SINGAPORE – The nine-day general election campaign period has been a hectic one, with candidates working hard on the ground and online to win the hearts and minds of voters.
There were some heartwarming and humorous moments too. Here is a look back at the more light-hearted side of the campaign trail, featuring food, songs, animals and gifts.
1. You are what you eat, so what were candidates eating?
In the last week, you may have felt a shadow looming over you while you enjoyed a meal at your local kopitiam.
Chances are it was yet another politician hovering around to ask for your vote (hopefully from a safe distance).
But before you grumble about your disturbed meal, spare a thought for democracy – and for the candidate, who probably does not have enough time to enjoy the delicious hawker fare he or she sees while on a walkabout. Here are some of the food and drinks candidates had while on the campaign trail.
The PAP team in Tampines GRC – Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Mr Baey Yam Keng, Ms Cheng Li Hui and Mr Desmond Choo – had breakfast snacks such as beancurd together before setting off on their walkabout at the weekend.
Spending long hours on the ground, Workers’ Party candidate for Marine Parade GRC Dylan Ng had black chicken soup, which a secondary school friend gave him, for nourishment.
PSP candidates in Nee Soon GRC Damien Tay and S. Nallakaruppan squeezed in lunch at Chong Pang City Wet Market and Food Centre, where they ate with party chief Tan Cheng Bock and member Lee Hsien Yang.
Most candidates have been making their rounds at wet markets and food centres, and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said he’s “proud of our hawker food in East Coast and (Singapore)!” He managed to take a short tea break in the midst of campaigning and had a healthy snack – soya bean milk and red bean pancake (mee chiang kueh).
Mr Kenneth Foo, who is part of the WP team squaring off against the PAP team led by Mr Heng in East Coast GRC, had a meal of Teochew porridge at a hawker centre in Bedok North, fuelling up for the last day of campaigning.
WP chairman Sylvia Lim, who was on a morning walkabout with the the party’s Aljunied GRC team and retiring MP Low Thia Khiang on the last day of campaigning, bought snacks from Old Chang Kee for breakfast.
Mr Amrin Amin, who is part of the PAP team contesting in Sengkang GRC, took an ice cream break while conducting house visits. “Nothing like a cool ice cream while on a ‘hot Sengkang contest’,” he said in his Facebook post.
2. Politicians, poets, or singers?
It should come as no surprise that politicians are good with words, but some are taking it to the next literary level with verse and rhyme.
WP candidate for Marine Parade GRC Fadli Fawzi made a strong first impression with his pantun, a Malay poetic form, delivered during his speech on Nomination Day.
Segarlah kuntum menanti kembang (Fresh is the bud that waits for the bloom)
Nyalakan api azamu kawan (So light the fires in your will, my friend)
Walau dilanda ribut nan kencang (The fiercest of storms may gather and loom)
Parti Pekerja tetap berlawan (But the Workers’ Party will fight till the end)
The ruling party’s new candidate for Sembawang GRC Poh Li San also penned a poem, which she said was on the PAP’s manifesto.
It included several plays on the initials PAP – “Peace And Prosperity”, “Progress And Prosper”, and perhaps more puzzlingly, “Pain And Panic” – though in fairness, that last one was to describe a world disrupted by Covid-19.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo appealed to the senior and dialect-speaking Chinese folks in Jalan Besar GRC, where she is the PAP’s new anchor candidate, by singing a popular Cantonese song.
On a Facebook show, Mrs Teo and fellow team member Heng Chee How sang 两忘烟水里 (Losing Ourselves in the Watery Mists), a popular Hong Kong martial arts drama serial theme song by Susanna Kwan and Michael Kwan (at the roughly 34min mark).
WP also has its dialect-proficient candidates, with both Ms Lim and new face Nicole Seah choosing the perennial Hokkien crowd-pleaser Ai Piah Cia Eh Yiah (No Winning Without Striving) to start off their introductory videos.
The song seems to be a favourite of the WP – whose members including party chief Pritam Singh have sung it at past Chinese New Year dinners – and also of Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who analysed its verses in a speech on Tuesday.
3. 7 otters and a ‘doorbell duck’: Animal encounters on walkabouts
While only human Singaporeans can be candidates or voters, animals have also been participating actively in the hustings.
Mr Darryl David, who is a PAP candidate for Ang Mo Kio GRC, tickled Facebook users with a video of him “ringing” one resident’s “doorbell duck” during his visit on Sunday.
“Who needs a doorbell when you have a rubber duck! Why not give it a squeeze just for good luck!” he wrote in the post.
As WP candidate Yee Jenn Jong was making his rounds in Marine Parade GRC, he spotted seven otters taking a morning swim in a canal in Telok Kurau on Monday. He quipped in his post: “I wonder how the otters choose their leaders. I doubt they have the NCMP positions.”
A furry resident made an appearance in PAP candidate Tin Pei Ling’s Facebook page on Monday morning. Ms Tin, who is the incumbent MP for MacPherson SMC, introduced viewers to Kenta, a shiba inu who lives in one of the blocks in her constituency, in a Facebook video.
Progress Singapore Party’s Ms Wendy Low also bumped into a furry friend while on a walkabout in Tanjong Pagar GRC on Sunday, where she is contesting.
PAP candidate and incumbent Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng shared photos of an old feline friend he first met five years ago before the last election. The cat, named Annie, remained a “resident” in his constituency.
4. Tis’ the season
Political parties have been giving out and selling merchandise, such as flags and mascots, but some candidates have also been the recipients of gifts and mementos themselves.
Ms Foo Mee Har, one of the PAP candidates fielded in West Coast GRC, shared photos of some of the gifts that she has received from residents while on the campaign trail, which include home-made cheng tng, hand-sewn masks and a terrarium.
WP candidate for Hougang SMC Dennis Tan and retiring WP MP Png Eng Huat were given keychains with miniature hammers on them, which were made by an Hougang resident.
A resident staying in the Nanyang district in West Coast GRC gave the PSP candidates hand-sewn cloth masks with the party’s initials on them, said party assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai. “It is ordinary Singaporeans like Alice that warms our hearts, reminds us of our purpose and keeps us going. For Country For People!”
The Singapore Democratic Party’s team received two hampers, which contained things like wine, canned abalone and chicken essence, from a supporter, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC candidate Benjamin Pwee shared in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
PAP’s Punggol West SMC candidate Sun Xueling received a hand-made toy from a resident who ran up a flight of stairs during her house visits. “It looks like a good stress ‘ball’,” she said, thanking the resident for the kind thought.
A young girl and her mother gave PSP’s candidate for Marymount SMC, Dr Ang Yong Guan, a hand-drawn card and some pastries while he was on a walkabout with party member Lee Hsien Yang. “We are heartened by the support,” he added.