General Election: How active have Singapore political parties been on the ground?

PHOTO: Workers' Party Facebook page

By Christalle Tay

In the second of a four-part series on how political parties in Singapore are gearing up for the next General Election, Yahoo News Singapore examines how ruling and opposition parties are engaging the public on the ground.

SINGAPORE — Politician sightings have been on the rise since June with political parties ramping up their walkabouts and house visits. The Workers’ Party (WP) and People’s Voice Party (PVP) have been especially diligent in walking the ground in the past year, according to their Facebook posts.

Facebook is the go-to online platform for the parties to update their walkabout and house visit activities. Only PVP has published the dates of its planned house visits on its website, but they were last updated in May. People’s Power Party (PPP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) did not post about such activities on Facebook, their only active platform for public outreach.

PPP’s secretary-general Goh Meng Seng was recently in the news for a non-party related development. Days after the controversial ban on personal mobility devices (PMD) on footpaths, Goh attended the meet-the-people sessions in Toa Payoh West and Sengkang West, where he confronted Senior Minister of State (SMS) Chee Hong Tat and SMS Lam Pin Min about the ban.

The chart below details the number of walkabouts and house visits each party has conducted between 1 November 2018 and 10 November 2019.

Constituencies that the political party has held before/is holding are flagged in red. INFOGRAPHIC: Christalle Tay

Parties that contested the last elections were seen mostly campaigning in their former battlegrounds. The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)​ ​announced​ early in February its plans to return to the same wards it contested in the 2015 General Election. The new addition to SDP, Benjamin Pwee – the secretary-general of DPP till his resignation this February –​ ​staked his claim​ on Yuhua SMC in early November.

Other parties – WP, Singapore People’s Party (SPP), National Solidarity Party (NSP) and SingFirst – might not be reviving their previous electoral game plans. Macpherson SMC, the subject of a three-cornered fight last election, appears to have been abandoned by WP and NSP. WP has instead ventured into Ang Mo Kio GRC – where it last contested for in 2006 – and Tampines GRC. NSP seems to have its eye on Nee Soon SMC and Yuhua SMC, where it has had walkabouts thrice in Nee Soon and twice in Yuhua – compared with other wards where NSP has been once.

INFOGRAPHIC: Christalle Tay

Progress Singapore Party (PSP), on the other hand, has covered all 29 constituencies with island-wide walkabouts, which it has carried out twice, making it hard to assess where its game plan might focus on.

Some parties have conducted other types of physical outreach to the public. SDP has been especially active in holding events, since the​ ​official launch​ of its campaign on 23 February, which was open to the public. It also held public events for the launch of its policies and manifesto, and a pre-election rally.

Before PSP had its launch, which was open to the public, it held meet-the-people sessions which were attended by members of the public who had signed up on Facebook. In September, PSP organised a free talk on poverty in Singapore given by economist Yeoh Lam Keong.

NSP has held its own meet-the-people sessions, which it called “​kopitalk​”. The sessions, which started in June this year, were meant to be monthly meet-ups with residents over coffee at a coffeeshop in Tampines. The last ​kopitalk was held in July.