Wednesday, 2 September 2015

GE2015 Nomination Day

No walkovers, 2.46m to vote on Sept 11
PAP, WP to hold rallies today as campaigning kicks off, with several 'hot contests' expected
By Zakir Hussain, Deputy Political Editor, The Straits Times, 2 Sep 2015

All Singaporeans eligible to vote will be able to cast their ballot in a general election for the first time in the nation's history next Friday.

Nomination Day yesterday saw 181 candidates file their papers successfully to contest all 89 seats in 16 group representation constituencies (GRCs) and 13 single-member constituencies (SMCs).

With no walkovers, it means all 2.46 million eligible voters will soon receive polling cards to let them vote on Sept 11.

"Vote for us. This is about your future. Vote seriously ... Majulah Singapura!": PM Lee Hsien Loong with his People's Action Party team for Ang Mo Kio GRC. #GE2015
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, August 31, 2015

Campaigning begins in earnest today, with the People's Action Party (PAP) and Workers' Party (WP) the first to hold rallies - the PAP in Tanjong Pagar GRC with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking, and the WP in Hougang.

Candidates from both parties and seven other opposition parties will also be fanning out across their constituencies to start wooing voters.

The PAP is the only party with candidates for all seats. Hot contests are anticipated in at least five GRCs - Aljunied, East Coast, Marine Parade, Holland-Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar.

At least five SMC contests will be closely watched - Fengshan, Punggol East, Sengkang West, Mountbatten and Potong Pasir. Three SMCs will see three-cornered fights.

The largest opposition party, the WP, is fielding 28 candidates in five GRCs and five SMCs.

The polls come soon after Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday described it as "an SG50 election" with much at stake.

Speaking at an evening press conference at the PAP headquarters in Bedok, he said voters will be choosing not only the Government for the next five years, but also the leaders to set the direction for the country in the next 50 years.

"There is a lot at stake and we have to take very seriously people's concerns, people's aspirations, their outlook in a new world, and also the way the election is going to be fought. We take this as very likely to be a hard-fought election," he said.

The PAP won 60.1 per cent of the popular vote in the 2011 General Election, where it won 81 out of 87 seats but lost two ministers after a WP team led by secretary-general Low Thia Khiang won Aljunied GRC with 54.7 per cent of the vote.

That made the WP the first opposition party to win a GRC since the team constituencies were formed in 1988 to ensure minority representation in Parliament.

In a message on the WP website yesterday, Mr Low spoke of how the 2011 Aljunied win had changed the PAP and "today, we have a more responsive government that is more sensitive to the needs and struggles of the people". He asked voters if they wanted to send a signal to the PAP that the Government should continue on this path, and if they wanted to empower themselves to shape their future.

But Mr Lee told reporters that policy changes made by the Government "didn't start in 2011" after the outcome of the 2011 polls. The Government aimed to do what was right and needed to be done, and some policies, such as those to strengthen safety nets, had been started 10 years ago at least.

He also said that although there were more opposition MPs, their performance in Parliament had been disappointing, and in contrast to the fierce campaign speeches they made at election time, they tended to keep quiet in Parliament.

"You voted for a tiger in the chamber and you got a mouse in the House," he said.

The PAP has served notice that it will go on the offensive about the WP's running of its Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.

Among other things, the PAP has questioned the competence and integrity of the WP MPs, pointing to how the town council accounts have not received a clean bill of health from their auditors. The WP has stuck to the position that the PAP charges are politically driven.

Voters can expect to hear more about this in the coming days.

Much of the battle over the next eight days is set to revolve around winning the hearts and minds of younger voters, observers say.

Said Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute fellow Norshahril Saat: "The PAP's narrative is, let's not destroy what we have built in the last 50 years, but it must be careful not to play this card too much, as young voters also want to see what lies ahead in the next 50 years."

#GE2015: Want to know who is contesting where? We've designed some cards for easy referencing.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

At the nomination centres
Three slip-ups rectified before High Noon
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 2 Sep 2015

Contests in three constituencies almost did not happen owing to slip-ups by opposition parties yesterday when filing their nomination papers.

But for two of them - Reform Party (RP) and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) - their rivals from the People's Action Party (PAP) saved the day for them.

Both had failed to indicate whether they were contesting as members of a political party or as independents, an omission that could have disqualified them from contesting the election.

The RP team had its slip-up pointed out by Mr S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

He was told about it by a fellow party member who had spotted the omission on the forms - put up on a notice board at the nomination centre in Keming Primary School . He then alerted RP secretary- general Kenneth Jeyaretnam, and the issue was resolved in the presence of the returning officer at the nomination centre.

“We want to have a fair fight”: PAP's S Iswaran on why his team pointed out inconsistencies in paperwork for their West Coast GRC opponents from the Reform Party on Nomination Day. #GE2015
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mr Iswaran, who is defending West Coast GRC, told the media later: "We wanted to point it out to them so that they have enough time to rectify it early and ensure their forms were in order."

He added: "We want to make sure that the voters of West Coast GRC have a choice. We want to have a fair fight and then let the voters choose."

The omission could have led to a technical disqualification of the team, comprising Mr Jeyaretnam, party chairman Andy Zhu, Ms Noraini Yunus and Mr Darren Soh.

Mr Zhu later said he had "missed" seeing the "delete where appropriate" clause.

He told The Straits Times: "It was a kind gesture by Mr S. Iswaran."

The PAP team defending West Coast GRC is made up of co-anchor ministers Lim Hng Kiang and Mr Iswaran, as well as Ms Foo Mee Har and Mr Patrick Tay.

Making the same mistake at the same centre was the SDP's Ms Jaslyn Go, who was told about it by her opponent Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, who is defending single-seat Yuhua.

"We didn't want to make it a big issue," Ms Fu told reporters.

"We thought a contest would be much better than to have them disqualified."

Over at the nomination centre in Bendemeer Primary School, Singaporeans First Party (SingFirst) had failed to indicate on the form which constituency it was contesting. A party member tried to amend the form on the notice board but was stopped by an election official. But after consulting other officials, he was allowed to fill in the missing information.

The SingFirst team, which is contesting Tanjong Pagar GRC, comprises party chief Tan Jee Say, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Mr Chirag Desai, Mr Melvyn Chiu and Mr Fahmi Rais.

As the issues were rectified before the noon deadline, Singapore will see contests in all 89 seats for the first time since independence.

Additional reporting by Maria Almenoar, Toh Yong Chuan and Carolyn Khew.

What's at stake - News analysis

Special or more normal?
Will voters agree PAP can keep S'pore unique or will they seek greater contestation?
By Lydia Lim, Associate Opinion Editor, The Straits Times, 2 Sep 2015

The choice before voters comes down to this: a long-serving People's Action Party (PAP) government that says it is the best chance Singapore has to stay exceptional, versus opposition parties that symbolise the desire of many for the very opposite - a more normal politics.

The Workers' Party (WP) has been the most adept at giving voice to those who want greater contestation, rallying voters in this campaign with its slogan - Empower Your Future.

In a message to voters published on the party's website yesterday, WP chief Low Thia Khiang urged voters to first send a signal to the ruling party that the Government should continue to be transparent, accountable and responsive to people's needs. Second, he called on voters to "empower yourself to participate in the decision-making process to shape your own future and the future of your children".

He also criticised "the ruling party's mindset of monopolising power to exercise control over almost every aspect of our society", saying this hindered growth to become an excellent and outstanding nation.

The PAP rejoinder came during a press conference to kick off its campaign, at which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong debunked the notion that, the more opposition in Parliament, the better. He compared the performance of the 10 opposition members in the last Parliament to that of "a mouse in the House". They made fierce speeches on all manner of issues outside the House, but remained mum when these came up for debates in Parliament, he charged.

Nine of the 10 were from the WP and one from the Singapore People's Party of Mr Chiam See Tong.

PM Lee also quoted a report from global political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, which said this election in Singapore's 50th year of independence and after the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew would determine whether the Republic remained special.

The report described Singapore as "a kind of unicorn", Mr Lee said, adding: "There's no other unicorn in the world and it works well. It has unique solutions and the rest of the world is not sure what to make with it. The question is, will Singapore remain a unicorn, remain successful, or will it become ordinary and just like everybody else?"

He then went on to set out what he saw as the politics of ordinary countries, which he likened to a game in which voters threatened the government, prompting the government to do more for them.

"If you play that kind of game, you will very soon be in the same kind of jam as other countries which do this. We have not had that formula. Our formula has been: Work together, build the trust. The Government does the right things for voters to the best of our ability.

"Sometimes, we make mistakes; sometimes, it falls short of what the voters expect because it's harder to do than we imagined. But, overall, there is that basic trust that I'm doing this on your behalf, otherwise, I wouldn't be doing this. There's no money in this," he said.

One grave national challenge where such trust will be crucial is that of population growth, against the backdrop of a rapidly ageing society.

On at least three occasions in the last two months, Mr Lee has highlighted the population issue as one in which there are no easy answers.

During his National Day Rally speech last month, he assured Singaporeans that his government has heard their strong views on immigration and foreigners and adjusted its policies, with upgrades to public infrastructure, slower foreign worker inflows and tightening of permanent resident and citizenship applications. But it cannot close the doors completely to foreigners or the economy will tank, he warned.

"Whichever option we choose, it will involve some pain," he said.

"But I believe that I am doing what Singapore needs and what best safeguards your interest... It is my responsibility to make this decision and act on your behalf," he added.

Why the special effort to soften the ground on this issue?

One factor must surely be that during the last General Election of 2011, his team of ministers tripped up by failing to anticipate and mitigate against the cost to Singaporeans of large foreign worker inflows. That provided the opposition parties with ready ammunition to attack the PAP.

This time round, several opposition parties have already made plain that they plan to reprise their attacks on the issue as the battle for votes heats up.

The population issue is but one example of the difficult challenges the PAP government hopes voters will continue to trust its judgment on. That is its model of governance, which it considers essential to keeping Singapore a unicorn.

This election will be a test of whether voters agree.

Ultimately, their choice will rest on who they trust more to champion their interests.

Will it be the PAP with its outstanding track record of having led Singapore from Third World to First, but whose big-picture, long-term approach to policy planning has delivered results, though not without some pain to those affected?

Or will it be the opposition parties that promise to prod the PAP into being more responsive?

Whether PAP or opposition, the politicians who have put themselves forward for this campaign have nine days to swing voters round to their view.

Party leaders' posters permitted, even if not contesting in the constituency
TODAY, 3 Sep 2015

Putting up campaign posters bearing the faces of political party leaders in a constituency they are not contesting in is permitted.

Is it illegal to put up posters of political party leaders if they are not contesting in that constituency? #GE2015
Posted by on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A post published on the Factually page of government portal today said that posters bearing a political party’s leader is allowed as voters would be able to identify the political party leader with that political party. It noted that this has been the practice in past elections as well.

This follows from a post by Mrs Lina Chiam on her Facebook page in which she posted a picture of a PAP poster bearing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s image above her own campaign poster with the caption: “Is the Prime Minister standing in Potong Pasir SMC?”

Want to put up election posters or banners? You'll need authorisation from the Returning Officer! #GE2015
Posted by on Saturday, September 5, 2015

In response to media queries about defaced election posters, the Police confirm that three male subjects, aged between...
Posted by Singapore Police Force on Saturday, September 5, 2015

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