[UPDATED on 27 Jan: Adding Sylvia's comments on AIM]
The voters have spoken -- and they want the government to work harder.
So says Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Kiang, referring to the decisive margin of victory for candidate Lee Li Lian over the PAP rival Dr Koh Poh Koon.
"The results of the by-election show that Punggol East residents still expect the government to work harder. Although many policies have been reviewed... results show that the effect has not really trickled down to the ground," he said during a media briefing at the WP headquarters after results had been announced.
"People still feel the pressure of high cost of living and many other things as well. So I would expect the government to work harder on that and the Workers' Party will assist whenever we can," he added.
WP chairman Sylvia Lim also said the importance of the victory was not to be underestimated.
"This is also an important episode for Singaporeans to take note of, the value of political competition in getting the government to sit up and take notice," she said.
"Despite this victory, the Workers' Party is still a small party with much to do and improve upon," she said, dismissing the idea that Singapore was close to being a two-party system.
"The Workers' Party will continue to serve residents in Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC and now the residents of Punggol East SMC on the ground and in Parliament."
Winning candidate and now MP-elect Lee wasted no time in knuckling down to the work ahead, taking the chance to announce that her Meet-the-People sessions would start on 4 February, 7:30 - 9:30pm at 135 Rivervale Street.
"My most immediate task is to build up the town council, as we are all aware the current Punggol East town council is actually under the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, so that will be the most immediate thing that I need to do," said the 34-year-old sales trainer.
Saying it was "possible" that she would quit her current job to become a full-time MP, she also told the media to expect a statement soon on whether Punggol East town council would be merged with the Aljunied-Hougang town council.
Impact of AIM saga on Punggol East?
Asked later on about how the recent AIM saga might affect Punggol East Town Council or Lee's planned MPS, given that the terms of the standing agreement between the PAP town councils and the party-owned company are still in place, Lim said she did not think the PAP-run town council would stop their plans.
"Right now we're not fully cognizant of the arrangements that apply to Punggol East because we don't have those documents on hand, so we don't know if there have been any developments (with respect to the AIM agreement) since then," she said. "But of course everybody hopes for a smooth handover, especially since there's an MND review pending... We'll have to work towards taking over but I hope that everyone will behave sensibly."
Lim also made no attempt to hide her gladness at having a second elected female opposition MP, voicing her hopes that Lee's success will pave the way for more women entering politics here.
"I certainly hope that more women will come forward," she said. "It's important to have more women in politics, more because politicians are supposed to represent society as a whole, and we'd like of course for Parliament to be as representative as possible -- so I think having more women will certainly help rather than hurt."
Watch a video of the party's press conference after their historic win here:
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