Huggers, baby carriers, auntie killers and more: GE2015 candidates' campaign styles

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin with 19-month-old Gyven Lim and his father Mr Vincent Lim on Sept 6, 2015.
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin with 19-month-old Gyven Lim and his father Mr Vincent Lim on Sept 6, 2015.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Style is knowing who you are, and what you want to say, American writer Gore Vidal said. Parliamentary hopefuls have been getting their messages across to voters by exuding several unique styles in the hustings so far. We sieve out the touchy-feely and the fitness fanatics from the autograph signers for some light-hearted observations from the campaign trail.

1. The huggers

Almost every candidate canvassing for votes on their walkabouts will greet residents with a handshake. Some take it one step further with a personal touch by hugging. And there are several styles of hugging.

We present the two-armed reacharound, witnessed when MacPherson candidate Tin Pei Ling was embraced by a supportive resident.

There is also the warm side-embrace as shown by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. It's no secret that the People's Action Party (PAP) veteran is a favourite at Marine Parade GRC, and 56-year-old Ubi resident Madam Chu Eng Lan showed just how happy she is to see ESM Goh.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong hugging Madam Chu at Eunos Crescent Market and Food Centre on Sept 5, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Then there's the no-words-needed-hug, as if there's such deep understanding and rapport between candidate and resident that the embrace says it all.

2. The singers and dancers

When winning the battle for the voters' minds is simply not enough, go for their hearts. The result? We catch a glimpse of another side of the candidates that is sometimes lost in the intensity and seriousness of the ongoing hustings - a creative, spontaneous and, sometimes, more tender side.

The PAP's candidate for Potong Pasir SMC, Mr Sitoh Yi Pin, got the ball rolling when he joined a group of aunties in one of their regular dance sessions, while East Coast GRC candidate Lee Yi Shyan showed off his singing chops with a rendition of Sparrow With A Bamboo Twig, by popular xinyao pioneer Liang Wern Fook, during a PAP rally in Bedok.

Mr Arthero Lim, the SDA's candidate for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC who is a film-maker, provided with an amusing take on the Central Provident Fund, as he morphed into a melancholic singing uncle who wandered around a HDB neighbourhood to the tune of popular Hokkien song Wa Meng Ti (I Ask Heaven).

A screengrab from the video Mr Lim posted. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ HAOHAO RAO

There's also an extended peek into the life of opposition politician Chee Soon Juan. The SDP secretary-general's two daughters were the stars in a YouTube video as they strummed their guitars and sang McFly's It's All About You, along with a collage of pictures of Dr Chee and his family.

3. The fitness fanatics

If you're going to be on your feet all day, every day while on the campaign trail, you might as well turn it into a real workout, right?

Judging by the sweat-soaked shirt he had on as he hopped from house to house, Ang Mo Kio candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon had definitely had a workout.

By now, many would have seen Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin's sprint from house to house in his customised red "Maju-Lah" running shoes. Several others like PAP's Lim Biow Chuan have also resorted to quicker steps in order to get more house visits in.

Cabinet-mate Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, who wears a Jawbone Up activity tracker, uploads a screenshot of his activity for the day at the end of each day of campaigning on his Facebook page. His biggest workout so far was on Day 3: 23,267 steps over 18.6km, translating into 2,465 calories burnt. He understandably enjoyed his roti prata breakfast the next morning.

Meanwhile, former chief of defence force Ng Chee Meng, who is contesting as part of the team in Pasir Ris-Punggol, got his hands on some resistance bands during a morning exercise with residents.

4. The autographers

Step aside, One Direction. The Sept 11 polls have shown that politicians are sought after for their autographs just as much as the next Harry Styles.

Scores of people have been getting in line to get Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan to autograph his book.

But even for those who are not authors, there are other things to pen their name to.

Take PAP's Patrick Tay for example. The West Coast candidate has been seen putting pen to photo card, and even voters' shirts.

One resident, in fact, was so supportive of the PAP East Coast anchor minister Lim Swee Say that he asked for the team's campaign poster to be put up on his gates, with the Manpower Minister's autograph.

5. The baby carriers

No election anywhere goes by without a politician carrying, cuddling, high-fiving and kissing babies, toddlers or young children.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen met young Bishan Toa-Payoh resident Regina on a walkabout on Day 3 of campaigning. He juxtaposed their latest snapshot together beside a heartwarming photo of him carrying her back in 2011 when the last elections were held. "Both Regina and Bishan-Toa Payoh have grown bigger," he said.

Minister of State for Defence and National Development Maliki Osman and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck have both scored points while out canvassing for votes.

Being out and about on the campaign trail has meant time away from her newborn granddaughter for Jalan Besar candidate Lily Neo. Her son and daughter-in-law, however, surprised her by bringing the little baby girl to see her while she was visiting residents.

The blissful grandmother posted a picture of her with her granddaughter on Facebook, drawing some netizens to comment: "Granddaughter? You where got so old?"

6. The auntie killers

Underestimate the auntie brigrade at your own peril. Building a rapport with them takes a certain kind of skill not all candidates possess.

The still debonair Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is one candidate who exudes ageless charm, while Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang, who lent his larger-than-life presence to the candidates on walkabouts in Marine Parade and East Coast GRCs, is still proving to be a huge hit with the ladies.

Madam Lim Eng Lye, 60, who sells vegetarian foodstuff, says "I hope you get elected!" after presenting Mr Goh with a bouquet of flowers at Eunos Crescent Market and Food Centre on Sept 5, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Tampines GRC candidate Baey Yam Keng's good looks and social media savvy have earned him a Facebook fan club page. NTUC secretary-general and Tanjong Pagar candidate Chan Chun Sing has also impressed many with his ability to banter with residents on his walkabouts - check out his interaction with the auntie selling seafood in a wet market below.