GE2015: Workers' Party's Daniel Goh weighs in on PAP's unveiling of candidates at coffee shops

Workers' Party candidate Daniel Goh was asked by a reporter about the PAP's choice of heartland venues to unveil its candidates while the WP was doing it at its headquarters.
Workers' Party candidate Daniel Goh was asked by a reporter about the PAP's choice of heartland venues to unveil its candidates while the WP was doing it at its headquarters.PHOTO: DANIEL GOH/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party's (WP) candidate Daniel Goh has weighed in on the People's Action Party's (PAP) approach of introducing some candidates for the coming election in coffee shops and other heartland venues.

"It would have been extremely uncomfortable for me if I was introduced as a candidate at the coffeeshop or some other heartland spaces, because it would be symbolic tokenism that appropriates our living space for my own political profit," Mr Goh, 42, wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. (Aug 26)

WP formally introduced the National University of Singapore sociologist as its candidate at the party's Syed Alwi Road headquarters on Wednesday.

Mr Goh said he was asked by a reporter at the event about the PAP's choice of heartland venues to unveil its candidates while WP was doing it at its headquarters.

But he did not get the chance to answer the question.

"The question left me thinking. My answer would have been, with a bit of extra hindsight time, 'So what? I live in heartland spaces every day; I get introduced as a candidate at the HQ because it is a special event'," he wrote.

"My normal reality is the heartland, the heartland is not a special event for me. My life is the heartland, the heartland is not my symbolic gesture."

In the Facebook post, Mr Goh wrote about how he made a trip to the Serangoon heartland shopping mall Nex to get a cashier's order for the election deposit after the WP introduction.

"I politely declined promoters trying to sell me something and negotiated some kan cheong aunties at the escalators," he wrote.

He added that while there was a buzz on social media about his candidate introduction, "the irony is no one recognised me in the heartland, because I fade into it with my unclely tee-shirt and berms".

PAP has announced earlier it would introduce its confirmed slate of new candidates and incumbents for the election at the constituencies where they will contest, in a break from its previous practice of a managed introduction at the party headquarters by a senior member of its executive committee.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is PAP organising secretary, told the media that the change in approach was intentional as it wanted residents to be comfortable with candidates, and for potential candidates to also know residents so as to serve them well.

Over the last two weeks, the PAP has introduced some new candidates in heartland settings such as coffee shops.

The candidate introduction for constituencies like Tanjong Pagar and Bishan-Toa Payoh took place in coffee shops.

Others, like East Coast GRC and MacPherson SMC, held the event at PAP branch offices.

On Thursday, the Reform Party also unveiled its candidates for West Coast GRC and Radin Mas SMC at a hawker centre.

The Singapore Democratic Party, meanwhile, has picked its party headquarters in Ang Mo Kio as the venue to unveil its candidates.