Chilling out on Cooling Off Day

Candidates take welcome break from the heat of the by-election hustings

PUNGGOL East by-election candidates spent yesterday resting and relaxing with family and friends, as they awaited the hustle and bustle of the polls today.

Dr Koh Poh Koon of the People's Action Party, the Workers' Party's Ms Lee Li Lian and the Singapore Democratic Alliance's Mr Desmond Lim did what they normally do for their families.

Dr Koh took his daughter to a childcare centre, Ms Lee did housework while Mr Lim cooked fried Hokkien mee for a late morning breakfast with his wife.

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party, however, was upset that the party's website was down after his rally the day before. As a result, he could not upload his rally video.

The 53-year-old party chief spent the afternoon at his lawyer's office, discussing how to get special permission from the Elections Department to upload his video.

As of last night, a check by The Straits Times showed the video was not on the website.

After nine days at the hustings, shaking hands, climbing stairs, knocking on doors and wooing voters at rallies, the candidates welcomed the break.

They are not allowed to campaign on Cooling Off Day, a time for voters to reflect rationally on whom to vote for.

For Dr Koh, the day started later than usual. He slept till 8.30am, quite a change from his daily rise at 5am since the campaign started on Jan 16.

After driving his daughter to childcare, he went to Mount Alvernia Hospital to check on an 83-year-old patient he had operated on earlier this month.

After lunch with a friend, he headed home to his Dover flat where he watched a movie with his wife and two daughters.

Asked how he felt, the 40-year-old said: "I'm feeling quite at peace. I've done my best and I'm just enjoying the time I have with my family now."

WP's Ms Lee spent the day at home with her husband, doing housework and sharing a meal.

In the evening, the 34-year- old took 10 party members and volunteers to dinner to thank them for their help. Many took leave from work to help her.

It was her best meal since the campaigning started, she said, as she tucked into a plate of grilled chicken.

SDA's Mr Lim began his day at 7.30am by going grocery shopping at an Ang Mo Kio wet market.

Wearing a polo shirt, bermudas and slippers, and pulling a red trolley, he stopped occasionally to chat with residents who recognised him.

He laughed when asked about being seen in what some would say is sloppy attire: "It is okay, I am a typical Singaporean, right?"

In the afternoon, he caught the Singapore-made movie Taxi! Taxi! with his wife.

Like the others, a shared meal also figured in Mr Jeyaretnam's day.

With four party members and the wife of one of them, he had a dim sum lunch at a restaurant in Sengkang.