Singapore GE: Opposition parties fan out across Singapore to canvass votes on last day of campaign

The Workers’ Party’s (WP) team in the race to retain Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) pounded the pavements near Hougang Mall and Hougang MRT Station early this morning. — TODAY pic
The Workers’ Party’s (WP) team in the race to retain Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) pounded the pavements near Hougang Mall and Hougang MRT Station early this morning. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, July 8 — Candidates from various opposition parties fanned out across Singapore for the last burst of outreach activities early today, the final day of the election campaign before a reprieve on Cooling-Off Day.

Tomorrow is Cooling-Off Day and election campaigning is disallowed. Singaporeans head to the polls on Friday.

Rounding up a nine-day General Election (GE) campaign, the parties again urged the public to vote for the opposition to avoid a one-party parliamentary system and allow other voices to represent them in Parliament.

With Singapore still in the grip of the Covid-19 crisis, party leaders also said ensuring Singaporeans stay employed was a priority and their presence in Parliament would help make sure that resources go into creating jobs for residents.

Speaking to reporters at Bukit Panjang, candidates from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) called on voters to “think critically” and allow more opposition voices to be heard.

In a show of force in the final lap of the campaign, all 11 candidates that the SDP is fielding this GE met voters in the five constituencies they are contesting in a large-scale walkabout.

In the past week, SDP has been singled out by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), which questioned the party’s integrity and attacked its chairman Paul Tambyah and secretary-general Chee Soon Juan over statements that the PAP Government would lift Singapore’s population to 10 million. PAP has called this out as a false statement.

The party has been issued a correction order under Singapore’s anti-fake-news law, known as the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, for claiming that the Housing and Development Board’s chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean had said in a 2018 lecture that Singapore’s population would rise to 10 million by 2030. It now hovers at 5.7 million.

Speaking to reporters at Bukit Panjang, candidates from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) called on voters to “think critically” and allow more opposition voices to be heard. Photo: Janice Lim/TODAY

Media outlets reporting Dr Tambyah’s comments on the outbreak of Covid-19 in foreign workers’ dormitories were also issued correction notices.

Asked whether the attacks that have largely targeted him were because PAP thought he was a threat, Dr Tambyah said: “I am not so egotistical.”

Dr Chee called on voters to pay attention to the issues on which SDP has been campaigning, and not on the mudslinging throughout the campaign, as it does not tackle voters’ concerns.

On the whole, Dr Tambyah said that his team has run a good campaign under “very, very unusual circutances” in which large-scale public rallies and big walkabouts are not allowed.

He added that the party had used different approaches, from electronic rallies to social media platform Reddit, to canvass votes.

But he said the majority of voters would probably not have seen his party’s online materials, and so, he was “not optimistic at all about the outcomes”.

In line with his mission to project opposition unity,  Desmond Lim, chairman of the Singapore Democratic Alliance, also joined Dr Tambyah in Bukit Panjang early Wednesday morning, urging residents of Bukit Panjang to vote for Dr Tambyah.

More robust, sensible debates in parliament

On the sidelines of a walkabout in Braddell, Singapore People’s Party (SPP) secretary-general Steve Chia urged voters who want change to vote for his party.

 Chia, who is contesting Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said that the international community would look at how Singapore is evolving and whether Members of Parliament (MPs) from different parties are able to debate sensibly.

“With respect for each other. I think this will bring about a true beginning of the political system in Singapore,” said  Chia.

Asked about PAP’s emphasis on jobs as the economy is clobbered by the pandemic,  Chia said that his party also wants the next government to look at how to create jobs.

He said: “We want to work with them in Parliament to suggest ideas on how we can allocate resources appropriately into the various areas that can help to create jobs.”

He added that his party would listen to the needs of Singaporeans to devise ideas on creating jobs.

Education is an area of focus. “We need to create an education process where we educate our people in creative thinking, because it is through creative thinking that you create ideas, you create products (and) solutions,” he said.

On the sidelines of a walkabout in Braddell, Singapore People’s Party (SPP) secretary-general Steve Chia urged voters who want change to vote for his party.

Elsewhere, the Workers’ Party’s (WP) team in the race to retain Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) pounded the pavements near Hougang Mall and Hougang T Station early this morning.

WP leaders Pritam Singh and Sylvia Lim, along with  Muhamad Faisal Manap,  Gerald Giam and  Leon Perera, were seen reaching out to voters, but did not take questions from reporters. They were joined by former WP chief Low Thia Khiang.

Shortly afterwards,  Dennis Tan, WP’s candidate for the Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC), canvassed votes at Hougang Avenue 5.

Asked about WP’s campaign in the last nine days,  Tan said that he and his colleagues hoped they had won the confidence of many voters in the six constituencies that the party is contesting.

He appealed to voters for a chance to serve them as the country grapples with the coronavirus.

“It’s important that we have more WP MPs in Parliament to steady the ship for the PAP fourth-generation leadership and that’s very important,” he said.

Separately,  Lim Tean and  Leong Sze Hian of Peoples Voice party were at Bendemeer Market. They are part of a team up against PAP in Jalan Besar GRC.

 Lim Tean, who hel the party, said that the people have had enough of the ruling party’s arrogance when it comes to the cost of living, the Central Provident Fund scheme and housing, and its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 Lim Tean and  Leong Sze Hian of Peoples Voice party were at Bendemeer Market. They are part of a team up against PAP in Jalan Besar GRC.

On jobs,  Leong said that many people have spoken about unemployment and underemployment.

 Lim Tean added: “Singaporeans deserve a far more engaged discussion of the critical issues facing our country.”

People’s Power Party chief Goh Meng Seng, who is up against PAP in MacPherson SMC, told reporters on the sidelines of a walkabout at Geylang East Market and Food Centre that Singaporeans should choose MPs who not only take care of the people but are active on the national level.

“That’s why my campaign message is a strong Parliament, as you need a strong and robust debate,” he said, adding he would bring up issues such as retirement financing and those concerning seniors. “It must be deliberated fully for it to be an effort.” — TODAY

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