Residents buying groceries at popular markets and having meals at hawker centres and coffee shops yesterday were greeted by politicians bearing leaflets and a listening ear, in anticipation that the general election would soon be called.
Labour chief Ng Chee Meng, who is tipped to helm the People’s Action Party (PAP) team in the new Sengkang GRC, posted photos of himself meeting residents in the Compassvale area.
He said he had restarted community walkabouts over the past couple of days and was glad to be out and about after Singapore entered phase two of its reopening.
“I am able to check in with residents to see how everyone is coping. I look forward to seeing more residents in the coming weeks,” said Mr Ng, who is currently an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
Meanwhile, Ms Lee Li Lian, who is likely to lead the Workers’ Party team in Sengkang GRC, said in a Facebook post that a team of volunteers had been busy distributing fliers door to door in the area since Friday. She was MP for Punggol East from 2013 to 2015, and the seat has been absorbed into Sengkang GRC.
In Nee Soon GRC, the PAP’s Mr Louis Ng stopped to chat with residents while out on an early jog at Yishun Neighbourhood Park, while Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim and Ms Lee Bee Wah went on walkabouts in their wards.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam visited two neighbourhoods with two potential candidates – Chong Pang City neighbourhood centre with Ms Carrie Tan, and Yishun Link with Mr Derrick Goh. Ms Tan, 37, is founding executive director of charity Daughters of Tomorrow, while Mr Goh, 51, is managing director and head of group audit at DBS Bank.
Asked about their presence, Mr Shanmugam said: “I’ve been seen on the ground with lots of people. Pre-circuit breaker, usually many grassroots leaders and community leaders will come round with me.”
He added: “Derrick has been serving in my branch for many years. He has often accompanied me, for some years now. Carrie has been a community organiser, she’s been doing work and has also come around. So it’s not new.”
As the minister left Chong Pang, members of the opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP), led by former PAP MP and 2011 presidential election candidate Tan Cheng Bock, turned up to meet residents. In the entourage was a supporter dressed as the party’s mascot, otter Otica.
Mr Shanmugam said he welcomed a contest from the PSP: “I met Dr Tan last year or the year before and I told him, come more often. Contest is good, gives people a choice. We’ve been on the ground, we offer a choice, voters decide.”
Dr Tan said he practised as a doctor “many, many years ago” in Chong Pang. “I think many of them (residents) could still recognise me in spite of my mask,” he said.
Dr Tan added with a laugh: “And I like Shanmugam, tell him, OK?”
PSP members were also at Shunfu Mart Food Centre in the single seat of Marymount, which has been carved out of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
Potential candidate Ang Yong Guan, 65, accompanied by several volunteers and party members, ran into members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and exchanged a fist bump with DPP secretary-general Mohamad Hamim Aliyas, 57.
Dr Ang, who contested the 2011 election under the Singapore Democratic Party and the 2015 one under Singaporeans First (SingFirst), declined to confirm if he will be fielded in the seat, saying PSP will make an announcement soon.
Mr Hamim said his party, as part of a proposed bloc with the Reform Party, People’s Power Party and SingFirst, has discussed the possibility of avoiding three-cornered contests with PSP, but they have yet to reach a conclusion.
In Marine Parade GRC, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong walked from the PAP branch to the Marine Parade Central market, where he bought some vegetables and fish and interacted with stallholders. He was with potential candidate Tan See Leng, 55, former chief executive of IHH Healthcare.
Meanwhile, Mr Shanmugam told The Straits Times that the mood at the upcoming polls will be sober.
“The international situation, both health and economy, is quite grim. We have, with the four Budgets, tried to deal with it. People are concerned with their health, they are concerned with the economy,” he said.
“The Government’s help has made sure many businesses have been able to tide over but it’s still a very hard struggle.
“And when we go to the polls, the economy and health and what is going to happen in the next five years, who is going to deal with these issues – these are going to be serious factors in people’s minds.”
• Additional reporting by Fabian Koh
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