SINGAPORE : Vote counting for Singapore's 2006 General Election ended on Wednesday with the tallying of the votes cast at eight overseas centres.
And 8 in 10 overseas Singaporeans voted for the People's Action Party (PAP).
This is the first overseas voting exercise in Singapore's electoral history.
When the registration of overseas voters closed, the number of electors stood at 1,017.
And the figure was nearly halved after Nomination Day, as 47 seats in the 84-seat Parliament were contested.
On polling day, 335 Singaporeans who were abroad, including 11 officers assigned by the Returning Officer to oversee the voting process overseas, voted at the eight overseas polling centres.
The centres were located in cities including Beijing, Canberra, London, Washington, San Francisco, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
After the polls closed, all the security processes that are adopted back home at the polling booths were applied at the overseas centres.
The ballot boxes were brought back under tight security, and were cleared in front of candidates or their election agents at the ITE Balestier Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
All in, it took just 45 minutes to count the overseas votes.
In this election, the overseas votes did not affect the election results.
This is because the winning margin based on the votes cast in Singapore was higher than the number of overseas voters for each constituency.
But where overseas votes are concerned, the Peoples' Action Party won in all the contested wards except for Nee Soon Central where the PAP lost to the Workers' Party by 2 votes to 1.
In opposition-held Potong Pasir, the PAP had nine votes and the Singapore Democratic Alliance had three.
As for the other opposition-held ward of Hougang, it was a draw of two votes for each candidate.
"I hope the qualification can be extended to allow more people to vote, especially those who are overseas for a long time. I believe they have a sense of participation and nation(hood)," said Workers' Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang.
This is the first time overseas voting is being held for Singapore's General Election.
However, some Singaporeans asked whether these votes really matter, especially when the results of the polls were announced on Polling Day and candidates who were duly elected were declared as members of Parliament.
The Elections Department has explained overseas votes do matter, if the votes counted locally for a particular ward is inconclusive.
The announcement of the result would have been deferred till overseas votes are counted.
It says the number of overseas votes will be added to the local votes.
The total number of votes will also be published in the Government Gazette, so every vote by Singaporeans does matter during the final count.
11 May 2006