Party big guns draw battle lines for coming polls

Party big guns draw battle lines for coming polls
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A day after the General Election (GE) was set for Sept 11, major politicians anchoring what are expected to be the closest contests began drawing battle lines.

The People's Action Party (PAP) started introducing its slates in constituencies likely to face the strongest challenges, while the Workers' Party (WP) finally shifted its campaign into high gear by unveiling its election slogan and first batch of political hopefuls.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, contesting his 10th GE in Marine Parade GRC, asked voters for a "strong mandate" for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his team and the policy direction they have charted in recent years.

He likened opposition parties taking credit for the Government's shift to the left in social policies to the fable of the "rooster boasting that its crowing caused the sun to rise". He also labelled opposition candidates who went from ward to ward "nomads" seeking not to serve but plunder, should they win.

The WP, which will contest Marine Parade GRC, has a "certain arrogance in them", he said, charging that the party runs roughshod over other opposition parties. "Would that same arrogance be able to replace me and my team in Marine Parade? Let them try."

The WP, mounting its widest challenge on the ruling party in years with plans to contest 28 parliamentary seats, unveiled its follow-up slogan to 2011's tagline "Towards a First World Parliament".

It will contest GE2015 with the slogan "Empower Your Future".

WP chief Low Thia Khiang told reporters yesterday that following its 2011 breakthrough by winning in Aljunied GRC, its 2015 message to voters was one of consolidation and entrenchment.

Ensuring a sustained and sizeable opposition bloc in Parliament, he argued, is the only way Singaporeans could become part of the nation's decision-making process, empower themselves and not be "forever weak" in the face of a dominant government.

To Mr Goh's charge that the WP is arrogant, Mr Low noted that the former prime minister had long argued that the PAP could check itself and remain uncorrupt.

"You don't need opposition to check on Government, you need PAP to check the PAP," he said, characterising Mr Goh's argument. "Is that not arrogance?"

In Nee Soon GRC, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, whose residents will also be wooed by the WP, urged voters not to let their town council surplus be used to subsidise the deficit in WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.

Among the opposition candidates introduced yesterday were two academics. National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Daniel Goh will contest on the WP ticket, while NUS medical professor Paul Tambyah will stand as a Singapore Democratic Party candidate.

At the Elections Department in Prinsep Street, a stream of hopefuls arrived to collect papers ahead of Nomination Day on Sept 1. Seven individuals, including a blogger, a realtor and an Uber driver, said they want to contest as independents.

This article was first published on August 27, 2015.
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