Gearing up for the General Election

Opposition parties hold outreach events

(Above) WP chief Low Thia Khiang arriving at the dinner with (behind him) Mr Png Eng Huat, Mr Faisal Manap and Mr Pritam Singh. (Left) The SPP's Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss (standing) at the picnic.
(Above) WP chief Low Thia Khiang arriving at the dinner with (behind him) Mr Png Eng Huat, Mr Faisal Manap and Mr Pritam Singh. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
(Above) WP chief Low Thia Khiang arriving at the dinner with (behind him) Mr Png Eng Huat, Mr Faisal Manap and Mr Pritam Singh. (Left) The SPP's Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss (standing) at the picnic.
(Above) The SPP's Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss (standing) at the picnic.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Walkabouts were not the only activity held by opposition parties yesterday, with one organising a dinner to mark Singapore's 50th National Day and another holding a picnic to reach out to voters.

All seven elected MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs from the Workers' Party (WP) skipped last night's National Day Rally (NDR) by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and celebrated Singapore's Golden Jubilee with over 1,800 residents and supporters over dinner instead.

The MPs, including party chief Low Thia Khiang, arrived to loud applause at the event held at an open field in Hougang Central, before guests tucked into an eight-course Chinese dinner.

Speaking at what was set up to be the party's own SG50 celebration, Mr Low, when proposing a toast, said: "We wish Singapore prosperity and progress in democracy!"

Last night's NDR marked the first time there were no WP representatives after the party grew its parliamentary presence with a win in Aljunied GRC in 2011. Opposition and Nominated MPs were first invited to the NDR in 2007.

A WP spokesman had told the media on Aug 14 that its MPs could not attend the NDR as the date for its dinner had been decided last December, and the party had been selling tickets - priced at $45 apiece - to residents for the past few months.

While the date for the NDR changes every year, it is typically held about two weeks after National Day on Aug 9. At the annual event, the Prime Minister usually outlines future directions for Singapore.

Some observers say deliberately giving the rally a miss may itself be part of a strategy by WP to distance itself from the event and the ruling People's Action Party Government.

Hawker Linda Heng, 50, who attended the WP dinner with her husband Royston Nerva and friends, described it as a heartwarming event where everyone came together like one big family to celebrate.

"Although we don't know the people at the next table, I feel we are united in our support for the WP and our love for the country."

Besides the WP, a host of opposition parties, such as the Reform Party, People's Power Party, Singapore Democratic Party and Singapore People's Party (SPP), also held outreach activities yesterday.

Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, the SPP candidate for Mountbatten SMC, organised a picnic at Wilkinson Interim Park, next to Katong Swimming Complex. Around 20 residents, supporters and helpers mingled over curry puffs and other snacks during the two-hour picnic.

Financial consultant Bobby Ng, 35, turned up as he was keen to volunteer for Mrs Chong-Aruldoss in Mountbatten, where she is set for a rematch with the PAP's Mr Lim Biow Chuan, who won with 58.62 per cent of vote in 2011. "I helped her before in 2011. But four years have passed, so I want to talk to her and find out whether it's worth my time to volunteer again," Mr Ng said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'Opposition parties hold outreach events'. Print Edition | Subscribe