GE2015: Company that owns 'Optimus Prime' truck with Workers' Party sign says it is not linked to party

The Workers' Party's 'Optimus Prime' truck in Simei after the WP rally last Sunday night.
The Workers' Party's 'Optimus Prime' truck in Simei after the WP rally last Sunday night. ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

SINGAPORE - A prime mover with a 20-foot container emblazoned with the Workers' Party hammer logo and slogan has been spotted near rally sites, but the company that owns the vehicle says it has nothing to do with the party or its election campaign.

Ms Jasmin Poh, operations head of Asiagroup Leasing which owns the prime mover, told The Straits Times that it received many calls from members of the public on Saturday (Sept 5), after the vehicle was first spotted on Friday night.

The sides of the container attached to the prime mover was brightly lit in blue and had the party logo and slogan Empower Your Future.

Images of the prime mover went viral after it was spotted last Friday. It was dubbed "Optimus Prime", after a lead character in the Transformers movie. Word then was a WP supporter was behind it.

The callers asked if the company was sponsoring WP's election campaign.

"We would like to clarify that Asiagroup did not design the container or is a sponsor of WP's campaign," she said. "The company's prime mover is strictly for non-commercial use and definitely not for political purposes."

She said the company terminated the contract it had with the person who had leased the prime mover soon after that.

She added that a prime mover that was seen in Simei on Sunday ferrying the same lit-up container does not belong to Asiagroup.

In an exclusive interview with The Straits Times on Tuesday (Sept 8) morning, WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang said the prime mover "was not done by us".

"It's not a party initiative. We can't stop others from doing what they want to support us," he said.

The driver of the prime mover on Friday claimed he was unaware of the WP signage on the container.

He told The Straits Times that he was told to pick up an empty container from Ubi and to deliver it to Yishun. He said it was dark when he collected the container.

When he reached Yishun, he said he was instructed by the hirer to return to Ubi with the container. That was how the prime mover resulted in making a round trip from Ubi to Yishun and back to Ubi.

The driver claimed that the container lit up as he was driving from Ubi to Yishun. "When I picked up the container from Ubi, it was empty and I did not notice any WP advertisement printed on it," said the 26-year-old, who did not want to be named.

"But midway, I noticed many people looking at my vehicle and taking photos of it," he said. He realised the container was lit by the reflection on his side mirrors, but added that he "didn't know what was on it".

"It was only when I returned to Ubi and alighted from the vehicle that I saw what was on it."