Campaign trail

All out to woo Mountbatten voters

Left: PAP candidate Lim Biow Chuan meeting residents in Jalan Batu. Right: SPP candidate Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss handing out fliers outside Mountbatten MRT station with campaign volunteers. Both candidates have been working hard in the constituency
PAP candidate Lim Biow Chuan meeting residents in Jalan Batu.ST PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM, OLIVIA HO
Left: PAP candidate Lim Biow Chuan meeting residents in Jalan Batu. Right: SPP candidate Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss handing out fliers outside Mountbatten MRT station with campaign volunteers. Both candidates have been working hard in the constituency
SPP candidate Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss handing out fliers outside Mountbatten MRT station with campaign volunteers. Both candidates have been working hard in the constituency since the 2011 elections.ST PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM, OLIVIA HO

On Day Two of the campaign, People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for Mountbatten SMC Lim Biow Chuan, 52, sets off from Dakota MRT station. One stop away, his challenger, Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, also 52, of the Singapore People's Party (SPP) starts her walkabout at Mountbatten station.

Both candidates are trying to reach out to as many residents as they can over the next seven days, and win the hearts and minds of 24,096 voters. In the 2011 elections, Mr Lim won 58.6 per cent of the vote against Mrs Chong-Aruldoss, who was then with the National Solidarity Party.

But she has been returning to the constituency to meet residents since that defeat, and residents said Mr Lim has been working hard too.

"The election period is only nine days, so what is critical is to reach out to as many residents as we can, to tell them that, look, your vote is important to us. We do know what Jeannette is doing, but I suppose that's her strategy," Mr Lim told The Straits Times on a walkabout to several homes in the ward.

His strategy, he said, is to try to "connect to every resident" in the "traditional way" - door to door.

The two-term MP got a warm welcome at many homes, and several maids attending to the elderly, who make up a large proportion of residents in the area, recognised him.

But he conceded that about one in 10 residents did not give him a good reception. "Yesterday, a man slammed the door in my volunteer's face... That's how it is... but I hope Singaporeans will be more gracious."

A handful of residents on his house visits did not come out to greet him, asking instead for fliers to be slotted through the gates.

But several residents who opened their doors to him said he has been on the ground and acts on their concerns. Said pre-school teacher Philomena Tee, 59: "He listens when we speak. I told him about the dustbin that smells, he acted on it immediately. We complained about bus 196 that is always packed, and he went to the bus stop to monitor it."

Mr Deepak Singapuri, 56, welcomed him with a candid "You have my vote". The diamond merchant added: "One needs to leave Singapore to see what it is like in other countries, then you will know what the Government has done."

But residents like part-time cleaner Auyong Pan Seng, 74, felt little had been done for the elderly. "Some change is good," he said of Mrs Chong-Aruldoss on her walkabout.

Accountant Alison Gao, 30, said she seems friendly and outgoing, but added: "We are more familiar with Mr Lim as we see him more often."

Mrs Chong-Aruldoss was accompanied by her husband James Aruldoss and several volunteers as she handed out fliers to residents on their way to work, although several sprinted right past them in a rush.

She said she had difficulty doing house visits in condominiums in the ward's upper-middle-class areas, saying several developments she wrote to have refused to let her visit and she has yet to hear from others.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline 'All out to woo Mountbatten voters'. Print Edition | Subscribe