How the 10 political parties did at the General Election forum at the NUSS

(From left) People's Action Party's Sim Ann, People's Power Party's Goh Meng Seng and Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaretnam, moderator Viswa Sadasivan and Singapore Democratic Alliance's Harminder Pal Singh pictured at the National University of Singapor
(From left) People's Action Party's Sim Ann, People's Power Party's Goh Meng Seng and Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaretnam, moderator Viswa Sadasivan and Singapore Democratic Alliance's Harminder Pal Singh pictured at the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) Political Dialogue on the General Election 2015 on Aug 18, 2015.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - On Tuesday night, representatives from 10 political parties set to contest the upcoming general election sent representatives to speak at a forum organised by the National University of Singapore Society.

It was the first, and possibly only time this year that all parties, including the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), came together and lined up side by side for such an event.

As much as it was also an early opportunity for opposition party representatives to take on the PAP, it was also an occasion for them to make their case to voters in the audience and differentiate themselves from their opposition peers.

The forum was also filmed, and moderator Viswa Sadasivan said that footage would be put up "unedited" online.

"We want to make this open and transparent," he said at the start of the session.

So how did the representatives do? We give you our take.

(In alphabetical order)

1. Democratic Progressive Party

(Represented by party chief Benjamin Pwee)

Mr Benjamin Pwee kicked off proceedings by staking out the DPP's a role as a constructive opposition party and he largely stuck to that script all night. His basic message was that the PAP no longer has a monopoly on good ideas and needs some help from opposition members. Still, the DPP is jostling in this space with the Workers' Party and it is not clear it did enough to make a case for why it is different.

2. National Solidarity Party

(Represented by centrel executive committee member Steve Chia)

Mr Steve Chia was a last-minute replacement for acting secretary-general Hazel Poa - who quit the party a day later - and it showed, as he came without a clear set of talking points he could drum home. In the end, it was a fairly anonymous performance.

3. People's Action Party

(Represented by Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Sim Ann, who is Minister of State for Education, and Communications and Information )

Ms Sim Ann had a few stumbles, including at one point where the moderator said she was "being a bit of a politician" by not answering a question. Still, these did not amount to a faus pax or anything that would necessarily go viral or make the news. It wasn't a standout performance but the party will likely see it as "mission accomplished".

4. People's Power Party

(Represented by party chief Goh Meng Seng)

Mr Goh Meng Seng focused largely on the idea of separation of powers and his own political experience - but his narrative reinforced the impression that his month-old party is reliant on one man.

5. Reform Party

(Represented by party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam)

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam stuck mostly to his pet topic and hit out at the government over what he considers its financial opacity. And while he started strongly, it was a largely uneven performance by Mr Jeyaretnam who fumbled for an answer towards the end about whether democracy and effective government go together. It was an uncomfortable moment and the organisers apparently decided it was best to cut it out of the online video despite a promises not to edit the recording.

6. Singapore Democratic Alliance

(Represented by potential candidate Harminder Pal Singh)

The audience clearly lapped up Mr Harminder Pal Singh's charismatic delivery. The motivational speaker is evidently good at giving speeches and getting a crowd going. But while his election rally-like performance got loud applause, it is unclear if anyone left any wiser about what the party stood for.

7. Singapore Democratic Party

(Represented by potential candidate Dr Paul Tambyah)

Dr Paul Tambyah probably spoke the least but was among the most effective. He was able to stand out by emphasising the SDP's push for a more liberal democracy. The SDP finished with a clear position that the audience could take home and mull over.

8. Singaporeans First Party

(Represented by party chief Tan Jee Say)

True to its name, the party came out hammering the Government's immigration policy, saying the policy was founded on the belief that new citizens vote for the government of the day. His "born and bred Singaporeans" line was a crowd-pleaser, but also veered uncomfortably close to an "us vs them" hostility towards the end.

9. Singapore People's Party

(Represented by candidate Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss)

The party clearly believes that SPP chief and opposition icon Chiam See Tong's legacy is a strong trump card. Mrs Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss invoked Mr Chiam to show that the SPP had parliamentary and town council management experience, something few others at the table could claim.

10. Workers' Party

(Represented by Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam)

Mr Gerald Giam accused the PAP of coming to the forum prepared to stir up the WP's town council woes. But he came prepared with a defence. He mostly pulled off the balancing act of including electioneering jibes while appearing constructive. At one point, when a member of the audience asked if the government would force companies to hire Singaporeans first, Mr Giam jumped in to say that there is no such thing as perfect policy.