Singapore GE2020: No physical rallies but parties get creative with plushies, figurines and flags

SINGAPORE – From cute plushies to clay figurines and flags that can be attached to car windows, the various political parties have gotten creative with their merchandising for this year’s general election.

While the global pandemic may shape the contest at the polls, it also means the election will be devoid of the atmosphere of physical rallies, which will instead see party political broadcasts aired on national TV.

But the various political parties will still be selling party paraphernalia and merchandise.

Unlike previous years though, where merchandise could be purchased at rally sites or party headquarters, restrictions on movements mean they can now typically be purchased only online – with a three-day wait for delivery.

The Workers’ Party, for instance, has a dedicated e-store offering functional items like umbrellas ($13 and $16), caps ($15) and tote bags ($20) in their signature sky blue colourway.

Besides the usual staples of pins, flags and T-shirts, several parties are also banking on mascots.

The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) Danny the Democracy Bear mascot makes a return in soft toy form and three colours (yellow, pink or brown), retailing at $22.

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has its Otica the otter mascot, which has been making appearances at walkabouts.

Dubbed the party’s “Chief Compassion Officer”, Otica’s name is an acronym for the party’s core values of openness, transparency, independence, compassion and accountability.

In an Instagram story on June 25, the PSP shared that they are “making plans for Otica to be available for public purchase”.

“However, no thanks to the Political Donations Act’s rules, every time we sell one Otica, we have to collect all your particulars to ensure that you are Singaporean and fulfil all the criteria to donate – because purchasing Otica is considered a donation,” the post said.

The law seeks to prevent foreigners from interfering in Singapore’s domestic politics through funding of candidates and political associations, and requires receipts to be issued by recipients of cash donations – among other rules.

One of the more unique memorabilia items available for sale is a $90 handmade clay figurine of Singapore People’s Party (SPP) chairman Jose Raymond, who will be contesting the single-seat ward of Potong Pasir.

A resident of the constituency gave him the idea, said Mr Raymond, 49.

“I thought it was a rather neat idea to have a mini figurine which people could keep as (a) memory of the campaign we fought in the estate this year, especially since there is an interesting history behind why I am standing as a candidate in Potong Pasir SMC,” he added.

He said after his family lost their home in Jurong West in 1991, former SPP chief Chiam See Tong personally helped them by writing a cheque to the Housing Board to pay a deposit for a smaller flat, even though they were not residents of Potong Pasir.

Mr Chiam was then MP of Potong Pasir and the secretary-general of the SDP.

So far, five of the 25 figurines available have been sold, mostly to Potong Pasir residents. All money collected from the sales of merchandise will be “used to help residents”.

As for the People’s Action Party (PAP), a spokesman said: “Our PAP branches may be distributing memorabilia at the branch level.”

“The Party and our candidates will adhere to the prevailing guidelines as laid out by the Multi-Ministry Task Force and Elections Department for any activities involving public interaction”.

Online marketplaces like Carousell and Shopee are stocking everything from inflatable yellow hammers in the style of WP’s logo to PAP car decals.

It remains to be seen if the face mask will make an appearance among the merchandise during this election period.

Asked if SPP has such plans, Mr Raymond said: “There are no other plans for merchandising as we are now in the midst of the campaign proper.”

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