'It doesn't quite feel like defeat'
Despite loss, SDP members consider improved results to be encouraging
She stood in front of the stands, listening intently as Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Dr Chee Soon Juan gave his thank-you speech last night.
Ms Connie Zhou was among the supporters who had gathered at Bukit Gombak Stadium to wait for the result of the Bukit Batok by-election.
Supporters were devastated by Dr Chee's defeat. He received 38.79 per cent of the 24,192 votes.
Ms Zhou, 50, sobbed when Dr Chee walked up to supporters to thank them personally.
The freelance trainer, who lives in Holland Village, told The New Paper on Sunday: "All of us here were expecting him to perform better... or rather, for Bukit Batok (residents) to show Dr Chee the (same) heart that he has been pouring out to them."
The disappointment filled the air, despite the fact that last night's result was Dr Chee's best showing since he took part in his first General Election in 1992.
He also performed better than his colleague, Mr Sadasivam Veriyah, who contested the Bukit Batok SMC in the 2015 General Election.
Mr Sadasivam, 63, a former teacher, had received 26.4 per cent of the votes.
Speaking to the media, Dr Chee, 53, acknowledged that "every time you don't meet the 50 per cent threshold, you are very disappointed".
He said the SDP had always known the campaign would be an "uphill battle".
Addressing the swing in votes, Dr Chee said: "We're very encouraged by that (the result).
"It's the trajectory we're always very concerned about, and we want to continue this momentum."
Dr Chee pointed out that his opponent for this by-election had not been just Mr Murali Pillai of the People's Action Party (PAP), but the "state machinery" and the media.
When asked for the reasons for his defeat, Dr Chee said he would be analysing the results before commenting.
Dr Chee's colleague, Mr Sadasivam, told TNPS that the result was "surprising", given that the opposition usually had an advantage because of the "by-election effect". This refers to voters choosing the opposition party, knowing that the ruling PAP will not be toppled from power overnight.
Still, Mr Sadasivam considered the 12 percentage point increase in votes from the 2015 General Election to be an "encouragement".
Mr Sadasivam said: "Dr Chee may have lost this election, but you can count on him to be around during the next election because his intention is to serve the people."
A promise that Dr Chee had made as he went on the makeshift stage with his wife, Dr Huang Chih-Mei.
He said: "I'm so touched, so honoured. This doesn't quite feel like a defeat.
"For those who didn't vote for us, I will be around to persuade and to continue to serve, work and convince you to vote for SDP the next round."
2015 General Election
Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
2001 General Election
1997 General Election
Marine Parade GRC