Poor turnout at PAP’s first GE rally

Fann Sim

Candidates (L-R) Gan Thiam Poh, Zainal Sapari, Penny Low, Teo Chee Hean, Teo Ser Luck and Janil Puthucheary are seen at PAP's first rally this election. (Yahoo Photo/Marianne)

If the outcome of this General Election was based purely on rally attendance, the opposition would win hands down.

An estimated 2,500 people, many of whom were hardcore party supporters, turned up for the People's Action Party's (PAP's) first rally for the 2011 General Election at the field beside Buangkok MRT station on Thursday evening.

That figure pales in comparison to the crowds for the Worker's Party in Hougang (estimated 15,000), in Geylang East for National Solidarity Party (estimated 5,000), in Clementi stadium for Reform Party (estimated 3,000) and near Commonwealth MRT for Singapore Democratic Party (estimated 5,000).

Supporters there with flags and banners to support the PAP team. (Yahoo Photo/Marianne)

Present at the PAP rally were candidates contesting Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) and Sengkang West SMC.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean stumbled early on in his speech, after he wrongly addressed the audience as a "Siglap crowd." He quickly made amends and addressed his audience as from "Sengkang West".

On the topic of Singapore's cash reserves, DPM Teo -- who is leading the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC team -- talked about the purpose of the fund and how it helped Singaporeans tide over the financial downturn in the last five years.

Teo Chee Hean speaks to the crowd about Singapore's reserves. (Yahoo! photo/Marianne)

"Now, however, the opposition parties seem to have forgotten why we need the reserves...  and they now want to raid the reserves for all kinds of clever ideas," he said.

"To them, $60 billion is small change," said the DPM, before rhetorically asking the audience, "Do you know how many zeros there are in 60 billion? That to the government, is not small change."

Michael Palmer, the PAP candidate for Punggol East also impressed residents when he spoke fluent Mandarin.

"If you elect the PAP team for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Punggol East SMC, the Pasir Ris Punggol Town Council will continue to see and manage the facilities of both Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and the newly carved out Punggol East SMC," said the 43-year-old lawyer.

He also announced that he will be appointed the town council chairman if elected, and this appointment would ensure a seamless continuation of services without interruptions or any transition periods.

Palmer also asked voters to think carefully about the three-cornered challenge posed by Desmond Lim from the  Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and Workers' Party Lee Li Lian for Punggol East SMC.

"They have not worked the ground, but appeared seven weeks before the Polling Day. Mr Lim said then (in 2006)  that even if he did not win, he would continue to work the ground until the next election. After the election, we did not see Mr Lim for the next four-and-a-half years," said Palmer.

Hardcore Penny Low fans kept her banner up throughout the three hours at the PAP rally. (Yahoo! photo/Marianne)

Spotted in the crowd was former army chief and PAP candidate Chan Chun Sing whose Tanjong Pagar GRC was the only ward not contested.  He was seen walking around alone surveying and trying to gain a different perspective from his "backstage view".

"I would say that a majority of Singaporeans are very logical and considered people. To make you vote, people can say things to stir your emotions and those things said may not be of substance," he said.

A spectator who declined to be named told Yahoo! Singapore that she was asked to attend the PAP rally to lend support.

When asked who her employer was, she said "PCF", referring to the PAP Community Foundation organisation known for it's pre-school kindergartens.

A fair number of youths were also seen at the rally listening attentively to the various  speeches.

Nan, a 22-year-old student, said she had been a resident around the area since she was born.

"I'm very excited about this election because of the opposition. I'm not very experienced though," said the first-time voter.

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