Singapore GE: Political parties step out to engage again

PAP MPs, opposition candidates go on walkabouts and home visits while observing safety guidelines

People's Action Party MP Henry Kwek (left) greeting residents and a well-wisher giving Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock a fist bump, both at at Mayflower Market and Food Centre on June 19, 2020. PHOTOS: HENRY KWEK/FACEBOOK, CHONG JUN LIANG

Political parties were back on walkabouts yesterday, hitting the ground on the first day that Singapore eased restrictions on dining in and small social gatherings.

MPs from the People's Action Party (PAP) and candidates from opposition parties were seen meeting residents at markets and doing home visits throughout the day across the island.

In keeping with safe distancing guidelines, however, they wore masks, largely kept to groups of no larger than five and did not shake hands with residents. Parties had put all such activity on hold during the circuit breaker.

Both the PAP and the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) were at Mayflower Market and Food Centre in the newly formed Kebun Baru single-member constituency at different times yesterday morning.

Mr Henry Kwek, the PAP MP for the ward, visited the market early in the morning. He posted photos of himself talking to residents and shopkeepers.

"Delighted to reconnect with our residents, and even happier to see them doing well and going about their day! While we've been staying in touch (for the) last few months largely through Zoom and over the phone, nothing beats seeing them face to face," he wrote.

A group of about 20 people from PSP led by Dr Tan Cheng Bock then visited the market at about 8.30am. The group either waved at residents or did fist bumps instead of shaking hands. They also split up into groups of five for breakfast.

The PSP has said that it intends to contest Kebun Baru, a single seat which has been carved out of Nee Soon GRC in the latest review of electoral boundaries, in the next general election.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin meanwhile visited a market in Chai Chee.

The Marine Parade GRC MP wrote on Facebook: "Visiting Chai Chee again to check on phase two situation. Seems very orderly. Folks were queueing up, masked up, (keeping) safe distances. Everyone was visibly happier but many still echoed very sensible comments about still needing to be careful but not to be overly fearful and downcast.

"Hawkers said that business has been slow but hopefully will begin to pick up."

Over in Bishan, the Singapore People's Party was distributing fliers.

The party has previously announced its intention to run in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Potong Pasir, and party members - including secretary-general Steve Chia, 49, vice-chairman Williamson Lee, 40, Mr Osman Sulaiman, 45, and Mr Melvyn Chiu, 41 - turned up for their first official outreach session post-circuit breaker.

Members of the Singapore People's Party distributing fliers in Bishan on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: CARA WONG

The party members and several volunteers dispersed to distribute fliers to 47 blocks of flats.

Mr Chia instructed them not to linger too long at each flat, as residents might still have concerns over the coronavirus.

Both the Reform Party and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) also conducted walkabouts yesterday.

Members of the Reform Party on a walkabout on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHARMAINE NG

Reform Party chairman Andy Zhu was with three of the candidates the party had introduced this week - assistant property manager Gurdev Singh, 55, party deputy treasurer Mahaboob Batcha, 52, and human resource practitioner Darren Soh, 52 - at a walkabout at Block 726 Clementi West Street 2 market yesterday.

Meanwhile the SDP went on home visits in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. The team led by party members James Gomez, 55, Damanhuri Abas, 49, and Bryan Lim, 43, went door to door distributing fliers at a few Housing Board blocks in Choa Chu Kang North 7.

Members of the Singapore Democratic Party on a walkabout in Choa Chu Kang on June 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

The Workers' Party did not announce any walkabouts yesterday, though it did put up a video on its Facebook page showing members gearing up for house visits.

  • Additional reporting by Zaihan Mohamed Yusof and Fabian Koh

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2020, with the headline Singapore GE: Political parties step out to engage again. Subscribe