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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        9  May 2011

Singapore elections signal change

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pledged his People's Action Party (PAP) will change the way it governs after returning to power with the smallest margin of popular votes and the opposition won a record number of seats.

The party, in power since independence in 1965, won 81 out of 87 parliamentary seats and 60.1 percent of the vote on May 7, compared with about 67 percent in the 2006 election, Elections Department data show. Two cabinet members lost their seats, including Foreign Minister George Yeo, as the opposition Workers' Party won a multiple-seat district for the first time.

Lee, 59, faces pressure to be more responsive to criticism of government policies. He said his party will engage the population more in decision-making after what he called a "watershed" election. A reduced monopoly on political discourse may mean increased attention to calls for reining in housing costs and tightening immigration policies that boosted the island's population by about a fifth since 2005.

In the run-up to elections, the government pledged to build more homes and review the income ceiling that lets families buy new units from the public housing authority, instead of through the more expensive resale market.

A higher income ceiling would also allow more people to get lower interest rates on mortgages from the Housing & Development Board, rather than banks such as DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and United Overseas Bank Ltd.

The election results actually are a sign that Singapore has come of age as voters are choosing to see alternatives to the PAP, rather than blindly follow it.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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