E-mail and letters fly in race to get message out

E-mail and letters fly in race to get message out
PHOTO: The Straits Times

As the clock ticked past midnight and Singapore entered the last day of the election campaign yesterday, candidates raced against time to get their message across to voters.

They had just 24 hours, as the law bars all forms of campaigning on Cooling-off Day today and Polling Day tomorrow.

Just before 2am yesterday, an e-mail from People's Action Party chief and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong went out to all on the PAP's mailing list, well in time for the office crowd to read on their way to work.

He reiterated his message that the PAP has a clear vision and concrete plans for Singapore, saying: "We built a safe and secure environment so that we can raise our children and grandchildren - on this island that belongs to all of us."

He highlighted what the ruling party had done for the sandwiched generation, low-income and disadvantaged families, and how it had created a strong economy, good jobs and new opportunities.

He called opposition parties irresponsible for telling voters to vote for them with the promise that they would bargain for more from the Government.

He warned of the costs behind some of the seemingly attractive opposition ideas, saying: "There is nothing easier than writing a cheque to fund giveaways, cheques which you and I will not have to pay. But your children and mine will end up carrying the load."

The PAP preferred public consultations, debating hard choices openly and supporting the growth of civic voices in business and social causes, and environmental issues.

Ending what is likely the party's final official mailer to voters, he said: "How will you decide? Hard work against empty rhetoric, a vision against a cheap bargain, a strong, united Singapore or a weak, fragmented one? The choice is clear."

At noon, the Workers' Party, which is fielding 28 candidates, released a four-minute video thanking supporters and highlighting memorable moments and photographs from its campaign.

It features East Coast GRC team leader Gerald Giam's call for public transport to be nationalised and Marine Parade GRC candidate He Ting Ru's dream of a future with more citizens involved in decision-making.

Chairman Sylvia Lim appears in the video to say that in the WP, "you need courage, perseverance, thick skin - a stout heart", and party chief Low Thia Khiang says: "Just because we don't believe in the Government's policies does not mean we don't love our country."

Over in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, where the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) hopes to unseat the PAP team, 45,000 households received a two-page letter from the PAP.

Titled The Hard Truths About SDP's Policies, it is signed off by the four-member team led by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan.

It tackled the SDP's proposals, saying, for example, that the idea to raise personal income and corporate taxes was unrealistic and would drive away multinational corporations and large companies. The suggestion to slash the defence budget by 40 per cent would threaten Singapore's existence and ignored geopolitical risks.

The PAP team said that the SDP was also "ignorant of local needs and concerns" and had presented no town and community plans for the GRC.

Elsewhere, teams and candidates who did not hold a rally last night organised press conferences instead. In Tanjong Pagar GRC, labour chief Chan Chun Sing said his PAP team members had bonded with one another, party activists and residents over the past nine days.

In Nee Soon GRC, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said populist policies like the WP's call for zero growth in the number of foreign workers were "the very antithesis of what made Singapore successful".

Marine Parade GRC team leader Tan Chuan-Jin, who is Social and Family Development Minister, met reporters with his team, while his teammate, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, also visited WP-held Aljunied GRC.

Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan was at the Bedok Central bus interchange in East Coast GRC, where his PAP team is facing what is expected to be a close fight with the WP.

He told Shin Min Daily News: "We are not focusing on whether we win or lose. We are quietly confident. It is up to the voters to decide. We have been doing our best for the residents."


Additional reporting by Yeo Sam Jo, Jermyn Chow and Amelia Teng

This article was first published on September 10, 2015.
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