Singapore GE2020: Parties in the west pitch plans to voters

Political parties fanned out across the western part of Singapore yesterday, knocking on doors and walking the ground from as early as 7am to woo voters and highlight upgrading plans for their estates.

Some candidates crossed paths with their opponents but kept things civil, snapping photos with supporters in the coffee shops and markets that have become their stomping grounds.

While on the campaign trail, PAP candidate Ang Wei Neng highlighted healthcare services and infrastructure improvements in the works for West Coast GRC, where he is contesting.

The plans include a medical escort service for vulnerable elderly living alone as well as covered walkways, said Mr Ang, who is expected to serve in the Nanyang ward in Jurong West if elected.

Speaking to reporters during a walkabout in Jurong West yesterday morning, Mr Ang said a free one-year medical teleconsulting service for 1,000 lower-income residents in the ward may be expanded to the rest of the GRC if it proves popular.

He demurred, however, when asked to comment on his opponents. The PAP West Coast team, which comprises Mr Ang, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, Ms Foo Mee Har and Ms Rachel Ong, is facing off against a Progress Singapore Party (PSP) team led by former PAP MP Tan Cheng Bock.

Dr Tan was spotted with party member Lee Hsien Yang, the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and PSP candidates from Tanjong Pagar GRC and Kebun Baru SMC at ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre in Jalan Bukit Merah yesterday.

He told reporters he has been going on numerous walkabouts in constituencies other than West Coast GRC in the first half of the campaign to give a boost to the candidates there. “I am the leader. So I must support all my candidates,” he said.

Dr Tan and Mr Lee Hsien Yang interacted with diners and stall holders at the market, where they bumped into Mr Eric Chua, a PAP candidate for Tanjong Pagar GRC. They chatted briefly, before continuing on their way.

Asked if his lack of focus on West Coast GRC shows that he is already confident of winning there, Dr Tan said: “No, no, no. We never take for granted.”

He added that he has walked the ground in West Coast GRC a few times in the past few days, and did a mix of market and house visits away from the media spotlight.

Apart from physical campaigning, some candidates have also stepped up their digital outreach, using social media, Zoom and messaging platforms to reach voters amid social distancing restrictions.

Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann, who is running for a third term in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, has been uploading daily snippets of her walkabouts and comments from residents she meets to her Facebook page.

Ms Sim, who visited residents in Watten Estate, Clementi and Toh Yi yesterday, told The Straits Times (ST) that residents in the Bukit Timah ward where she has served since 2011 can look forward to more improvements. In Watten Estate, for example, more footpaths will be created, while common facilities in Clementi will be refurbished.

“We will also continue with our plans to rebuild and combine the Bukit Timah CC and market, although we would have to do some redesigning to better accommodate safe distancing,” she said.

“The residents don’t hesitate to tell me what they think of me or how I run the ward, and that’s how I improve,” she added.

Singapore Democratic Party candidate Robin Low, an entrepreneur who is contesting Yuhua SMC, told ST during home visits yesterday that the lack of physical rallies is a big challenge. He has covered about 14 residential blocks so far, and is also reaching out to voters through online videos.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu also went door to door yesterday in Yuhua SMC, where she has served for the past 14 years.

Ms Fu said she will be looking at improving last-mile facilities for seniors if re-elected. This would include “making sure everything is barrier-free so they can reach a taxi in the carpark, or for an ambulance to come in”, she said.

About 8,000 residents, or 25 per cent of the ward, are aged above 60.

Over in Jurong West yesterday, Ms Liyana Dhamirah, Mr Alec Tok and Mr Ravi Philemon from Red Dot United (RDU) spent the evening giving out fliers and introducing themselves to residents.

The three are part of the slate to contest the five-member Jurong GRC, which is the only constituency the party is fielding candidates in.

The RDU candidates ran into PAP candidate Shawn Huang and they exchanged pleasantries.

Mr Ravi, who is the secretary-general of RDU, said that he and his teammates have been walking the ground for the past few days.

“If you go by the sentiments expressed online, you would think that Jurong is a graveyard right, and that we are coming here to die,” said Mr Ravi, referring to how Jurong GRC was the best performing ward by the PAP during the previous election, winning nearly 80 per cent of the vote.

“But when we walk the ground it’s not so bad. People do welcome us, they encourage us, want to take pictures with us and say that they support us.”

• Additional reporting by Fabian Koh, Lim Min Zhang, Michelle Ng, Hariz Baharudin

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