women", bringing to the table their experiences as members of the sandwich generation, both Louis Chua and He Tingru said.

The young team from Sengkang, boasting the youngest candidate (now the youngest member of parliament) at 26 years old, touched upon a thread that perhaps their opponents did not.

In fact, in her thank you speech after the vote count thanked the young people of Sengkang.

"The number of young people who have come out to walk with us, to volunteer, who've actually expressed their interest and hope for a better future for Singapore has really touched me."

In WP Sengkang's constituency broadcast, the team touched on issues of young parents, as well as pivoted on their own youth and role as young parents.

If what these young Singaporeans want is indeed a fair electoral process, and more robust debate, these young people might not take as kindly to things like POFMAs during elections, or unnecessarily harsh press statements against the opposition.

As with every generation, the definition for what constitutes good governance undoubtedly changes as well, perhaps younger Singaporeans, at the very least in Sengkang, has signalled their willingness to listen to alternative voices.

Image from Edwin Koo