With GE looming, political parties get creative amid Covid-19 outbreak

The soap given out by Kaki Bukit PAP grassroots adviser Shamsul Kamar to residents of Bedok North yesterday, affixed with his photo. A Eunos volunteer donated almost 100 bottles of sanitiser and refill to the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council for block s
The soap given out by Kaki Bukit PAP grassroots adviser Shamsul Kamar to residents of Bedok North yesterday, affixed with his photo.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Care packs bearing the PAP logo and containing thermometers, hand sanitisers, insect repellent, medicated plasters and FairPrice vouchers.
Care packs bearing the PAP logo and containing thermometers, hand sanitisers, insect repellent, medicated plasters and FairPrice vouchers.PHOTO: SAKTIANDI SUPAAT/FACEBOOK
A Eunos volunteer donated almost 100 bottles of sanitiser and refill to the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council for block sweepers.
A Eunos volunteer donated almost 100 bottles of sanitiser and refill to the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council for block sweepers.PHOTO: PRITAM SINGH/FACEBOOK
Above: Singapore People's Party secretary-general Steve Chia in Toa Payoh, with hand sanitisers that bear the party logo, his name and mobile number.
Above: Singapore People's Party secretary-general Steve Chia in Toa Payoh, with hand sanitisers that bear the party logo, his name and mobile number.PHOTO: STEVE CHIA/FACEBOOK
Above: Progress Singapore Party's goodie bag for healthcare workers containing biscuits, a water bottle and an isotonic drink (toy otter not included).
Above: Progress Singapore Party's goodie bag for healthcare workers containing biscuits, a water bottle and an isotonic drink (toy otter not included).PHOTO: PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY/FACEBOOK

Hand sanitisers, once the preserve of germaphobes, are now all the rage amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Politicians have quickly caught on, amid public health concerns and a looming general election.

They are including sanitisers and soap alongside the usual groceries in care packs that are being donated to front-line staff as a gesture of appreciation, as well as to residents during house visits.

Some paste their party logos on the bottles while others even include mobile phone numbers.

The opposition National Solidarity Party's Facebook page shows 250ml bottles of hand sanitiser bearing the party's logo.

Bedok Reservoir-Punggol grassroots adviser Victor Lye distributed bottles of sanitiser bearing the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) logo to bus captains, cleaners and canteen workers at the Hougang bus interchange earlier this week. A personalised drawing by PAP Community Foundation kindergarten pupils accompanied each bottle.

"We thought that it's important to show this gesture to our front-line workers," Mr Lye told The Straits Times, saying election speculation "does not change what we're doing on the ground".

In Kaki Bukit yesterday, fellow grassroots adviser Shamsul Kamar gave out bars of soap affixed with his photo, sponsored by donors. He also worked with youth volunteers to place hand sanitisers at bus stops.

Meanwhile, his colleague Alex Yeo has secured 1,000 bottles of hand sanitiser for Paya Lebar residents. The sanitisers were all sourced and sponsored by a non-profit youth organisation.

 
 
 

Their election opponent, two-term Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh, who is the Workers' Party chief, noted in a Facebook post last month that a Eunos volunteer had donated almost 100 bottles of sanitiser and refill for block sweepers and conservancy workers.

"It clearly took some effort as the bottles and the sanitiser were procured separately," wrote Mr Singh.

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) opted to dish out food and drinks instead. Its members fanned out to the Ng Teng Fong, National University, Tan Tock Seng and Singapore General hospitals on March 1 to give out goodie bags to healthcare workers. The bags, which the party said were funded by members' donations, contained a PSP water bottle, Khong Guan biscuits, an isotonic drink and an origami heart with a handwritten message.

Some have taken things a step further. Singapore People's Party (SPP) secretary-general Steve Chia has been seen distributing hand sanitisers bearing not just SPP's logo but also his name and mobile phone number to shop and stall owners. The party has said he will lead a team to challenge the PAP incumbents in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, in its third attempt for the GRC.

One of the PAP's incumbents on the ground there, MP Saktiandi Supaat, has issued his own care packs to town council cleaners. Prepared by PAP Women's Wing activists, they contain thermometers, hand sanitisers, insect repellent, medicated plasters and FairPrice supermarket vouchers. Similar packs have been spotted in other PAP wards.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2020, with the headline 'With GE looming, political parties get creative amid Covid-19 outbreak'. Subscribe