FOR the first time since independence, all seats are contested at the General Election. Nine parties are set to vie for 89 seats in 13 single-member constituencies and 16 group representation constituencies.
The People's Action Party (PAP) is contesting 89 seats, while the Workers' Party (WP) is vying for 28. The National Solidarity Party (NSP) is looking at 12 seats, the third most for a political party in this year's election.
In the last General Election in 2011, 82 of 87 seats in Parliament were contested. The only walkover was the five-member Tanjong Pagar GRC helmed by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March this year.
In the 2011 election, the PAP's vote share hit a record low of 60.1 per cent. It also lost five seats from the five-member Aljunied GRC. It later lost the Punggol East single ward in a by-election in 2013. All were won by WP.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is PAP's secretary-general, has described the coming election as a crucial one that will set the direction for Singapore over the next 50 years.
Addressing supporters yesterday at Raffles Institution, the nomination centre for Ang Mo Kio GRC which he is standing in, PM Lee said: "Vote seriously for the PAP to make sure that we can work together with you, for you, for Singapore. Shout with me: Majulah Singapore! Majulah PAP! Majulah PAP! Majulah Singapura!"
Meanwhile, WP chief Low Thia Khiang told reporters that his party hopes that this election will make Singaporeans more aware of their future and "what they should decide for themselves".
Nominations closed with no big surprises to the party line-ups for the Sept 11 General Election.
Last-minute changes, which some thought might happen in Aljunied GRC, did not happen.
As announced earlier, there was no change to WP's incumbent "A" team for Aljunied GRC, led by Mr Low. It also includes party chairman Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao, Pritam Singh and Faisal Manap.
They will be challenged by a PAP team comprising veteran labour MP Yeo Guat Kwang, grassroots leader Victor Lye, lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai, private banker Chua Eng Leong and former teacher Shamsul Kamar.
The only surprise was in MacPherson SMC, which will see a three-cornered fight after former Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) MP Cheo Chai Chen decided to contest the ward under the NSP banner.
He will stand against PAP incumbent Tin Pei Ling, a full-time MP, and WP's Bernard Chen, a funeral services company executive.
Two other SMCs will also see three-cornered fights.
At Radin Mas SMC, PAP incumbent Sam Tan will be challenged by the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo and blogger Han Hui Hui, who is running as an independent.
At Bukit Batok SMC, the candidates are the PAP's David Ong, SDP's Sadasivam Veriyah and independent Samir Salim Neji, a businessman.
At the 2011 polls, there was only one three-cornered fight - in Punggol East between the PAP's Michael Palmer, the WP's Lee Li Lian and Desmond Lim of the Singapore Democratic Alliance.
On the MacPherson three-cornered fight, WP's Mr Low said it will not change the party's strategy. "We'll do our best and let the people decide," he said.
"We have put in a lot of effort to try to avoid three-cornered fights but, at the end of the day, if this is a fact, this is a fact. We have to contest."
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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