SINGAPORE – For the second general election in a row, there will be contests in all seats, of which there are 93 this time.
Nomination Day on Tuesday (June 30) saw a total of 192 candidates file papers to contest every seat in 17 group representation constituencies (GRCs) and 14 single-member constituencies (SMCs). With no walkovers, it means all 2.65 million eligible voters will soon receive polling cards to let them vote on July 10.
The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is the only party with candidates contesting every seat.
Though the day was missing some of the atmosphere of previous Nomination Days, as no crowds were allowed to gather on account of safe distancing rules, there was still some drama and surprises.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has moved from his Tampines stronghold to anchor the PAP team in East Coast GRC, answering one of the biggest question marks leading up to Nomination Day.
He replaces former Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who is retiring from politics.
Mr Heng’s team is likely to see a keen battle against the Workers’ Party (WP), which won 45.2 per cent of the vote in the 2011 General Election and 39.3 per cent in 2015.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee moved from Jurong GRC to shore up the PAP team in West Coast GRC, helmed by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.
They will go head to head against the Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) “A” team led by former PAP stalwart Tan Cheng Bock, whose former Ayer Rajah ward is now part of West Coast GRC.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters the PAP will fight for every vote. “Every constituency is contested, so this is not a by-election. It’s a general election for the most important issues concerning the country at the moment of crisis. And I think everybody needs to understand that, everybody must have that in mind when they assess the votes,” he said at the nomination centre at Deyi Secondary School.
Asked if he had a target in mind for the polls, PM Lee said he did not. “I never have a numerical target for an election. We go in, we give it our all, we fight for every vote. And when you open the ballot boxes, you will know how the voters have decided,” he added.
At least three SMC contests will be closely watched – Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Punggol West.
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan will have a rematch against PAP incumbent Murali Pillai in Bukit Batok while, in a surprise move, party chairman Paul Tambyah will challenge PAP’s Liang Eng Hwa in Bukit Panjang.
WP new face Tan Chen Chen will challenge PAP incumbent Sun Xueling in Punggol West.
One GRC – Pasir Ris-Punggol – will see a three-cornered fight between the PAP, Peoples Voice (PV) and Singapore Democratic Alliance.
There will be a three-way battle in Pioneer SMC as well, between the PAP’s Patrick Tay, the PSP’s Lim Cher Hong and independent candidate Cheang Peng Wah.
The PSP has the largest contingent among the opposition parties this round, with 24 candidates.
The WP is fielding 21 candidates, followed by the SDP with 11 candidates and the National Solidarity Party and the PV with 10 each.
PSP member Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged brother of PM Lee, will not be contesting this election.
Though he had campaigned actively, posting videos and joining walkabouts in recent days, his name was not on any nomination papers after nominations closed.
Among the PAP’s 27 new faces, two will be fielded in newly carved out single seats – former Republic of Singapore Air Force brigadier-general Gan Siow Huang in Marymount SMC, and former group chief of the Silver Generation Office Yip Hon Weng in Yio Chu Kang SMC.
This coming election will see PM Lee lead the PAP into battle for the fourth, and what looks set to be the final, time as prime minister.
The 2006 General Election, the first led by PM Lee, saw the PAP get 66.6 per cent of the popular vote. The ruling party saw its vote share fall to 60.1 per cent in the 2011 election, but rebounded to secure 69.9 per cent of the vote in 2015.
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