The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has derailed plans for all the political parties in Singapore's General Elections. It could be argued that with the pandemic, the GE would have happened not before 2021. But as the ruling People's Action Party government is keen to manage the economic fallout of the COVID-19, they need a fresh mandate to lead to the charge once again.
However, due to restrictions in place, opposition parties haven't had enough chance to interact with the voters. Virtual rallies and online ads have replaced the traditional way of campaigning during an election.
While that may seem like an advantage for the ruling party candidates as they have had their fair share of television presence due to the pandemic, the opposition, barring a few, hardly had a chance to rock PAP's boat before that.
Despite the absence of an opinion poll in the Republic, it's no rocket science to assume that PAP, like all the previous GEs since the country's independence from Malaysia in 1965, will continue to govern. Out of the 93 elected seats, PAP is still expected to win at least 87 of them. But there are few faces Singaporeans will look out for on July 10 when they go out to vote.
Here is a list of five faces from the opposition and the ruling party to watch out for:
1. Heng Swee Keat (PAP): The chosen successor to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Heng is a seasoned politician and the current Deputy PM. Barring PM Lee, he is the main face of PAP in the upcoming GE. As he begins taking the reins of PAP, the 59-year-old will face his first major test from the East Coast GRC, after moving from the Tampines GRC.
After the election, Heng is expected to lead PM Lee's recovery program of Singapore's economy. The incumbent Finance Minister has announced more than S$ 90 billion stimulus package for small, medium businesses and for the general public. He will anchor the five-member team that includes Maliki Osman, Jessica Tan, Cheryl Chan and Tan Kiat How against Workers' Party's Dylan Ng, Kenneth Foo, Nicole Seah, Terence Tan and Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim.
2. Pritam Singh (Workers' Party): The 43-year-old is the successor of famed Low Thia Khiang. In his first GE in 2011, Singh partnered with Low, Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao and Faisal Manap to defeat the incumbent PAP line-up in the Aljunied GRC, becoming the first opposition candidate to win a GRC. After Low stepped down due to ill health, Singh assumed the party's charge as the secretary-general and is now the leader of the opposition in Singapore Parliament.
A former major of the Singapore Armed Forces, Singh is also one of the candidates from the minority group but is revered for his strong leadership skills. Under his tutelage, WP is looking to better its tally in the upcoming GE. He has also called for a review of PAP's response to Coronavirus pandemic.
3. Tan Cheng Bock (PSP): The 80-year-old Progress Singapore Party chief returned to parliamentary elections after almost two decades. Known as Dr Tan to his supporters, he is a former PAP MP who garnered a record 88 percent of votes in 2001 from Ayer Rajah SMC. Now, in the opposition party, he believes PAP has lost its values and wants to see a change in power. He is contesting from the West Coast alongside, Hazel Poa, Nadarajah Loganathan, Jeffrey Khoo and Leong Mun Wai. His team will be up against PAP's Minister of Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Minister of Social and Family Development Desmond Lee Ti-Seng apart from Foo Mee Har, Rachel Ong Sin Yen and Ang Wei Neng.
Dr Tan is still a popular face in the constituency and it showed in the 2011 Presidential Elections when he narrowly lost to Tony Tan. His election agenda is to work towards Singaporean first and review the POFMA act, which, he believes, curtails the freedom of expression and speech.
4. Jamus Lim (WP): The 44-year-old's popularity surged after the first live election debate on July 1. His well-articulated attacks on the incumbent Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan impressed netizens. His academic qualifications that include degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard University are just a testimony of his immense prowess on the subjects.
Lim will contest from Sengkang GRC alongside He Ting Ru, Louis Chua and Raeesah Khan. The PAP line-up against WP's team includes Ng Chee Meng, Lam Pin Min, Amrin Amin and Raymond Lye Hoong Yip.
5. Paul Tambyah (SDP): In any other time, Paul's candidacy might have been overlooked. But the 55-year-old Infectious Disease specialist and an associate professor of medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS), is a loud voice during the pandemic. The Singapore Democratic Party candidate also became the first Singaporean to be elected as the President of International Society of Infectious Diseases. In the past, he has had contested in the GRCs but this time Paul will face PAP's Liang Eng Hwa from the Bukit Panjang SMC.