Parties go all out for votes in last-minute campaigning

HOURS before all campaigning had to stop, the Workers' Party (WP) turned to both new media tools and good old-fashioned groundwork to boost last-minute support for candidate Lee Li Lian.

The opposition party posted a campaign video montage on YouTube and a note on her Facebook page at 11.22pm, which were quickly shared online by WP leaders and activists.

In her post, Ms Lee reiterated her campaign platforms and policy proposals in areas such as childcare and transport. "I am an ordinary citizen who faces many of the same challenges you do every day," she wrote. "As a daughter, a wife, and a future mother, I share your concerns. That is why I am running in this by-election, because I want a better Singapore for all of us, and for our children."

Two other opposition candidates - Mr Desmond Lim of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam of Reform Party (RP) - also mounted 11th-hour efforts such as door-to-door visits and Facebook posts to shore up their support.

At the RP's rally last night, Mr Jeyaretnam tried to grab votes from the WP by attacking it as being "blindly obedient" in Parliament and promising to be the "genuine voice" of the voters.

Close to midnight, he also posted on Facebook, urging residents not to spoil their votes, nor to support the WP out of anger at the People's Action Party (PAP), but to elect him as the best-qualified candidate. "What is voting tactically? It means voting for a party you don't believe in any longer to stop a party you are angry with. That is betraying democracy."

Ms Lee, a sales trainer and the only woman in the four-cornered fight, is widely seen as the opposition candidate with the best chance against PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon.

Yesterday, Ms Lee revealed to reporters during a brief interview that the WP had managed to cover all 127 HDB blocks in the ward.

Conspicuously absent from her side, however, were party chiefs Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim, who were still soliciting support by visiting congregation points like the LRT stations and the shopping plazas in the ward. But wherever the WP entourage went, their paths crossed with PAP ministers and MPs who were deployed to the same venues.

The WP had changed its mind about issuing a media statement to respond to the PAP rally last night after hearing that the ruling party had cancelled a post-rally press conference planned for 11pm. The last-minute battle for votes came before Cooling-Off Day today, when all campaigning must cease.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg