Five flashpoints in Singapore’s general election | Singapore Informer

Singaporeans head to the polls on Friday in what some observers have suggested is the city-state’s most important election since independence. Opposition parties are fielding candidates in all of the country’s 29 electoral divisions — the first time the People’s Action party has faced such a challenge in its half-century of unbroken rule over the tiny Southeast Asian nation. Here are five issues looming in voters’ minds. Immigration The loosening of immigration controls has helped drive Singapore’s economy, with the use of foreigners — ranging from worksite labourers to white-collar financial services employees and domestic helpers — fuelling growth over the decades. The population ballooned from 4.4m in 2006 to 5.5m in 2014, placing pressure on infrastructure and heightening competition for jobs, although the unemployment rate is still only 2 per cent. Overcrowding, buoyed by 1.6m foreigners, has chafed with locals, a fact that Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister, has acknowledged. “We cannot close our doors completely. [But] if we let in too many foreign workers, our society will come undone,” he said. Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch note that Singapore’s “non-resident population growth has slowed to 2.9 per cent in 2014, down from an average of more than 10 per cent during 2005-2010”. Check on ruling party’s power The 2011 election was noted by observers as a “watershed election” when the dominance of the PAP was tested for the first time in Singapore’s half-century of statehood. Although the PAP won 81 of 87 seats, its vote share fell to 60.1 per cent —…

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