GE2015: 7 memorable speeches from the election campaign

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a People's Action Party (PAP) lunchtime rally held at the Promenade area beside UOB Plaza on September 8, 2015.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a People's Action Party (PAP) lunchtime rally held at the Promenade area beside UOB Plaza on September 8, 2015. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the PAP rally for Bukit Panjang GRC at field in front of Block 136, Petir Road on September 5, 2015.
DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the PAP rally for Bukit Panjang GRC at field in front of Block 136, Petir Road on September 5, 2015. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Dr Chee Soon Juan speaks at the SDP election rally at Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
Dr Chee Soon Juan speaks at the SDP election rally at Choa Chu Kang Stadium.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Mr Ong Ye Kung, People's Action Party's (PAP) candidate for Sembawang GRC, speaking at PAP rally at the field opposite Block 540 Woodlands Drive 16 on September 7, 2015.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, People's Action Party's (PAP) candidate for Sembawang GRC, speaking at PAP rally at the field opposite Block 540 Woodlands Drive 16 on September 7, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Workers’ Party (WP) Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang speaking at a rally in front of Block 837 in Hougang Central on September 2, 2015.
Workers’ Party (WP) Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang speaking at a rally in front of Block 837 in Hougang Central on September 2, 2015. ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN
Workers' Party (WP) candidates for East Coast GRC (from left in blue) Gerald Giam, Daniel Goh, Mohamed Fairoz and Leon Perera greeting a resident during a walkabout in Simei on September 8, 2015.
Workers' Party (WP) candidates for East Coast GRC (from left in blue) Gerald Giam, Daniel Goh, Mohamed Fairoz and Leon Perera greeting a resident during a walkabout in Simei on September 8, 2015.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN
National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate Kevryn Lim became tearful while speaking on single mother issues at the party’s Circuit Road rally on September 7, 2015.
National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate Kevryn Lim became tearful while speaking on single mother issues at the party’s Circuit Road rally on September 7, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - As political candidates took to the stage to sway voters to their side, some orators left a deeper impression than others.

Here are seven memorable speeches from the hustings so far.

1. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Where: People's Action Party lunchtime rally in the CBD

When: Tuesday, Sept 8

Why memorable: PM Lee came across as both national leader and statesman in his hour-long speech, as he exhorted voters to back the right party so the country would continue to succeed for the next 50 years.

He spoke about the importance of leadership renewal, cited examples of his government's successes, touched on external threats such as terrorism, and promised to work with Singaporeans to build a better country.

He also went on the offensive against opposition parties, and turned their argument on its head. Saying it was "perverse" to vote for the opposition to make the PAP work harder, he called on voters to vote for his party and make the opposition work harder.

Quote: "Opposition - not working hard enough. They make a mess of things, they are not active enough in Parliament, they are really talking not much sense. Vote PAP, make the opposition work harder."

2. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Where: PAP rally at Petir Road for Bukit Panjang SMC

When: Saturday, Sept 5

Why memorable: It was a "lite" version of his Budget speech: packed with just enough data for the layman to process, delivered in simple language and backed up with real-life examples, and spiced up with just the right amount of firepower against the opposition.

He debunked two myths: First, nothing is free, and the middle-income will end up footing the bill for proposals put forth by the opposition, such as hiking social spending. To frame it in concrete terms, he cited examples of countries with seemingly egalitarian systems, like France, and gave a breakdown of how much middle-income French workers pay in terms of taxes compared to their Singaporean counterparts.

Second, it is a complete myth to think that the Government can draw on investment income in the country's reserves, instead of raising taxes, to fund social spending. "We are already maxing out on the investment income from our reserves... It's fully used, there's no more money left there that you can just take without compromising the next generation," he said.

Instead of outright slamming the opposition, he poked holes in their campaign promises, leaving the audience with questions to sleep on that night.

One of his harshest remarks at the rally: "So when I listened to some of the scaremongering that is going on, not only do they avoid talking about the taxes that they will have to raise if their proposals were to be put into practice, but they also scaremonger, talking about what the PAP will do after the elections," he said. "That is just cheap."

Comments that packed a punch, even when delivered in his usual cool, measured tone.

Quote: "When you take with the left hand and give with the right hand, are you doing it in a fair way?"

3. Singapore Democratic Party secretary-general Chee Soon Juan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEBauhKwylw

Where: SDP rally at Chua Chu Kang Stadium for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC

When: Thursday, Sept 3

Why memorable: Dr Chee, who is contesting for the first time in 15 years, was on a charm offensive: his almost hour-long speech went from Mandarin to several dialects, a smattering of Tamil and Malay before ending in English. He went through seven languages in all.

He was self-deprecating, kicking off his speech with an anecdote about how his Mandarin was terrible but he learnt how to speak it better when he was studying overseas and met a pretty Taiwanese student whom he wanted to pursue. And he called his Hokkien "half-past six". He managed quite a decent chunk of speech in Malay, adding that his parents are Peranakan.

He made sure to spend some time criticising the policies of the PAP, specifically two policies which he blamed for making Singaporeans' lives more stressful: the banking policy which drew the super rich to Singapore and drove up prices, and the immigration policy which opened the floodgates to cheap foreign labour, depressing wages for Singaporean workers.

Quote: "The human spirit can only be suppressed. Never crushed."

4. Sembawang GRC candidate Ong Ye Kung

Where: PAP rally at Woodlands Drive 16 for Sembawang GRC

When: Monday, Sept 7

Why memorable: Mr Ong, who was part of the PAP team that lost Aljunied GRC to the Workers' Party at the 2011 General Election, delivered a stirring speech that highlighted unity and consensus. He said he felt that Singaporeans did not "come back together" after the 2011 polls, unlike previous elections. But founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's death earlier this year brought the nation back together, he said.

Mr Ong also said that as a voter, what he wanted to see was a strong defence force, a genuine diversity of opinions in national policy making, and a capable and stable government that runs the country well, among other things.

He concluded by telling voters that they will be shaping the destiny of the PAP and Singapore's government at the Sept 11 polls.

Quote: "In this general election, you have the power to write the last chapter of the PAP government, or the first chapter of a new PAP."

5. Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang

Where: WP rally at Hougang Central for Hougang SMC

When: Wednesday, Sept 2

Why memorable: Mr Low's opening volley was what one expected from the campaign veteran. Speaking in Teochew on his home ground, Mr Low came out with all guns blazing.

He addressed the AHPETC controversy in detail, saying that GE2011 was a victory for Singaporean voters but the PAP has tried to tar the WP's accomplishment by harping on AHPETC.

He went on to say the issues raised by the first audit has already been fixed by the AHPETC. He said that the government has been digging for 10 months and found nothing: "If we really did anything wrong, we would have gone to jail long time ago."

The YouTube video of his speech has chalked up nearly 185,000 views, more than double that of its nearest competitor - colleague Chen Show Mao's speech on the same day (almost 82,000 views).

Quote: "Wa si loon ee jin koo ah." (I've tolerated them for very long already)

6. East Coast GRC candidate Leon Perera

Where: WP rally at Simei Road for East Coast GRC

When: Sunday, Sept 6

Why memorable: Compared to the WP big guns' brand of fiery rhetoric, Mr Perera has been coolness personified - he previously told The Straits Times that he had a "soft voice", which he inherited from his father.

But that has worked to the Oxford graduate's advantage. His unassuming and intelligent demeanour came to the fore at the party's Simei Road rally during which he spoke for 15 minutes and appealed to the PAP to stop patting itself on the back for past achievements and admit when it had made mistakes along the way.

Criticising the PAP's manifesto and entire election campaign for being "backward-looking" and lacking "specific programmes", he went on to outline some of the key tenants of his party's manifesto, which included specially created committees in Parliament that are responsible for debating Bills before they become law, and to free up Singapore's newspaper and publishing industry to open, regulated competition.

His name was the top Singapore trending item on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the rally.

Quote: "Friends, the PAP likes to accuse the Workers' Party of claiming credit. But honestly my friends, they are number one, they are the Olympic gold medallists when it comes to claiming credit."

7. Sembawang GRC candidate Kevryn Lim

Where: National Solidarity Party rally at Circuit Road for MacPherson SMC

When: Monday, Sept 7

Why memorable: Ms Lim was reduced to a sobbing wreck at one point when she talked about a subject close to her heart - the lack of support afforded to single parents.

Speaking in both Cantonese and English, she recalled her experiences of meeting such individuals during her walkabouts in Sembawang GRC and went on to call for 16-weeks maternity leave for single mothers, as well as baby bonuses and tax benefits for single-parent families.

Pointing out that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long had mentioned these benefits in his National Day Rally speech, she questioned: "Why are they left out? They also hold a Singaporean passport."

The 26-year-old, who is bringing up a 2 1/2-year-old son on her own, later revealed that she was overcome by the memories of those she had met on her walkabouts - including an unwed mother who had to scrape by on $1,000 a month and a single father who had to sleep on his parents' sofa - and broke down.

Quote: "Let us fight for equal rights and leave no Singaporean behind. In the pledge, it says based on justice and equality."