Singapore GE2020: Eleven parties likely to contest all 93 seats

PAP candidate Eric Chua (left) and a volunteer helping with wooden boards for Nomination Day and Workers' Party's candidates (right) Sylvia Lim and Muhamad Faisal Manap interacting with residents.
PAP candidate Eric Chua (left) and a volunteer helping with wooden boards for Nomination Day and Workers' Party's candidates (right) Sylvia Lim and Muhamad Faisal Manap interacting with residents.ST PHOTOS: GAVIN FOO, LIM YAOHUI

Nomination Day could see surprises, with some constituency line-ups still under wraps

Parliamentary hopefuls from 11 political parties will head to nine nomination centres today to register for the general election.

The upcoming polls have already thrown up some surprises, and political watchers said more drama might unfold during the nomination process this morning.

While the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is likely to face a contest in all 93 seats, and perhaps even see three-cornered fights in a number of single-member constituencies, uncertainty remains as many parties - including the PAP itself - are keeping their cards close to the chest.

Nomination procedures are expected to play out sedately, with party supporters and members of the public not allowed to gather near nomination centres.

But never before have so many political parties contested a general election in Singapore's history, opening up possibilities for tactical switches during today's hour-long nomination process.

Unlike in the 2015 General Election, the PAP has not unveiled its full slate for every group representation constituency and SMC in advance of Nomination Day.

For instance, it remains to be seen which minister will helm the PAP team in East Coast GRC, where former Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and former Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan are likely to step down.

The PAP is likely to see a keen fight against the Workers' Party (WP) there, where it won with just 54.8 per cent of the vote in 2011.

West Coast GRC is another constituency to watch, as former PAP stalwart and now Progress Singapore Party (PSP) secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock will face off against Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security S. Iswaran's team.

The former PAP MP for Ayer Rajah, whose old constituency is now part of West Coast GRC, also intends to field a team in Tanjong Pagar GRC. But he has not revealed if his party wild card Lee Hsien Yang, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's brother, will stand in this election.

"The fact that he (Lee Hsien Yang) is now a member of the PSP means there's always the possibility he might well decide to throw his name into the ring today," said Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, an analyst with management consultancy Solaris Strategies Singapore.

 
 

Many eyes will also be on Aljunied, the only opposition-held GRC, where the WP will be entering battle without its veteran and former leader Low Thia Khiang, who is retiring from politics.

In explaining its choice of Make Your Vote Count as the party's slogan for GE2020, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh said on Sunday that there is a "real risk of wipeout" of elected opposition MPs in the coming election. The WP is fielding 21 candidates in this election, compared with 28 in GE2015.

CALL TO FOCUS ON BIG ISSUES

It's about Singapore's future at a very grave moment in our history, when we are facing the most serious crisis we have seen since independence - health, jobs and the future - and I think we should focus our attention on those big issues.

PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG, on what the general election is about. 

But PM Lee said the WP's suggestion that the PAP could win all 93 seats in the next Parliament is unrealistic and an election tactic. "There are real problems on the ground which cause people concern, and we can feel it," said PM Lee yesterday.

Asked about his estranged brother joining an opposition party, PM Lee said: "This GE is not about me or any family disputes which may involve my brother and me. It's about Singapore's future at a very grave moment in our history."

The PAP's slogan for this election is Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future, and PM Lee has said its manifesto addresses the key issues at the top of people's minds.

Polling Day is July 10.

Dr Mustafa noted that the WP has adopted a defensive posture with its messaging and smaller slate this election, because it is undergoing party renewal and does not want to overstretch itself.

 
 

Its slogan and "wipeout" message are aimed squarely at Aljunied, where the party hopes "to be able to swing back some of the middle-ground voters who voted for the PAP in 2015", he added.

"For both sides, the political messaging is quite clear," he said. "The question now is which one the electorate accepts and agrees with."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2020, with the headline 'Eleven parties likely to contest all 93 seats'. Print Edition | Subscribe