SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan asked voters to pay no attention to “mudslinging”, as the party headed into the final day of campaigning on Wednesday (Jul 8).
He was speaking to the media outside Fajar Shopping Centre, one of the stops in the SDP’s tour of the five constituencies it is contesting in.
“If you pay attention to mudslinging, how does it help you? You’re not going to address any of the issues. On the last day, tune out anything on the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) personal attacks, just focus on the issues,” Dr Chee said.
He is contesting in Bukit Batok SMC against the PAP’s Murali Pillai.
Reflecting on the nine days of campaigning, SDP chairman Paul Tambyah said that the party ran “a really outstanding campaign”, with online rallies and question and answer sessions.
“We have been forced to operate under very very unusual circumstances - we’ve had no rallies, we’ve had no large walkabouts,” he added.
“We had to talk to people through a mask and talking to elderly they don’t understand what we're saying because they’re used to lip reading.”
Dr Tambyah said his biggest regret this election is the “inability of the PAP” to engage SDP on issues.
“The first thing we wanted to do is talk about 4Y1N and then they went into a weird thing about ... the Straits Times article,” he said.
He was referring to the exchanges between the PAP and SDP during a live political debate last week when Dr Chee claimed that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had been “toying with the idea” of increasing Singapore’s population to 10 million. The National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) had refuted that claim earlier in the day.
The subject of population is one of the pillars of the SDP’s 4Y1N (4 Yes 1 No) election campaign, with the “1 No” referring to a population size of 10 million in Singapore.
After the debate, Dr Chee repeated the claim in a Facebook post linking to a Straits Times report of a dialogue that Mr Heng had with Nanyang Technological University students in March last year.
“When they (the PAP) talked about COVID-19, Dr Tan Cheng Bock and I offered to debate with Minister Chan Chun Sing, and then he wanted to know what we were going to say,” added Dr Tambyah, who is contesting in Bukit Panjang SMC.
“It’s so typical of PAP - they can’t go into a fight without knowing the opponent’s strategy and what they’re going to do.”
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In response to the request for a debate, Mr Chan had said in a Facebook post on Sunday: “Why not present their plans to the voters now on how they intend to help Singapore and Singaporeans get through this most serious health and economic crisis in decades?”
Dr Tambyah, an infectious diseases expert, told reporters on Wednesday: "The Prime Minister has asked for what the opposition parties are doing about COVID and if he was not so disconnected, he would have known that for the past few months, we have been giving comments, suggestions, we've also said explicitly that holding an election during a pandemic is really reckless and dangerous."
Also present at the interview was SDP’s Holland-Bukit Timah team, which comprises political scientist James Gomez, marketing communications professional Min Cheong, businessman Alfred Tan and former presidential candidate Tan Jee Say.
They are up against Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, lawyer Christopher De Souza, Senior Minister of State Sim Ann and first-time candidate Edward Chia.
“Let me tell the residents, let us be your voice in Parliament. I think it is too long a time when we hear one’s party voice,” said Mr Alfred Tan.
His teammate Ms Cheong also urged voters to “think critically” and examine what the SDP has presented.
“Delve deep, trust your intuition, look at the candidates and what they bring to the table," she said.