'It's crunch time': Opposition parties react to GE2020 announcement, WP puts up video featuring Nicole Seah
SINGAPORE: Several of Singapore's opposition parties were quick to respond when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called an election on Tuesday (Jun 23) afternoon, with The Workers' Party (WP) putting up a video on Facebook featuring a slate of fresh faces, as well as a few familiar ones.
After PM Lee's national broadcast, the Elections Department announced that President Halimah Yacob had dissolved Parliament and issued the Writ of Election. Nomination Day is set for Jun 30 and Singapore will go to the polls on Jul 10.
WP's Facebook post was simply captioned: "GE2020: Coming Soon."
The video offered brief glimpses of 12 faces in total, including WP chairman Sylvia Lim, organising secretary Dennis Tan, former National Solidarity Party election candidate Nicole Seah and a new face - Ms Raeesah Khan, the founder of non-profit organisation Reyna Movement.
Also spotted: Ms Lee Li Lian, who is tipped to run in Sengkang GRC, economics professor Jamus Lim, lawyer Fadli Fawzi, Ms Cheryl Loh and Mr Kenneth Foo, who contested in Nee Soon GRC in 2015, as well as youth wing exco member Yudhishthra Nathan.
The last two faces in the video were of Mr Leon Perera, who heads WP's youth wing, and secretary-general Pritam Singh.
A few prominent party members were not featured, including former chief Low Thia Khiang, former Aljunied GRC MPs Chen Show Mao and Faisal Manap, as well as potential candidates Gerald Giam and Yee Jenn Jong.
Meanwhile, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan put out a Facebook post to confirm he will be running in Bukit Batok SMC and to call for support.
"My friends, the Writ of Election has been issued. It’s crunch time. I’ll be doing battle again at Bukit Batok and I hope that you will give me your support as you have all these years," he said.
SDP chairman Paul Ananth Tambyah accused the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of putting its own political wellbeing ahead of Singaporeans’ safety by calling an election in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but nevertheless said his party was ready to contest the polls.
“We have been preparing for early elections for more than a year since our campaign launched in February 2019,” he said in a media release later on Tuesday.
“The writ has thus come as no surprise and we are ready to present our case to the people of Singapore for a fairer and more just society. We are used to the uneven playing field but this time the PAP has outdone itself by banning rallies, limiting ground campaigns and totally monopolising the state media for broadcasts of their agenda.
“We can only hope that Singaporeans will be able to see through these machinations to recognise that this is a unique opportunity to send the PAP a message, to deny them a two thirds majority and to make sure that they finally start to listen to the voices of ordinary Singaporeans so a crisis like this is never repeated again.”
The Singapore People's Party (SPP) said it was looking forward to the election, having earlier announced that it would stand in Potong Pasir and in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
"The possibility of a General Election has been on the cards for some time," said SPP chairman Jose Raymond.
"In terms of our outreach in Potong Pasir, work began three years ago and we are looking forward to the contest, in an area which we hold close to our hearts."
READ: In full - PM Lee's speech on advising President Halimah to dissolve Parliament, issue Writ of Election
He added that the party aims to reach out to as many residents as possible, including in Bishan-Toa Payoh, and will conduct campaigning "given that we aren't out of the woods yet in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic".
The Progress Singapore Party, which earlier announced that it would contest eight constituencies, said on Facebook: "Progress Singapore Party, under the steady leadership of our Secretary-General Dr Tan Cheng Bock, is ready to serve Singaporeans and fight for the future that we all deserve."
The National Solidarity Party said it welcomed Mr Lee's call to dissolve Parliament.
"This General Election is not just an election to choose a government that can respond to crises such as COVID-19. But also one that has checks and balances by opposition parties. A government that is responsible, transparent, honest and accountable to Singaporeans. Vote wisely," it said on Facebook.
People's Power Party chief Goh Meng Seng contended that Nomination Day should be delayed for overseas candidates to return to Singapore.
"It should be at least 14 days for potential candidates overseas to make their way back for Nomination Day from today. In view of COVID-19, we should not put our citizens' health at risk just for this GE," he said.
Mr Goh, who led a team to contest Chua Chu Kang GRC in 2015, earlier said that he would be contesting in an SMC this election due to "some technicality in getting one of our key potential candidates back from overseas".
Additional reporting by Cindy Co and Lydia Lam.