SINGAPORE - And so the second night of rallies came and went, with a total of six rallies and more than 60 speakers from five parties taking to the stage in all shapes, sizes and party colours.
Recap: the People's Action Party (PAP) had two rallies, at Bedok Stadium and Compassvale, Workers' Party (WP) was at Boon Keng Road, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, SingFirst at Jurong Stadium, and independent candidate Han Hui Hui at Delta Hockey Pitch.
Here are 5 things that stood out for us as we followed the rallies both on the ground and via live streams on www.straitstimes.com on Thursday (Sept 3).
1. SO WHO WENT?
First things first - crowd turnout.
The biggest crowd was, again, at the Workers' Party rally in Boon Keng Road, although it was smaller than its first one in Hougang on Wednesday. They came prepared with mats and umbrellas and also all manner of hammers, including giant ones and neon-lit ones.
Those who thought Ms Han would not be able to muster a decent crowd had to eat their words. About a thousand made their way to Delta Hockey Pitch. Some, though, weren't there to show their support. She was heckled as she wrapped up her rally.
The SDP rally at Choa Chu Kang Stadium attracted a few thousand who reserved their loudest cheers for Dr Chee Soon Juan, the secretary-general of the party who was making his first rally appearance in over a decade. He is standing in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.
2. AT THE ROSTRUM
The PAP's Lee Yi Shyan chose an unusual way of opening his rally speech in Bedok Stadium - with a song.
The Senior Minister of State, who is part of the East Coast GRC team, sang Sparrow With A Bamboo Twig, a popular number by local xinyao pioneer Liang Wern Fook. The song talks about the transformation of Singapore - an apt way to illustrate his point about how much Singapore has progressed under the PAP. And his singing? Not bad at all.
Meanwhile, his GRC colleague Jessica Tan revealed a softer side when she choked up while recounting the story of a young resident who overcame all odds to get into a polytechnic and graduated with flying colours.
Over at Compassvale, the PAP's Ng Chee Meng made his first rally appearance. The former Chief of Defence Force spoke in Malay, Mandarin and English. He said that since retiring as defence chief, he had been meeting residents and hearing their concerns. His plans to improve the living environment of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC was met with cheers.
At the WP rally, Aljunied GRC candidate Pritam Singh got cheers for his speeches in both Malay and Mandarin. His speech in Mandarin was more than three minutes long and touched on racial and religious harmony.
New WP candidate for Marine Parade GRC He Ting Ru seemed a little nervous at first, but became more confident as she spoke. She spoke about how Singapore had changed on her return after a decade studying and working overseas, and what spurred her to enter politics.
3. RETURN OF DR CHEE
Dr Chee was the clear star at the SDP rally. It was his first rally speech in 15 years, and he pulled out all the stops, starting with Mandarin before speaking in Hokkien, venturing a couple of lines in Teochew, a joke in Cantonese, and a respectable chunk in Malay, then a greeting in Tamil before speaking in English.
He peppered his speeches with self-deprecating anecdotes, joking that he only polished up his Mandarin because he was pursuing a pretty Taiwanese girl when he was studying in the United States. He emphasised the party line that SDP wanted to be a credible alternative in Parliament, and that they want voters to vote for the SDP rather than against the PAP.
4. WHAT WAS SAID?
The issues ran the gamut of how far Singapore has come and why it is special, to bread-and-butter concerns.
At Compassvale, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said; "I still remember, (in 1965) we preferred to keep the ringgit. Today the Singdollar is worth 3 ringgit."
The PAP's Lee Yi Shyan also paid tribute to the Pioneer Generation for their hard work and sacrifice.
The cost of living was close to the heart of the opposition speakers, especially the SDP. Almost to a man, they promised to do something about it if they were elected. Dr Chee also blamed rising costs and depressed wages on PAP policies and said that the SDP had warned of the negative effects of PAP policies 20 years ago.
Independent candidate Han voiced unhappiness with policies concerning CPF, healthcare and housing prices.
The WP spent far less time defending the financial procedures at Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) and more time on the offensive at their second rally. A common theme was how the PAP did not start listening to Singaporeans until more members of the WP were voted into Parliament in the 2011 general election.
5. QUOTABLE QUOTES
"Every problem is a solution... but unfortunately every new solution will lead to a new problem."
- Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say (East Coast GRC) explaining the trade-offs when it comes to labour policy.
"(You) are already very lucky, but now you are luckier because you have Ng Chee Meng and Sun Xueling. Both are my brothers. Sorry, Xueling is my sister."
- Minister of State Teo Ser Luck, part of the PAP's Pasir Ris-Punggol team on his running mates
"Since we are in Jalan Besar GRC, let's talk about football. In the early days of Singapore's nationhood, the Singapore football team was a force to be reckoned with on the international stage... In 1977, Singapore beat Penang 3-2 to become Malaysia Cup champions. I am so proud that the man who headed in the winning goal is here with us tonight, as my personal driver."
- WP chairman Sylvia Lim, referring to her boyfriend Quah Kim Song
"You are the modern Hua Mulan."
- A fan of independent candidate Han Hui Hui
"Malay women wearing tudung is as common as flowering jasmine on a beautiful spring day."
- Mr Damanhuri Abas, SDP's candidate for Marsiling-Yew Tee
"Only people without a fighting spirit are called mice. How can you call seven opposition MPs, facing 80 PAP MPs, mice? They are lions."
- Dr Ang Yong Guan, SingFirst's candidate for Tanjong Pagar GRC, in response to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's assessment that opposition MPs were voted in to be a tiger in Parliament but ended up being a "mouse in the House".