SINGAPORE - In the final hours of the 2015 General Election campaign last night (Wednesday, Sept 9), politicians across the island battled to get their message out ahead of a cooling-off pause before polling opens tomorrow (Friday, Sept 11).
A whopping 14 election rallies brought tens of thousands of Singaporeans into stadiums and fields as leaders of the major parties delivered the last, urgent pitches of the nine-day campaign.
In East Coast GRC and Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, duelling rallies between the PAP incumbents and their opposition challengers drew the biggest crowds, while Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made his final stump speech at Jalan Besar GRC.
WP LINE MAKES NO SENSE, SAYS PM
If the PAP is doing no good, vote for us. We will punish the PAP. But if the PAP does good, it's also because of the WP. Vote for us. So, heads I win, tails you lose. Which bookie will offer you this?
PM LEE, asking voters not to be swayed by the Workers' Party's argument
Asking voters to reward good policies and good leadership, he said that the People's Action Party was presenting its report card to the electorate with a clear conscience.
"Whatever we should have done, we have done. Whatever should have moved, has already started moving," he said in Mandarin. "When the Government does its best for the people, is it unreasonable to ask for your support?"
He asked voters not to be swayed by a Workers' Party argument that he said "makes no sense":
"If the PAP is doing no good, vote for us. We will punish the PAP. But if the PAP does good, it's also because of the WP. Vote for us.
"So, heads I win, tails you lose," he said, characterising the argument. "Which bookie will offer you this?"
Dismissing the opposition line that they are "speaking on behalf of the people", PM Lee said:
"I don't need them to stand in the middle. Do you think we could have been the Government for 50-something years and won every election without talking to people, without understanding what people need, without reflecting on what people aspire to?"
In East Coast GRC, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that the PAP had left its former "heavy-handed, top-down" style behind and was now a party that "listens, engages and leads".
Pointing to the PAP's anchor candidate in the GRC, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, as an example of a committed, ground-up leader, Mr Tharman said that Mr Lim has been "at the vanguard, at the front line, of change for a better society".
Lending his star power to a final-night rally in the constituency seen as one of the hottest contests in this election, Mr Tharman also highlighted two other significant policy shifts - rebalancing economic and social goals, and developing a culture of deepening skills at all stages of life.
He asked for voters' support for this programme, declaring that a "changed PAP" is ready to lead Singapore into the future.
Nearby in Bedok Stadium, WP chief Low Thia Khiang told East Coast GRC voters that their mandate was key to strengthening the party's effectiveness in Parliament, pointing to the calibre of the team it has put up there, which includes an Oxford-educated former government scholar and a local academic.
Only with a certain number of MPs can the WP "have a resounding voice" in Parliament, said Mr Low. "This way, the Government will take people's voices and views more seriously," he said, adding that only serious political competition would make the PAP "seriously solve the problems the people face".
WP East Coast anchor candidate Gerald Giam asked voters to build on the party's breakthrough in Aljunied in 2011, and further erode one-party dominance in Singapore.
In Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, the PAP incumbents ended their campaign on a softer note after some of the fiercest attacks of the hustings against their challengers from the Singapore Democratic Party.
Anchor PAP candidate Vivian Balakrishnan explained that "when someone comes along, talks very well but sells koyok and puts our country in danger, I fight back".
SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, the party's anchor candidate for the GRC, concluded his first hustings in 15 years, telling the audience that he was proud of a "clean and positive campaign".
Today is Cooling-off Day, and no electioneering is allowed. But even as politicians take a break, the first ballots will be cast in overseas locations.
From noon today, Singaporeans in Dubai can vote, followed shortly by those in London.
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