Leaders of the Workers' Party (WP) last night spoke up for its Punggol East candidate, Ms Lee Li Lian, paying her a glowing tribute as a caring "people person".
Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh, whom the 34-year-old sales trainer served as a legislative assistant, described her as a "daughter of Singapore" for her public service.
"Li Lian proves that ordinary people can do extraordinary things and that you don't need to be a scholar, have a doctorate, or be a rich businessman to contribute to Singapore," he said, in the party's first rally for the Jan 26 by-election.
Many shared anecdotes or experiences to illustrate her friendliness and exuberance.
Mr Singh recounted the first time he met Ms Lee was when they were bus leaders on a one-day tour organised by the WP-held Hougang ward in May 2010.
He was impressed with the way she guided him, a non-Mandarin speaker and rookie volunteer, in chaperoning and interacting with some of the Mandarin-speaking residents.
She was also hands-on in helping the older folk board and alight from the bus, he said. It showed him that she was someone who makes people around her comfortable and cares for them.
"These are important qualities for anyone seeking to be an MP," he added.
WP chief Low Thia Khiang also endorsed Ms Lee, who is in a four-way fight with rivals from the People's Action Party (PAP) and two other opposition parties.
He said: "From what I know of Li Lian, I believe she will be totally immersed in the lives of Punggol East residents and will have no problem running the town council."
Her tireless work was praised by party colleagues. Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam said his years of working with Ms Lee in the party left him with three words to describe her: energetic, enthusiastic and empathetic.
Even her gender became a selling point, as WP chairman Sylvia Lim urged voters to put another woman in Parliament, saying there were already many male MPs from the PAP, a clear reference to PAP opponent Koh Poh Koon.
"And I can tell you one thing about WP women: We work," she said. "Li Lian is young, energetic and dynamic, and she can do something I can't do - she can run in high heels."
Speaking towards the end of the rally, Ms Lee listed several policy proposals, such as mandatory paternity leave, lowering child-care centre fees and allowing elderly people above the age of 75 to tap on Medi-save without the existing limits.
Highlighting her heartland background of growing up in a three-room HDB flat, she urged voters to back her, saying: "I'm running for this because I want a better Singapore, not only for us, but also for our children."