Friday, 4 September 2015

GE2015: Independent candidates

Bukit Batok can be a start-up village: Samir Salim Neji
By Lester Hio, The Straits Times, 3 Sep 2015

While other candidates in this year's general election have hit the ground running, the independent candidate for Bukit Batok says his walkabouts and campaigning will begin in earnest tomorrow.

Mr Samir Salim Neji, 45, was a surprise candidate when he showed up at the Keming Primary School Nomination Centre on Tuesday, turning what was till then a straightforward showdown between the People's Action Party's (PAP's) David Ong and the Singapore Democratic Party's Sadasivam Veriyah into a three-cornered fight.

In an interview with The Straits Times at his home in Keppel Bay Drive yesterday, Mr Samir said his campaign will include a strong focus on social media.

Meanwhile, the managing director of software firm Anaplan Asia has been hard at work at his company, although he did make it to Bukit Batok last night for about an hour to have a chat with some residents.

"My major walkabouts will start on Friday evening, over the weekend and next week," said Mr Samir.

Born in Kerala, India, Mr Samir obtained a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Kerala in 1993 and a master's degree in business administration in 1996.

He first set foot in Singapore in 1997, when he came to study for his professional finance certification. He worked at various tech companies such as Vishay Intertechnology and Atos Origin in Singapore before striking out to form his own start-ups.

Mr Samir said he stands for less stress and more happiness, and that he hopes to better allocate finances to start-ups in Singapore in order to re-energise the nation.

He also explained his choice of Bukit Batok: "I was looking at a single-member constituency, as I can't go into a group representation constituency. I chose Bukit Batok because I've been going there for a long time as I have lots of friends living there."

One of his visions for Bukit Batok is to transform it into a start-up village where there will be co-working spaces within the estate. "Maybe we can bring in global start-up guys to Singapore. I will also give money to Singaporean graduates from local universities for them to work on their ideas," said Mr Samir.

His campaign hit a hurdle from the start when he did not have enough assenters on Tuesday for his nomination forms.

However, he was able to find enough residents to make up the numbers in the end, he said. He denied that they were PAP members.

Since his nomination, there has been a ruckus online about him not being born in Singapore and his lack of political experience.

However, Mr Samir, who has been a Singapore citizen since 2004, shook off these claims. He said: "I'm not concerned. I'll be very happy to meet those guys and hear their point of view, I welcome that.

"If they feel what I'm doing is wrong, they should come forward."

It was his wife, Ms Sabeena Ahamed, 39, who collected the nomination forms for him last week. They have two daughters, aged 11 and 13.

Even though he is a new face in Bukit Batok, Mr Samir is confident of getting enough votes so that he would not lose the $14,500 deposit.

"It's 12.5 per cent, it's an easy target," he said.

Independent Han Hui Hui: I don't mind losing my deposit
Draws curious spectators at maiden rally
By Foo Jie Ying and Elizabeth Law, The New Paper, 4 Sep 2015

Warehouse assistant Irvin Tan, 45, travelled from the eastern part of the island to the Delta Hockey Pitch at Tiong Bahru Road, just to listen to Ms Han Hui Hui speak at her maiden rally.

"(I came here) to give the independent candidate some support even though I don't live in Radin Mas... as it's been quite a while since we had some independent candidates," he said.

Undergraduate Justin Kor, 23, also admitted there was a "novelty factor", saying: "We don't expect much from independent candidates but I came down because I want to see what she has to say."

This curiosity factor was apparent last night among the mixed bag of hundreds of spectators, some of whom told The New Paper they know of her only from her Central Provident Fund-related protests.

A group of three men even showed up with posters of the wrestler Triple H - a pun on her initials.

There were also a few hecklers in the crowd as the youngest candidate in GE 2015 spoke about various issues including CPF, housing and the lack of opposition voices in Parliament.

Ms Han, a blogger who just turned 24, had piqued interest when she collected the election paperwork at the Elections Department after the writ was announced.

She refused to speak to the media but later announced her intention to run as an independent in Radin Mas single member constituency.

She faces a three-cornered fight against Minister of State Sam Tan, 56, and the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, 46.

Ms Han made headlines last year after she and fellow blogger Roy Ngerng were among six people charged with public nuisance. They allegedly disrupted a charity event for special needs children at Hong Lim Park with the Return Our CPF rally co-organised by them on Sept 27 last year.

Last night, she switched between English, Mandarin and Hokkien in a speech that touched on affordable housing, affordable healthcare and her pet topic, the CPF.

Ms Han, who said she is seeing someone, added that she would like to become a mother after the election but childbirth would be too expensive because a woman her size would need to have a caesarean-section delivery, and that could not be paid for with Medisave.

Political watcher Mustafa Izzuddin said that having a relative unknown will work against the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo.

"On one hand, you've got the Reform Party, which has fought an election before. So people know the party but not the candidate well. On the other hand, you've got an independent who doesn't have a party, but people might know about her," the research fellow at Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute said.

When the rally ended after about 1½ hours, Ms Han called an impromptu press conference over dinner at a hawker centre about 2.5km away.While refusing to elaborate on the source of her campaign funds, she said that she was "supported by Singaporeans".

Asked about her chances, she said she did not mind losing her electorial deposit as she wanted to "raise issues" for the residents of Radin Mas.

"I don't think losing the deposit is an important issue at all. But I want the residents of Radin Mas to have their issues raised in Parliament," she said.

Additional reporting by Hariz 

For Immediate ReleaseReform Party refutes the false assertions made yesterday evening by Socialist Front sponsored...
Posted by The Reform Party on Thursday, September 3, 2015

“A blatant attempt at character assassination”: The Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam on independent candidate Han...
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 4, 2015

Opposition candidates take jabs at one another
By Olivia Ho and Kok Xing Hui, The Straits Times, 5 Sep 2015

Members of the opposition took potshots at each other yesterday, as a National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate lambasted the Workers' Party (WP) while the Reform Party (RP) chief lashed out at independent Han Hui Hui.

NSP candidate Cheo Chai Chen called the WP "arrogant" for refusing to cede the MacPherson single-member constituency, resulting in a three-cornered fight.

The 64-year-old must contend with WP new face Bernard Chen, 29, and People's Action Party's (PAP's) Tin Pei Ling, 31, who was Marine Parade GRC MP and is being fielded in MacPherson.

In fliers that he distributed yesterday, Mr Cheo also hammered WP about the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council issue.

He wrote: "Many of us have heard the ruling party highlight the shortcomings of an opposition party that defaulted its town council accounting policies. We are very concerned about this matter.

"If I am mandated by you, we will manage the town council on our own. We will not let the incident of 'TC general manager is also the boss of its contractor' happen."

Speaking during a Pipit Road hawker centre walkabout yesterday, Mr Cheo said NSP's decision to contest MacPherson was not a last-minute one. "Originally Steve Chia was going to contest, then he withdrew and the party fielded me," he said.

The NSP had staked its claim to MacPherson when the ward was split from Marine Parade GRC this election. After initially agreeing to cede it to the WP, it later reversed its decision and was about to field Mr Chia when he pulled out of the race altogether, citing online abuse.

Mr Cheo, an MP for Nee Soon Central from 1991 to 1997, called WP's Mr Chen "young and inexperienced." He said: "This estate has a lot of elderly folks and I feel I can engage with them better."

On the RP side, party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam said Ms Han, 24, who is contesting Radin Mas SMC, has a "creative approach to truth", which was why he did not field her under the RP banner.

He issued a statement on the party's Facebook page yesterday refuting Ms Han's Thursday night rally claim that the RP's candidate for Radin Mas SMC, Mr Kumar Appavoo, lacked assenters on Nomination Day.

Ms Han said that if she had not stood for election, PAP candidate Sam Tan would have had a walkover in Radin Mas SMC.

Mr Jeyaretnam said her statement was "wholly fabricated from start to finish" and Mr Kumar's paperwork was in order.

He also called her a "Socialist Front-sponsored candidate" who tried to cast doubts on RP.

Socialist Front chairman Ng Teck Siong, a former RP chairman, spoke at Ms Han's rally and said she would join his party if elected.

Ms Han, a blogger, is known for organising "Return Our CPF" protests at Hong Lim Park. Three other activists who are also regulars at the Speakers' Corner - lawyer M. Ravi, blogger Roy Ngerng and career counsellor Gilbert Goh - are RP candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Mr Jeyaretnam said the RP believes Ms Han to be brave and he has been supportive of her.

"However, while her bravery, her age and how much she weighs and her need for funds are not in doubt, it was her creative approach to the truth that was a prominent factor in our decision not to field her," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment