SINGAPORE: Singapore Premier Lee Hsien Loong's People's Action Party is set to return to power with absolute majority in the fiercely contested general election, dashing hopes of an emboldened opposition seeking to end half a century dominance by one-party.
Three People's Action Party (PAP) candidates have been declared winners.
Sample count results, released publicly for the first time by the Elections Department (ELD), showed PAP in the lead in 26 out of the 29 electoral divisions, and by a massive margin of more than 70 per cent of the votes in 15 of them, according to media reports.
Prime Minister Lee, 63, was re-elected from his group representation constituency (GRC) of Ang Mo Kio. A GRC is a type of electoral division or constituency in Singapore where the MPs are voted into Parliament as a group.
"You've given us your mandate - we'll do our best to serve you," said Lee in his victory speech, delivered in English and Mandarin.
"My team and I in Ang Mo Kio - some of us have served you for many years, some of them are new. Regardless, we'll work together and work hard to build a better home, and we'll speak up and represent you in Parliament."
"We will also represent Singaporeans to build a better Singapore," Lee said.
"The sample count results have been really encouraging across the island, but we don’t want to take them for granted, just as we should never take our residents for granted," PAP candidate Tan Chuan-Jin was quoted as saying.
Opposition leaders acknowledged the sample count results, saying there seems to a bigger swing towards the PAP, which has ruled Singapore for 50 years since independence.
More than 2 million Singaporeans voted today in one of the biggest general election contest.
Opposition politicians have challenge the government on issues related to migrants, cost of living, low wages, foreign workers competing for jobs, the stressed transportation system and the age limit on retirees to withdraw Central Provident Fund, a compulsory savings from salaries.
Politics in the city-state since its independence in 1965 has been dominated by the ruling PAP founded by Lee Kuan Yew, father of Lee, and it has won every election.
The PAP's biggest competition in the election to the 89-seat parliament is the Workers' Party, which in the last parliament had seven MPs.
The opposition is made up of Workers' Party, National Solidarity Party, Singapore Democratic Party, Reform Party, Singaporeans First, Singapore People's Party, Singapore Democratic Alliance and People's Power Party.
In previous elections, the PAP has retained some of its seats without a vote -- known as a walkover -- as no opposition candidate ran against them. But this year every seat in the compulsory election is being contested. It is the first election since the death of long-term leader Lee Kuan, the PAP founder.
PAP's success has been attributed to its widespread popularity among Singaporeans -- who have seen their country rapidly evolve into a first-world economy -- as well as its tight political control.
There are also two independent candidates contesting the polls for the first time since 2001. Nine political parties have fielded candidates in this election.
Twenty-one Indian-origin Singaporeans are among 181 candidates who have filed their nominations to contest the snap general election in which Loong's ruling party's 50 years of political dominance is being tested.
Prominent Indian-origin candidates include Law and Foreign Minister K Shanmugam, Minister in the Prime Minister Office S Iswaran and Environment and Water Resources Minster Vivian Balakrishnan, all political heavyweights from the ruling PAP.