A break for candidates, voters before voting begins

Parties make final pitch in TV broadcast; Singaporeans abroad the first to cast votes

Voters took a breather from the hustings yesterday, Cooling-off Day, to reflect on the election campaign, ahead of a decision they will make today on which political party they want to represent their interests.

But political parties were allowed to make one final pitch to the voters in a broadcast that was aired on television last night.

Most stuck with the main message they had been delivering over nine days at their rallies and through e-mails and social media.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the People's Action Party (PAP), which is contesting all 89 seats, has delivered on its promises and placed Singaporeans at the heart of all it does.

Mr Lee, who is also the PAP's secretary-general, acknowledged that politics is changing and Singaporeans' views have become more diverse. "The PAP welcomes full debates on national issues in Parliament, but this depends on the quality of the MPs rather than their numbers," he said.

The Workers' Party, which is contesting 28 seats, focused on the need for a new type of political system, marked by a stronger opposition in Parliament.

"Parliament must play the crucial role of checking and pushing a powerful executive to make well-balanced policies and laws that protect and advance the people's interests," said its chairman Sylvia Lim.

Candidates are not allowed to campaign or advertise on Cooling-off Day. The Elections Department (ELD) said a few election advertising postings were made on Twitter and Facebook by candidates from parties such as the People's Action Party, People's Power Party and Reform Party.

The candidates and parties, when informed, had removed the postings, the ELD said.

For many candidates, however, the break from thecampaign gave them a chance to catch up with friends and family.

The PAP team contesting Aljunied GRC had a barbecue at the National Service Resort and Country Club, while the Singapore Democratic Party's candidates had a picnic at the Botanic Gardens.

MacPherson PAP candidate Tin Pei Ling spent some mummy time with her one-month-old son.

Meanwhile, civil servants put the finishing touches to the 832 polling stations across Singapore.

Singaporeans abroad, however, began voting at polling centres in overseas missions in Dubai, London and the United States.

Yesterday, an ELD spokesman, responding to media queries about the high level of haze, advised voters to refer to the advisory issued by the National Environment Agency should haze levels remain in the unhealthy range.

The polling stations islandwide open from 8am to 8pm today.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'A break for candidates, voters before voting begins'. Print Edition | Subscribe