Pre-election day events of the Singapore general election, 2006


Pre-election day events of the Singapore general election, 2006

The Pre-election day events of Singapore general election, 2006 are the events concerning the 2006 Singapore general election which occurred before the polling day on 6 May 2006.

Pre-nomination day events

New candidates

This election was expected to have a large number of new candidates as the major political parties had undergone self-renewal in recent years, many of whom belong to the post-1965 generation. PAP had introduced 24 new candidates, including 7 women. The two opposition parties that held a seat, the Workers' Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance had also introduced many first-timers for this election. The WP 15 new faces including 3 women and SDA 6 new faces.

People's Action Party

This is the list of new candidates from the PAP that participated:

* Alvin Yeo Khirn Hai, 44-year-old senior counsel
* Baey Yam Keng, 35-year-old former civil servant
* Christopher de Souza, 30-year-old lawyer
* Denise Phua Lay Peng, 46-year-old, full-time volunteer
* Ellen Lee Geck Hoon, 47-year-old lawyer
* Fatimah Lateef, 40-year-old, consultant
* Grace Fu Hai Yien, 42-year-old senior executive with PSA International
* Hri Kumar, 39-year-old lawyer
* Jessica Tan Soon Neo, 39-year-old, general manager with the Microsoft subsidiary in Singapore
* Josephine Teo Li Min, 38-year-old, director for human resources at the National Trades Union Congress
* Lam Pin Min, 36-year-old, eye surgeon
* Lee Bee Wah, 45-year-old, civil engineer and consultant
* Lee Yi Shyan, 44-year-old, former civil servant
* Liang Eng Hwa, 42-year-old, managing director, Global Financial Markets of DBS Bank
* Lim Biow Chuan, 43-year-old lawyer
* Lim Wee Kiak, 37-year-old, consultant eye surgeon
* Lui Tuck Yew, 44-year-old, former civil servant
* Masagos Zulkifli, 42-year-old vice-president of SingTel Global Services
* Michael Palmer, 37-year-old, a partner at a law firm
* Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, 38-year-old assistant professor at the National University of Singapore
* Seah Kian Peng, 44-year-old, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of NTUC Fairprice Co-operative
* Tan Chin Siong, 47-year-old, Executive Director of the Chinese Development Assistance Council
* Teo Ser Luck, 37-year-old, general manager of DHL Express Singapore.
* Zaqy Mohamad, 31-year-old, regional director at multinational IT firm

ingapore Democratic Alliance

This is the list of new candidates from the SDA that participated:

* Edmund Ng, 33-year-old, Chief executive officer of Infinique Technologies
* Elvin Ong, 26-year-old estate officer
* Ishak Haroun, 42-year-old real estate agent
* Lee Hock Huat, 25-year-old, logistics officer
* Mohamad Hamim Aliyas, 43-year-old property executive
* Muhamad Ali Aman, 39-year-old executive director

Workers' Party

This is the list of new candidates from the WP that participated:

* Abdul Salim bin Harun, 24-year-old sales coordinator
* Brandom Siow Wei Min, 30-year-old Key Account Manager with SIA Cargo, a former president of the National University of Singapore Students Union
* Chia Ti Lik, 33-year-old, lawyer and partner
* Eric Tan, 50-year-old general manager, RBC Dexia Investor Services Trust
* Glenda Han Su May, 30-year-old entrepreneur
* Goh Meng Seng, 36-year-old businessman
* Gopal Krishnan, 52-year-old Senior Housing Maintenance Inspector
* James Gomez, 41-year-old policy analyst in Sweden
* Lee Wai Leng, 26-year old involved in commercial translation services
* Lian Chin Way, 36-year-old regional business manager of a British multinational corporation
* Melvin Tan Kian Hwee 31-year-old IT Executive
* Perry Tong, 34-year-old Management Consultant with the United States Hackett Group
* Sylvia Lim, 40-year-old, Lecturer and Manager at Temasek Polytechnic, previously lawyer
* Tan Wui Hua, 39-year-old, Chief Financial Officer of Lend Lease Singapore
* Yaw Shin Leong, 30-year-old e-business analyst

Candidates who switched parties

This election features a number of candidates who have switched political parties.

* Arthero Lim Tung Hee, (SDA), a former member of SDP
* Cheo Chai Chen (SDA), former member of SDP
* Chia Ti Lik (WP), a former member of Young PAP, the PAP's youth wing
* Edmund Ng, (SDA), a former member of Young PAP
* Tan Lead Shake, (SDA), a former member of DPP
* Vincent Yeo (SDA), a former member of SDP

Arthero Lim Tung Hee, [ cite news | title = SINGAPORE: PM, MM seek aggravated damages from Singapore Democratic Party | date = 27 April 2006 | publisher = Straits Times, posted on AsiaMedia | url = http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=44254 ]

Politicians who are retiring

All politicians who were retiring or stepping down from their seats were from the People's Action Party.

* Ahmad Khalis, who was MP for Hong Kah GRC since 2001 retired. ST Singapore reports: The Law Society of Singapore is formally investigating lawyer and Hong Kah GRC MP Ahmad Khalis Abdul Ghani, who may face disciplinary action if found guilty of breaking any rules.
* Andy Gan, MP for Marine Parade GRC after one term as Member of Parliament.
* Chay Wai Chuen, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC (Queenstown)
* Chew Heng Ching, stepped down as a part of his Kaki Bukit district has been absorbed into the Marine Parade GRC, while East Coast GRC became a five member GRC. Chew has served Parliament for five terms.
* Chin Tet Yung, MP for Sembawang GRC
* Chong Weng Chiew, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC
* David Lim Tik En, who was MP for Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC, since redrawn, and former acting Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, is retiring from politics, after two terms in Parliament.
* Davinder Singh, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
* John Chen, MP for Hong Kah GRC, retired after 18 years in Parliament.
* Lee Yock Suan, MP for East Coast GRC and former Minister stepped down.
* Leong Horn Kee, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
* Loh Meng See, MP for Jalan Besar GRC. Loh had spoken out strongly against the government's decision to legalise casino gambling; he said that he "could have upset some people in the process..." but add that "politics is about always sticking to your fundamental beliefs."
* Low Seow Chay, MP for Chua Chu Kang SMC
* Mohamad Maidin Packer, MP for Marine Parade GRC
* Michael Lim, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
* Othman Haron Eusofe, MP for Marine Parade GRC
* R Ravindran, MP for Marine Parade GRC
* Tan Boon Wan, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC
* Tan Cheng Bock, MP for Ayer Rajah SMC
* Tan Soo Khoon retired after serving seven terms in parliament as part of his district, Kampong Chai Chee, which has been absorbed into another GRC. He was the former Speaker of the Parliament from 1989 to 2002. Tan's GRC, East Coast GRC, became a five member GRC, down from six.
* Tony Tan, a former deputy prime minister, announced on March 26 2006 that he was going to retire from politics. He has been the MP for Sembawang since 1979, which was later absorbed into Sembawang GRC in 1988 with Dr Tan still being the Member of Parliament for that ward.
* Wang Kai Yuen, MP for Bukit Timah ward since 1984.
* Warren Lee, MP for Sembawang GRC after one term
* Yatiman Yusof, MP for Tampines GRC, was in Parliament from 1984 to 2006. He has also stepped down from the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Information, Communications and the Arts Ministry.

Talks on an impending election have surfaced in earnest since mid-2005, two years before the electoral term is constitutionally expected to end in June 2007. [ cite news | title = Elections closer to the heart | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/191857/1/.html | date = 6 February 2006 ] On 9 April 2006, Goh Chok Tong had said that the election was likely to be held in the following four to six weeks. [ cite news | title = Nomination Day not likely before April 22: SM Goh | date = 9 April 2006 | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/202379/1/.html ]

Budget day and progress package

On 17 February 2006, Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore and Secretary General of the PAP delivered the country's Budget Statement to the Parliament. He released details of a S$2.6 billion on a "progress package" including S$500 million for Central Provident Fund top-ups, S$400 million for workfare bonuses, and S$200 million bonuses for national servicemen. Largely due to this package, the 2006 Budget incurred a deficit of S$2.86 billion. [ cite news | title = Singapore Boosts Welfare Spending, Offers Tax Breaks | publisher = Bloomberg | date = 17 February 2006 | url = http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000080&sid=asT6laF3TxH8&refer=asia ] cite news | title = Budget debate starts in Parliament on Monday | publisher =Channel NewsAsia | date = 24 February 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/194811/1/.html ]

Several PAP members attempted to play down the significance of the event. Sim Boon Ann and Halimah Yacob said it was no different from the PAP government's past practices of sharing surpluses when the economy does well. More neutral watchers, such as Gillian Koh from the Institute of Policy Studies, however, say it reflects the government's intentions to fulfil general sentiments in the electorate who feel it is the "right thing" to be done. [ Straits Times, 21 January 2006 ]

Low Thia Khiang (WP) came out strongly against the progress package which he said was no more than a vote-winning tool by the PAP. Low questioned why the government had earlier retorted his call for more spending on education citing that it would result in a budget deficit. Low called for greater transparency on how the government intend to financing the package and to compensate for the budget shortfall. Wong Kan Seng (PAP) later dismissed claims that the "progress package" constitutes a form of vote buying. [ cite news| date = 7 April 2006 | title = PAP dismisses claims that Progress Package is vote buying | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/202053/1/.html | publisher = Channel NewsAsia ] Nonetheless, even PAP MPs such as Wang Kai Yuen (MP-Bukit Timah GRC) had said that the payout would "render the ground sweeter for the ruling party in the coming General Election". Tan Cheng Bock (MP-Ayer Rajah) expressed surprise that the government had more than S$13 billion in capital receipts and asked why these were "not [itemised] in the Budget". [ cite news | title = Too much of a good thing? | date = 28 February 2006 | publisher = Today (newspaper) | url = http://www.todayonline.com/articles/103693.asp ]

Workers' Party manifesto

The Workers' Party (WP) launched an update to its manifesto on 14 January 2006, and became the first party to do so. [ cite news | title = Workers' Party unveils manifesto, plans to contest 3 single wards & 4 GRCs | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 14 January 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/188214/1/.html - by Farah Abdul Rahim ] Amongst its policy proposals, it called for the Presidency to revert to its former ceremonial role and the abolishment of the GRCs, the Ethnic Integration Policy for Housing and Development Board flats, the Resident Committees and the Citizen Consultative Committees. It also revealed its intentions to establish a central agency in the provision of public transport, setting up of a national unemployment insurance scheme and a more comprehensive national health insurance scheme among a host of other things.

On 21 January, PAP launched a coordinated attack on the WP's proposals, with Ng Eng Hen highlighting four of their proposals as "four time bombs... [which] will weaken and tear Singapore apart". [ cite news | title = Workers' Party manifesto threatens social harmony: Dr Ng Eng Hen | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 21 January 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/189345/1/.html - by May Wong ] Khaw Boon Wan, revealed various changes in medical policies, including the Medisave scheme, which has been a constant target for criticism by opposition parties. He also chided the WP for its "failure to understand what makes inter-racialism work in Singapore and why we are different from the rest of the world", referring the four points brought up by Ng Eng Hen as "poisons" [ Straits Times, 22 January 2006 ] Workers' Party Chairman Sylvia Lim released a press statement [ cite news | title = Workers' Party Manifesto 2006 - Response to Ministers' Remarks | publisher = Workers' Party of Singapore | date = 22 January 2006 | url = http://www.wp.sg/news/press_releases/20060122_manifesto.htm - by Sylvia Lim ] on 22 January, responding to each of the four "time bombs" criticised by Ng and adding that the party was standing firmly by its manifesto. [ cite news | title = The Workers' Party on those four 'time bombs' | publisher = Today (Singapore newspaper) | date = 23 January 2006 | url = http://www.todayonline.com/articles/96784.asp - by Lee U-Wen ]

Cartoon T-shirts

During the weekend on March 4-5, members of the Singapore People's Party were at the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC conducting a walk-about and selling $10 white T-shirts featuring a caricature of a red ant with boxing gloves. Teo Chee Hean (PAP), an incumbent MP for the GRC, made fun of it saying "I don't think our residents want their flats to be overrun by red ants". His fellow MP Charles Chong added: "It would be very unfair if they come with ants and you use elephants to step on them."

Desmond Lim, assistant secretary-general of the SPP responded that the red ant represented the party's never-say-die spirit: "Ants see no obstacles. If you put a stone in front of them, they will make a detour or climb over it. We are like small ants in the political scene here. But when ants come together, they can move mountains." [ cite news | title = First white elephants, now 'red ants' show up in GRC | publisher = The Straits Times | date = 6 March 2006 | url = http://www.asiaone.com/st/st_20060306_375749.html ]

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC housed the Buangkok MRT Station where the white elephant incident took place in August 2005 when "white elephant" signs were placed in protest of the station's non-operational status. The incident prompted the government to eventually open the station in January 2006.

By-election strategy

The last three general elections in 1991, 1997, and 2001 have seen the PAP return to power on Nomination Day as the opposition parties adopted a by-election strategy and contested less than half the number of seats in these elections. For the coming election, early indications by the opposition parties suggest that more than half the seats will be contested. In a "Today" report dated 6 March 2006, Low Thia Khiang (WP) said that WP does not believe in a by-election strategy and "felt that every Singaporean should have the opportunity to vote". cite news
title = National Solidarity Party says by-election strategy not on the cards | publisher = Channel NewsAsia
date = 6 March 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/196503/1/.html
]

Chiam See Tong (SPP) said that they would campaign on a by-election strategy given a chance, but he noted that the strategy has been used before and that "it may not capture the imagination of the voters as much." cite news | title = Opposition should aim for a GRC win: Chiam | publisher = Today (Singapore newspaper) | date = 10 March 2006 | url = http://www.todayonline.com/articles/105822.asp ]

Chee Soon Juan's bankruptcy

On 10 February, Chee Soon Juan (SDP) had been declared a bankrupt by the High Court, after failing to pay S$500,000 in damages awarded to Goh and Lee. Upon this bankruptcy order, Chee was barred from standing for elections until February 2011. [ cite news| title = SDP's Chee Soon Juan declared bankrupt, cannot stand for elections till 2011 | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 10 February 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/192561/1/.html By Farah Abdul Rahim. ] Chee is already ineligible for this election because of a fine in 2002.

Jeyaretnam's potential comeback

Opposition veteran J B Jeyaretnam, former MP and secretary-general of WP, had planned to make a comeback by paying off his bankruptcy to contest the election. [ cite news | title = Singaporeans, heading for poll, say they want choices | publisher = Reuters | date = 8 March 2006 | url = http://in.today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-03-08T130351Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-239706-1.xml ] He told "Lianhe Zaobao" that he had identified some potential candidates with whom he might form a team to contest a GRC. Steve Chia welcomed this development and expressed his hope that Jeyaretnam will challenge either Lee Kuan Yew or Goh Chok Tong to keep the "big guns" busy in their own constituencies and have less time to campaign for weaker PAP candidates in other electoral divisions. However, legal troubles plaguing him undid any chances of Jeyaretnam, as the earliest he would have been discharged was in mid-June. Therefore, after nomination day, he was not found to be contesting any SMC or GRC, and thus, was not involved in this election as a candidate.

Goh Chok Tong's special assignment

On 19 March, Lee Hsien Loong said that PAP is aiming to win all the constituencies and is serious about taking over the two opposition wards in Hougang SMC and Potong Pasir SMC, saying that "We want to win, this is not masak-masak [a Malay term meaning a child's game] ". The PAP candidates for these two wards will be Eric Low and Sitoh Yih Pin respectively. Both lost in the previous elections but had been working the ground in these wards since. They were assisted by Goh Chok Tong who had been given the special assignment to help the PAP win the two wards. [ cite news | title = SM Goh to help PAP candidates win back Hougang, Potong Pasir seats | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 19 March 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/198700/1/.html ]

Goh had suggested that if Eric Low and Sitoh Yih Pin won the election, they would be given extra latitude when speaking and voting in parliament and not be subjected to the political Whip. Goh also said that he would help Sitoh to gain a post in the new Cabinet if he is elected. [ cite news | title = I'll push for Sitoh in Cabinet if he wins, vows SM Goh | date = 28 March 2006 | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/200228/1/.html ] Hougang and Potong Pasir residents were also been promised upgrades $100 and $80 million dollars if PAP manages to retake the 2 seats. Both of these constituencies have been denied the chance to upgrade their estates as well as to provide lifts that stop on every floor, for as long as they are in opposition hands. When the PAP shaved the Worker's Party's vote share from 58% to 55% in the 1997 General Election, then prime-minister Goh had offered to upgrade Hougang estate if the WP's chief's share of vote was reduced to 52%. Hougang has proved to be the most difficult opposition ward to reclaim.

Nomination forms

As of April 21, a day after the election day was announced, thirty-nine nomination forms were collected from the Elections Department office at Prinsep Street in which twenty were for Single-seat constituencies and the remaining nineteen for Group Representative Constituencies. These included eighteen applications to the Malay Community Committee and thirteen for the Indian and other minority committee. The Elections Department has also received five donation reports and declaration forms. [ cite news | title = 39 nomination forms collected a day after polls announcement | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 21 April 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/204255/1/.html ]

Remarks in "The New Democrat"

In April 2006, the SDP published an article headlined "Govt's role in the NKF scandal" in the SDP party newspaper, "The New Democrat", about the National Kidney Foundation Singapore scandal. On 22 April, letters of demand were served on twelve individuals and the publisher. Drew and Napier, the law firm acting for Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew, says that the newspaper article alleges that the two Lees are "dishonest and unfit for office", that Lee Kuan Yew "devised a corrupt political system for the benefit of the political elite", and that he managed the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation in a "corrupt manner". In addition, according to the letter of demand, the newspaper also alleged that Lee Hsien Loong had "perpetuated a corrupt political system for the benefit of the political elite" and how he and his Government "had access to the information which has now been unearthed about NKF but corruptly concealed and covered up the facts to avoid criticism". [ cite news | title = PM, MM demand apology from SDP over NKF remarks | publisher = TODAY | date = 22 April 2006 | url = http://www.todayonline.com/articles/114121.asp ] The letters demand that damages be paid and an apology made in the media by April 25. [ cite news | title = PM Lee, MM Lee demand apology from SDP for NKF remarks | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 21 April 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/204256/1/.html ]

On 22 April, the lawyer acting for the Central Executive Committee of the SDP had said that he was instructed to defend the case vigorously. [ cite news | title = SDP not apologising over alleged defamatory remarks on NKF issue | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 22 April 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/204445/1/.html ]

As of 27 April, four of SDP's eleven committee members had publicly apologised, while the chairman of the party had refused to apologise as it would constitute "an admission of guilt". An apology has been formally rejected by the party, though it would not oppose individual members from making personal apologies. M Ravi, the lawyer representing most of the accused, has rejected claims made in the letters that allegations made in the paper were "highly defamatory", and he " [does] not see how a government or public body could be defamed". On 27 April, Chee said that the threat of legal action is already seriously affecting SDP's campaign at Sembawang GRC: "Lawyers for Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong have gone as far as to sue the printer, so much so that he is so frightened he dares not publish our election material." cite news | title = SDP papers over Ling-Chee cracks | publisher = Today | date = 28 April 2006 | url = http://www.todayonline.com/articles/115309.asp ] SDP was still seen selling the publication, and the Lees are seeking aggravated damages. [ cite news | title = Chee adamant, but SDP member apologises | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = April 25 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/204776/1/.html ] [ cite news | title =Two more SDP members apologise to PM and MM | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = April 25 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/204868/1/.html ]

After Polling Day, a meeting on the defamation suit was called by Francis Yong, vice chairman of the SDP, in the SDP headquarters. As only the Chee siblings of the SDP has not yet apologised, this meeting was to persuade the two to apologise. However, the meeting ended up in failure. Lawrence Lai, member of the Centre Executive Committee, walked out after 1 hour of the meeting, while others refused to comment.

DP podcast

On 25 April, Elections Department warned SDP that it would take action against the party if they did not take down the audio files and podcasts from the party's website as it is against election advertising regulations under the Parliamentary Elections Act. Within hours after the notice was issued, SDP posted a notice on its website that the podcast service was suspended. Nonetheless as of 29 April, a podcast of an interview with J B Jeyaretnam was still accessible on the website server, although there is no hyperlink to it.

Remarks on "First World Government"

Several politicians are engaging in exchanges surrounding the phrase "First World". It started with Lee Kuan Yew (PAP) who said "We want to have a First World parliament for Singapore, so we need to have a First World government and a First World opposition. If you want us to treat you as gentlemen, argue on the merits of your policy and our policy. Take it to a higher level and we will treat you accordingly and respond accordingly."

On 24 April, Low Thia Khiang (WP) responded saying that the PAP was not a First World government, and rather that instead the Workers' Party was the hope for a First World government.

Lee then rebutted on 25 April that if the PAP did not have the capabilities of a First World government, Singapore would not have risen up to the First World standards as measured by several world bodies. He added that "The WP under Low Thia Khiang must take this opportunity, having got rid of Jeyaratnam, to begin the process of getting the WP to First World standards."

James Gomez (WP) joined in the fray on 28 April, saying "Singaporeans and Singapore are First World. There is no doubt in my mind, but it does not mean that the government and the PAP are First World. Don't claim credit. Singaporeans and Singapore are First World, and this is the message I want to leave with you today. You are First World, Singapore is First World but the PAP government is not."

In a news release posted at WP's website on 29 April, Low reiterated that PAP was not a First World government and took the opportunity to raise the issue of ministerial pay. He criticised the PAP for not "benchmarking itself politically against the matured Democracies around the world although ministers' salaries are benchmarked against international corporates' standards."

Other pre-nomination day events

On 14 January 2006, Workers' Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang revealed that the party was planning to contest in four GRCs (Ang Mo Kio, Aljunied, Sembawang, and East Coast) and in three SMCs (Nee Soon East, Joo Chiat, and Hougang). [ cite news | title = Could Worker's Party throw hat into PM's ring? | publisher = Today (Singapore newspaper) | date = 16 January 2006 | url = http://www.todayonline.com/articles/95444.asp ]

Shortly after on 18 January, the Singapore Democratic Alliance had announced its intention to field candidates in three GRCs (Tampines, Jalan Besar and Pasir Ris-Punggol) and five SMCs (Potong Pasir, Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Timah, Ayer Rajah and MacPherson). [ cite news | title = Singapore's SDA defines election targets | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 19 January 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/188902/1/.html - by Loh Chee Kong ] Sin Kek Tong, Chairman of SPP, will contest in MacPherson SMC.

On 3 March, Steve Chia, Secretary-General of National Solidarity Party (NSP) had said that the party planned to contest Chua Chu Kang SMC, Bukit Panjang SMC, and Yio Chu Kang SMC. NSP will also attempt to field a team to contest Jalan Besar GRC. [ cite news | title = NSP to contest Chua Chu Kang, Bukit Panjang, Yio Chu Kang in next GE | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 3 March 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/196081/1/.html ] Following the release of the electoral boundaries, Chia expressed disappointment that there were no three-seat or four-seat GRCs that he had suggested in a parliament session. He told "The New Paper": "The PAP still wants its MPs to hide behind GRCs. I'm not surprised. I'm disappointed." [ cite news | title = Ready, get set fight | publisher =Electric New Paper | date = 5 March 2006 | url = http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,103007,00.html ] Chia was expected to contest in Choa Chu Kang SMC again. To help fund his election campaign, Chia launched a book which documented the speeches he made in Parliament over the last four years. [ cite news | title = NSP Steve Chia to launch book to raise funds for election campaign | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 19 March 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/198716/1/.html ] Yip Yew Weng, President of NSP, will contest in Yio Chu Kang SMC.

"Lianhe Zaobao" reported that Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was planning to contest Jurong GRC, Bukit Panjang SMC and Nee Soon Central SMC. SDP's Chairman Ling How Doong had then been expected to contest in Bukit Panjang SMC. Christopher Neo Ting Wei, SDP's Assistant Treasurer, led a team to contest in Jurong GRC; among his team members were Chee Siok Chin, a member of SDP's Central Executive Committee (CEC) and sister of Chee Soon Juan.

On 6 March, "Today" reported that three people have recently left Singapore Democratic Party, including Cheo Chai Chen who was a member of parliament for Nee Soon Central from 1991 to 1997. [ cite news | title = Divide and conquer, don't butt heads: SDA | publisher = Today (Singapore newspaper) | date = 6 March 2006 | url = http://www.todayonline.com/articles/104840.asp ] Yip Yew Weng, President of NSP, said that they have joined his party.

Chiam See Tong (SPP) announced on March 9 that he would seek his sixth term as MP for Potong Pasir SMC, and denied earlier speculations that he would retire or lead a team to contest a GRC. Chiam however had noted that it was important for the opposition to capture at least one GRC explaining that "the psychological effect will be tremendous. If one stronghold is toppled, the rest may just follow like falling dominoes." Chiam is expected to face the challenge of PAP candidate Sitoh Yih Pin again in the Potong Pasir contest.

On 4 March, Lim Boon Heng, Chairman of PAP, said that at least a quarter of the party's candidates would be new faces. [ cite news | title = PAP chairman says list of who stands where in GE not finalised yet | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 4 March 2006 | url =http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/196202/1/.html ] The PAP had also not finalised their candidates list at this point. Lim Hwee Hua (PAP), MP for Marine Parade GRC for the Serangoon Gardens district, ended up contesting in the Aljunied GRC due to changes made in the electoral boundaries. Aljunied GRC faced the possibility of a rare contest that would involve three women politicians: Lim Hwee Hua, Cynthia Phua (PAP), and Sylvia Lim (WP).

Ooi Boon Ewe, a property executive who contested in Joo Chiat SMC in 2001 as an independent, had said that he is forming a new political party and that he would contest in either Joo Chiat, Yio Chu Kang, or Chua Chu Kang SMC.

Post-nomination day to election day events

These are the events that started from post-nomination day to election day of Singapore general election, 2006 with information of the events of political parties, candidates and highlights during the campaigning period from 27 April to 6 May 2006.

Election rallies

On 27 April 2006, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) released a list of 24 sites for election rallies scheduled to be held from 28 April to 5 May. All sites were for evening rallies that were scheduled to occur from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., except for a "Lunchtime Rally Site" at Boat Quay next to UOB Plaza. [ cite web| title = Media Release - Election Meeting Sites | date = 27 April 2006| publisher = Singapore Police Force | url = http://www.spf.gov.sg/mediarelease/2006/2006.htm# ]

Outdoor election meetings were required to be licensed by permits, and were issued by the SPF Police Election Meetings Office on a first-come-first-serve basis, starting from 27 April. Since the morning of 26 April, more than 20 people, agents of the parties and candidates, were seen gathered at the office preparing to queue overnight for the permits.

List of election rallies


On 28 April, the first election rally for the People's Action Party, whose symbol featured a lightning bolt, was forced a change in venue from Serangoon Stadium to an indoor location, due to heavy rain and lightning.

Reactions to nomination day

When nominations were completed, opposition parties had successfully contested more than half the seats. The PAP was thus denied a walkover majority to form a government on nomination day, the first time since 1988. Lee Hsien Loong's response stated that he was happy that there were many opposition candidates contesting in the election, and said it is good for the maturation of Singapore's political system. [ cite news | url = http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-04/27/content_4483135.htm | title = More contests in general election good for Singapore: PM | date = 27 April 2006 | publisher = Xinhuanet.com ] He accepted the challenge from the opposition saying that "we [the PAP] don't have a majority, so we will fight this election." Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim said that her party would fight for more seats in parliament but did not expect to topple the PAP government. "There is no way the opposition will win every seat they contest," she said. cite news | url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/27/AR2006042700127.html | title = Singapore ruling PAP denied walkover election win | publisher = Washington Post | date = 27 April 2006 ] Steve Chia (NSP) had said earlier that the SDA's aim was to win 15 seats and form a shadow cabinet, to provide effective scrutiny for the government. [ cite news| title = Singapore's election - A rational choice | url = http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displayStory.cfm?story_id=6838543 | date = 20 April 2006 | publisher = The Economist ]

The Workers' Party had put up their strongest team, consisting of its more prominent candidates led by Chairman Sylvia Lim, to contest Aljunied GRC challenging the PAP team led by George Yeo. This constituency eventually featured one of the fiercest contests in the election. At the same time, Workers' Party fielded a very young team in Ang Mo Kio GRC, with candidates mostly in their 20s or early 30s, to compete with the flagship PAP team led by Lee Hsien Loong. [ cite news | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/205258/1/.html | title = The straight-forward fight | date = 27 April 2006 | publisher = Channel NewsAsia ]

For the SDA, its strongest GRC team was one that contested Jalan Besar GRC, and it was led by Sebastian Teo and included a former MP Cheo Chai Chen.

Hotly contested SMCs were:
* Chua Chu Kang - Gan Kim Yong (PAP) vs Steve Chia Kiah Hong (SDA)
* Hougang - Eric Low Siak Meng (PAP) vs Low Thia Khiang (WP)
* Nee Soon East - Ho Peng Kee (PAP) vs Poh Lee Guan (WP)
* Potong Pasir - Chiam See Tong (SDA) vs Sitoh Yih Pin (PAP)

Ling's comment controversy

According to media reports, on 27 April at Fajar Secondary School Nomination Centre, Ling How Doong had told the media that he and Wong Hong Toy, SDP assistance secretary-general who was with Ling at that time, had considered an ouster of Chee Soon Juan from the party's central executive committee (CEC).

This was later denied on the same day by a media release on the SDP website which claimed that the local media is "waging a campaign against SDP". [ cite web | url = http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/mediareleaseGE9.html | publisher = Singapore Democratic Party | date= 27 April 2006 | title = Media Release: Local media waging a campaign against SDP ]

On the same day, the SDP held a press conference and clearly denied any splits in the party. Mr Ling was not at the press conference.

Negative campaigning

Since nomination day, the PAP had stepped up its negative campaigning effort against the opposition. Lee Kuan Yew (PAP) had referred the opposition as not having "First World" quality and described some of their candidates as of poor quality and lacking in "intellectual content". He repeated his attack on 28 April saying "I want a world-class opposition, not this riffraff." [ cite news | title = Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew describes political opposition as 'riffraff' | date = 29 April 2006 | publisher = China Post | url = http://www.chinapost.com.tw/i_latestdetail.asp?id=37874 ]

Lim Boon Heng (PAP) said that the SDP is already being written off by Singaporeans. [ cite news | title = Singaporeans have written off SDP: PAP chairman | publisher = Channel NewsAsia |date = 28 April 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/205460/1/.html ] Lee Hsien Loong said the opposition had no clear vision or views on Singapore's major challenges. [ cite news | title = Singapore abuzz with election fever as campaigning starts | publisher = Channel NewsAsia |date = 28 April 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/205531/1/.html ]

On 29 April 2006, Lee Hsien Loong referred to his opponents at Ang Mo Kio GRC, the relatively young WP team, as "敢死队" (suicide squad) adding that even the bookies will not take a bet on the outcome in that constituency contest. [ cite news| url = http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,105715,00.html | title = PM Lee comes out boxing | publisher = Electric New Paper| date = 29 April 2006 ]

In response, Mr Low Thia Kiang of the WP said that it is better to be a "敢死队" (suicide squad) rather than a "怕死队" (squad that is scared to die). WP's candidate Yaw Shin Leong added that: "my courageous team-mates and myself are mentally prepared to lose but that does not mean we are push-overs." [ cite news | title = WP team for Ang Mo Kio GRC prepared to lose to PM Lee's team | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 30 April 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/205675/1/.html ]

James Gomez saga

Controversy arose during the election surrounding the application for a minority-race candidate certificate by James Gomez of Workers' Party. On the 24 April, Gomez went to the Elections Department to fill up the minority-race candidate certificate application form accompanied by the chairperson Sylvia Lim. Instead of handing in the application form to election official, Gomez slipped the form in his bag. At the time, Sylvia Lim had gone to a waiting area and did not witness the event. However, on the eve of Nomination Day, James Gomez went to collect his minority-race candidate certificate claiming he had submitted the application form. Following two days of dispute between both sides, the Elections Department was able to produce video evidence showing that James Gomez did not submit the application form; a day later, James Gomez apologised to the Elections Department saying he was distracted by his busy schedule.

During the controversy, PAP raised questions about the credibility of James Gomez. He was also accused of attempting to discredit the Elections Department by claiming they misplaced the form. Despite not having enough concrete video or audio evidence, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew called James Gomez a "liar" and Lee Kuan Yew dared Gomez to sue him and Wong Kan Seng. [ cite news | title = MM Lee says Gomez is a liar, a bad egg in Workers' Party | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 2 May 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/206150/1/.html ] George Yeo (PAP) also suggested that the Worker's Party should sack Gomez and field a four-member team for the five-member Group Representation Constituency. [ cite news | title = Lose Gomez and get back on track: FM Yeo to WP | publisher = Channel NewsAsia | date = 4 May 2006 | url = http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/206457/1/.html ]

Party political broadcast

On both 29 April 2006 and 4 May 2006, the four contesting parties made their political broadcasts over television and radio in the four official languages — the English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil languages. Each party was given an allocated time based on the number of candidates it fielded. The People's Action Party (PAP) was given 12 minutes with 84 candidates fielded, the Workers' Party (WP) and Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) were given 4.5 minutes each with 20 candidates fielded, and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was given 2.5 minutes with 7 candidates fielded. The English broadcasts are available on the Internet at www.youtube.com.

DP broadcast

The SDP was represented by Chee Siok Chin on both days. Chee said that while the ministers were enjoying high salaries, the lowest income group in Singapore were facing greater financial burden compounded by increasing cost of living. She said that financial difficulty has contributed to higher divorce, suicide rates and increase in bankruptcy filed in recent years.

Chee declared in the 4 May broadcast that the Ministers were paying themselves the highest political salaries in the world. She also declared that the PAP is trying to undermine the SDP, but the SDP will stand strong.

WP broadcast

The WP was represented by its Chairman Sylvia Lim in 29 April. Lim said that the Workers' Party has a committed group of candidates in this election to pursue greater democracy in Singapore. She criticised the PAP for using taxpayers' money to selective upgrade constituencies that voted for the PAP. She called this a narrow-minded and divisive policy, and it encourages voters to act on self-interests instead of national interests. She added that this threatened to split the fabric of the nation, and run contrary to the spirit of national service that calls for personal sacrifice. She further labelled this as a a time bomb and that it set a bad precedent on how the government allocates public funds and service. She asked voters not to succumb to the threat of the PAP, and to vote for the opposition needed to press the government on other important policies such as containing the cost of transport, utility and healthcare.

Lim also criticised the PAP for using public funding to give bonuses before election, calling it a populist budget. She also point out that the PAP had used its position as the government to entrench and promote the party through public funded grassroots organisations. She questioned whether PAP is a first world government, which she said should put national interests ahead of party interests, and operate on a level playing field.

Tan Hui Hua represented the WP on 4 May.

DA broadcast

SDA's Secretary-general, Chiam See Tong, read the party's political broadcast on both 29 April and 4 May. Chiam pointed out that in this election, the PAP is aiming to win all seats. He asked voters whether they want a one-party system. Chiam argued that a multi-party system would be needed for democracy to survive in Singapore, and that a free Singapore with room for diverse views and opinions would be necessary for the social, cultural and political well-being of the people. Chiam urged the people to act decisively to vote for the opposition, to ensure that Singapore would not degenerate into a one-party state. He said that "a vibrant and cosmopolitan Singapore needs creativity of the mind" and that "these can only flourish in an atmosphere of freedom and an environment where there is no fear." He reminded viewers of the old saying, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

PAP broadcast

PAP's political broadcast was read by its Secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong on 29 April. Lee highlighted the successes of the PAP government since the last election, especially in creating jobs, reducing unemployment, retraining workers, and investing in young people. He argued that the strategies were working and economy was striving, and that PAP had united the people under the threat of terrorism. He reminded viewers that Singapore would have great opportunities as well as major challenges ahead as Asia was rising, and the PAP would make Singapore a land of opportunity for all people, and each person could find his or her own niche and excel. He said that the government would educate each Singaporean to be the best they can be.

Lee said that the country must ensure that as it progresses, that no one is left behind, and to help those who have difficulty keeping up. He gives this reason for implementing the progress package that was given out. Lee said that the PAP government would take care of older Singaporeans and help them work longer. PAP would install elevators on every floor of every HDB block, make the city barrier free and transport system wheelchair friendly.

He continued to say that the PAP would make medical care more affordable, and the coverage of Medisave would be extended. He said these strategies would improve the lives of all Singaporeans and help create a fair and just society and a safe and harmonious community. He added that the PAP is the best team assembled; it is a diverse team with candidates committed to serve. He asked viewers for support, to help build a nation where every person could develop himself to the fullest and everyone contributed to "this vibrant city".

Debate on housing and lift upgrading

The upgrading of public housing, including the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), is a major issue in this election. As in previous elections, the PAP had tied the scheduling of housing upgrades to the number of votes the party received in the election. The PAP argues that government is successful in raising the standard of living in the country, and those who support its various policies, including the upgrading, should be given priority. In the hotly contested Aljunied GRC, George Yeo (PAP) has placed lift upgrading the "top of [his] priority list" so that the lift would stop on every floor in as many blocks as possible. [http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=194807]

Sylvia Lim (WP) accused the PAP of being selective in its upgrading programmes, arguing that this is a divisive policy. [http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=194807]

Large turnout at opposition election rallies

The election featured large turnouts at some of the election rallies of the opposition parties, which was unheard of since the 1980s. A report by Malaysian press "The Star" estimated that around 10,000 people attended the Workers' Party rally on 30 April at Hougang. At the last rally of the Workers' Party at Serangoon Stadium on 5 May, the audience filled up most of the field and even spilled outside the stadium.

The PAP dismissed the significance of the crowds, saying that it does not necessarily translate into votes.

References


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