The common concerns articulated by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) members at their walkabout at Tanglin Halt on Sunday (28 June) were the constraints they have to work with given the short amount of time, dubiety of campaign structure and rules, and mostly on the fairness of the General Election (GE).
PSP’s Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Lee Hsien Yang, Michael Chua, and A’bas Bin Kasmani sat down with the media and shared the challenges they are experiencing. Mr Chua said that they have “very little time to walk the grounds” given the rapid transition from “circuit-breaker to Phase 1 to Phase 2, and then to the issuement of the Writ of Election”.
“It’s (challenging) to reach out to the demographic who are busy earning their living in the day. We can only go door-to-door in the evenings from 7pm – 9pm and that’s as much hours as we will get to engage the residents,” he shared.
However, that is the most effective way Mr Chua felt they could connect with their constituents, given that the GE is being held in the midst of a pandemic, and the limited period they have between the announcement of GE and voting day.
Dr Tan echoed these concerns, touching on the context of the media rallies. “The constraints for us on a national level (and) on a constituency level are really there. All the broadcast time (3 minutes) is so short – (you can) hardly say a few words and then (it’s over),” he said.
“And the worst thing that caught my attention was I had to submit all my scripts (48 hours) before the broadcast speeches… my god… People’s Action Party (PAP) is going to know what I’m going to say,” Dr Tan commented.
He plans to write an article on his Facebook page about how these broadcast rally regulations are unfair, as he does not understand how PAP can still “play this (rhetoric) to Singaporeans that this is a fair election”.
Mr Chua also vocalised that the campaign structure of the broadcast rallies is “not innovative”, proposing a live debate between parties as a more effective way of introducing candidates and allowing Singaporeans to compare and contrast each party’s policies.
He added, “It’s the same pattern and concept of candidates (sharing) their thoughts (within) 3 minutes of airtime. PAP prides themselves in being innovative and this is something new and unprecedented; (so) why are we not considering other alternative ways (in doing) this?”
Lee Hsien Yang summed up the common thoughts of his fellow members on the fairness of the elections, saying, “There have been extensive reports, including a group of ASEAN politicians, basically calling out that this is an unfair election. The Economist had an article saying how the election is stacked against the alternative parties; this year it is just being stacked more.”
He cited some examples such as PAP Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong using a series of speeches on primetime airtime to share PAP’s policy manifesto when apparently he was supposed to cover issues of COVID-19.
Mr Lee also questioned the rule of submitting scripts. “I’m not sure what the purpose of submitting rally speeches ahead of time is. We were told this at the last minute. (Is PAP) going to say (we) can’t say certain things? But if you say it, (aren’t) you the one responsible for it?” he asked.
He hopes that Singaporeans can “see through this and recognise that the game is an uneven playing field, and that they will compensate for it in the way they respond and in their votes”.