SINGAPORE, July 1 — The flurry of activity that typifies Nomination Day, which fell yesterday, was slightly muted this year, as Singapore’s 13th General Election (GE) after independence is being held during a pandemic. Unlike previous years, supporters, who usually lend a carnival atmosphere to the proceedings, were not allowed to show up at the nomination centres.
Still, the day held no lack of excitement as the various political parties filed their nomination papers and confirmed their candidacies for the July 10 polls. Nominations for GE2020 closed yesterday afternoon, confirming contests in all 93 seats by 192 candidates from 11 political parties.
In case you missed it, here were some highlights of the day:
1. Two three-corner fights
Constituents in Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and Pioneer Single Member Constituency (SMC) will have to choose from among three options.
The People’s Action Party (PAP), Singapore Democratic Alliance and Peoples Voice will battle it out in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, because the two opposition parties could not come to an agreement over who should contest there.
Pioneer SMC is being contested by PAP’s Patrick Tay, Progress Singapore Party’s Lim Cher Hong and independent candidate Cheang Peng Wah.
2. A surprise independent candidate
Cheang, a business consultant, turned up out of the blue at Jurong Pioneer Junior College to file his nomination papers. He will be the only independent candidate this GE, as a few others who showed up failed in their respective bids.
In the last GE in 2015, there were two independent candidates: Activist Han Hui Hui, who ran in Radin Mas SMC, and software firm managing director Samir Salim Neji, who ran in Bukit Batok SMC.
Before that, there had been no independent candidates in a GE since 2001.
3. Heng Swee Keat moves to East Coast
Heng Swee Keat, PAP’s first assistant secretary-general, unexpectedly showed up at the nomination centre at St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School in Bedok North to file nomination papers for East Coast GRC.
He had been a Member of Parliament (MP) at Tampines GRC since 2011.
His candidacy in East Coast GRC was a closely guarded secret, amid talk that he or another PAP heavyweight would move to the constituency to replace Lim Swee Say, a former manpower minister who had retired from politics.
Heng will lead the five-member team against the Workers’ Party team, which includes former National Solidarity Party member Nicole Seah.
4. Desmond Lee moves to West Coast for a face-off with Tan Cheng Bock
PAP’s Desmond Lee, who was MP for Jurong GRC before parliament was dissolved, moved over to West Coast GRC to join S. Iswaran.
Their five-member team will be up against the Progress Singapore Party’s team, headed by its secretary-general and former longtime PAP MP, Dr Tan Cheng Bock.
5. Two new PAP candidates running in SMCs
Two new faces from PAP will run in single-seat wards: Gan Siow Huang in Marymount SMC and Yip Hon Weng in Yio Chu Kang SMC.
Gan will go up against PSP’s Ang Yong Guan, while Yip will face PSP’s Kayla Low.
Gan, who is Singapore Armed Forces’ first woman brigadier-general, had initially been expected to stand as part of the team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
Yip is a career public servant and was, until recently, group chief of the Agency for Integrated Care’s Silver Generation Office, and was the advisor of care integration in the Ministry of Health.
6. Lee Hsien Yang not running in GE
After a week of keeping the public in suspense, Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and a newly inducted PSP member, was not fielded in the opposition party’s line-up for this election.
He turned up on Tuesday morning outside Bendemeer Primary School, the nomination centre for Tanjong Pagar GRC, but was there only to lend moral support to his fellow party members.
After nominations were filed yesterday, Lee posted a note on Facebook, saying that he chose not to stand for political office because he believes “Singapore does not need another Lee.” — TODAY