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Singapore polls could see field of 200 in keen contest
AFTER a dizzying three weeks that saw 10 political parties introduce wave after wave of their candidates for the general election (GE), it's now time to find out the exact constituencies where they will square off against.
Nine schools across Singapore, from Bukit Batok to Tampines, will experience a hive of political activity on Tuesday morning.
These venues are the designated sites for Nomination Day, with nearly 200 people from the ruling party and the opposition, along with a handful running as independents, expected to turn up and file their papers to take part in the Sept 11 GE. As things stand, all 29 constituencies here will be contested, which would mean that all the 2.46 million eligible voters will get their chance to cast their ballots come Polling Day.
All the required documents must be filled up and submitted in duplicate and in person at the nomination centre, with candidates having just one hour to do so - from 11am to noon. The candidate, or group of candidates if it's a team gunning for a group representation constituency (GRC), must be accompanied by at least six people - a proposer, a seconder, and four or more assentors, all of whom must be from the respective constituency that the candidates are contesting in. Every candidate must also bring with them a political donation certificate from the Registrar of Political Donations. They also have to fork out an election deposit of S$14,500 each, which will be forfeited if they eventually get less than 12.5 per cent of the votes in their constituency.
The People's Action Party (PAP) is the only party fielding candidates in every single constituency, with 89 of its men and women dressed in all-white and ready for the hustings ahead. The party has also gone the extra step by announcing the exact constituencies that they will be fielded in.
The top opposition party, the Workers' Party (WP), already has seven elected members of parliament and they are hoping to add to that list. The WP intends to send candidates to five GRCs and five single seat wards, with a total of 28 places in parliament on the line.
The chiefs of these two parties, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the PAP and the WP's Low Thia Khiang, will be at the same nomination centre - Raffles Institution in Bishan - on Nomination Day.
Mr Lee is leading his six-member Ang Mo Kio GRC team into what will be a likely face-off with the Reform Party's line-up that includes activist and blogger Roy Ngerng and lawyer M Ravi.
As for Mr Low, he and the rest of his four teammates are expected to defend their seats in Aljunied GRC, having wrested that constituency from the PAP at the last GE back in May 2011.
Veteran politician Yeo Guat Kwang, a four-term MP, is joining hands with four of the PAP's branch chairmen in Aljunied to try and bring the GRC "home" to the PAP.
There is much interest in who will turn up at Fengshan Primary School, where voters will finally learn the identities of the WP candidates competing in two constituencies - East Coast and Fengshan.
The PAP has already shown its hand. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and three of the existing incumbents are staying put in East Coast, while grassroots leader Cheryl Chan - making her GE debut - will lead the Fengshan single seat ward that was recently carved out from that GRC.
Among the many other opposition parties looking to stamp their mark in this GE are the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), whose secretary-general Chee Soon Juan confirmed last Saturday that he will stand for election for the first time since 2001.
The 53-year-old was unable to do so in 2006 and 2011 as he was still a bankrupt at the time. He has not revealed where he will be fielded, but the talk is he will spearhead a four-member team in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.
Two new parties - Singaporeans First and the People's Power Party (PPP) - are taking part in elections for the first time.
The former is helmed by ex-presidential candidate Tan Jee Say and will be sending teams to Tanjong Pagar and Jurong GRCs. This could mean that residents of Tanjong Pagar will get to vote for the first time since the GRC was formed in 1991.
As for the PPP, which was founded in May this year, its secretary-general Goh Meng Seng - an opposition veteran formerly with the National Solidarity Party (NSP) - wants to contest the four-member Chua Chu Kang GRC.
There is also the big question of how many multi-cornered fights will emerge. Both the MacPherson and Potong Pasir single seats could see two opposition parties challenge the PAP incumbent, while the independent candidates - an unknown quantity for now - could still force a three-way or even four-way battle in other constituencies.
Once Nomination Day is over, the nine-day campaign period will kick into high gear with the first of many election rallies expected to take place on Wednesday all the way until the evening of Sept 9.
The next day will be the designated Cooling-Off Day, and as many as 2.46 million Singaporeans will then go to the polls on Sept 11 in what is fast shaping up to be the most hotly contested GE in Singapore's history.