Governance of a City-State
[The Angle] The road to GE2015: Weekly Round-Up (24 to 28 August 2015)

The next General Election was announced two days after the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally Speech, on 25 August setting out that Nomination Day will be 1 September and polling day, 11 September, a month after the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee released its report.

The government provided further details to one announcement from the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally (NDR) Speech pertaining to childbearing – the Baby Bonus cash gift for those born on 1 January 2015 onwards will be increased by $2000 for a total of $8000. Also, the Medishield Life grant will be raised from $1000 to $4000 to provide coverage for them till they are 21 years of age.

It also introduced a surprise bonus for Singaporeans on the other end of the demographic spectrum – the $3 billion Action Plan for Successful Ageing which includes plans for a Silver Talent Academy to facilitate lifelong learning, inter-generational care centres and the construction of more elder friendly infrastructure across the country.

The Lightning Bolt and the Hammer

The People’s Action Party (PAP) decided to introduce its candidates for the opposition Workers’ Party (WP)-held wards and those on its borders last, but WP was determined to keep its cards close to its chest by only introducing its candidates while not divulging where they would stand, apart from the fact that the current WP MPs would defend their constituencies.

But by the end of the week, the PAP bound by its own promise to introduce its candidates early, revealed all its cards.

The WP released its tagline – ‘Empower Your Future’. Chairman, Sylvia Lim explained that it relates to the idea that the vote gives citizens’ bargaining power vis-à-vis the government and that as they exercise it, they empower themselves to shape their future.

The WP and opposition parties argue that the change towards re-distributive and inclusive policy measures by the government was a result of how voters exercised that power in GE2011 and the breakthrough the WP made.

Emeritus Minister Goh Chok Tong countered that this week, in the formal introduction of the PAP Marine Parade GRC team by referring to the story of the rooster who thought that it was the reason the sun rose every day; saying WP was claiming false credit. ESM Goh added: ‘They (WP) are stronger than the National Solidarity Party (NSP), there is no doubt about that…there is a certain arrogance in them’ and challenged them to try and unseat his team in Marine Parade.

Another party stalwart, former Cabinet Minister Lim Boon Heng tasked with helping the PAP strategise to take back Aljunied said that while the mood there ‘has changed’, it was still an uphill task to unseat the WP in that GRC. The PAP is fielding Yeo Guat Kwang confirming rumours that he would ‘return’ to Aljunied after he had been absorbed into Ang Mo Kio GRC previously. Yeo said it was ‘good to be home’. The PAP is also putting three candidates who have worked the ground there after the last GE and included one more person, Shamsul Kamar who had been a grassroots leader there from 2006 to 2011. He too, called it a ‘homecoming’.

Perhaps the real battles will be in the constituencies surrounding these WP strongholds, contested by the current PAP Team in the East Coast GRC and likewise in Marine Parade GRC save for the reassigned Edwin Tong joining to contest in the Joo Chiat component of it. Charles Chong will stand in Punggol East SMC for the PAP – another homecoming, as the voters there will have a choice between him and the current MP of WP, Lee Li Lian.

The WP introduced several young professionals to stand on its ticket. These included Associate Professor Daniel Goh of the National University of Singapore who was quite soon the victim of a poison pen letter. He stated categorically that its contents were baseless but also shared on his Facebook account his wife’s dismissal of it as ‘gutter politics’ and made a police report.

Another of its fresh faces Luke Goh decried the government’s mistakes in government policy and said eerily: ‘Many of our brothers and sisters are missing today because they were aborted 30 to 40 years ago; our mothers cried but nobody listened. The Graduate Mothers’ programme added insult to injury.’

The WP introduced 12 new faces this week and given that it will contest 28 seats, there are nine more to go.

NSP Saga

As for developments directly related to the parties contesting in the GE, there was more unhappy news from the NSP which was a significant force in GE2011 when it contested 24 seats.

On 24 August, Mohamed Fazli Bin Talip, another CEC member resigned as he was ‘disappointed by some of the decisions that were made by the party which had impugned on the party’s credibility’. Then acting Secretary General, Hazel Poa had done the same on 19 August on the matter of contesting in MacPherson SMC which threatened to split the vote there with the WP having staked a claim there.

CEC Member Steve Chia who said he planned to stand in Macpherson SMC following Poa’s shock resignation, withdrew his plan on 23 August after netizens raked up his unhappy past to discredit him – he said the ‘trolls have won’.

Despite the setbacks, NSP Organising Secretary Spencer Ng reiterated the party’s plans to contest in Macpherson in addition to Tampines GRC, Sembawang GRC and Pioneer SMC, and its President Sebastian Teo said he would rebuild the party.

The other parties

The Singapore Democratic Party with its Secretary General Dr Chee Soon Juan back in action unveiled six candidates that included Professor Paul Tambyah; the Reform Party introduced its full slate of eleven candidates that included Blogger Roy Ngerng, White Paper Protest organiser, Gilbert Goh, and activist-lawyer, M Ravi who will lead its Ang Mo Kio GRC team; and the SingFirst Party, four candidates alongside its leader, Mr Tan Jee Say with its tagline, ‘Restore Our Nation’.


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