Singapore GE: Opposition parties considering virtual tea party to share tips on campaigning safely during a pandemic, says SDP

SINGAPORE – While the opposition is set to head into the next general election without its traditional pow-wow, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said it has been in talks with other parties to hold an online meeting to get acquainted and share tips on campaigning safely during a pandemic.

“It’s more a social setting – getting to know you kind of thing,” said SDP chairman Paul Tambyah at a Ghim Moh market walkabout on Saturday (June 20) afternoon.

“It’s not going to be a formal bargaining session; it’s just making sure we’re all on the same page.”

Tips on what to do – in case an opposition volunteer gets a fever or falls sick with pneumonia during the campaign trail – will be shared at the virtual tea party.

Professor Tambyah, who was recently named the 2022 president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, added: “When you’re doing an election in the middle of a public health emergency, you have to be prepared.”

He told The Straits Times the meeting was “still up in the air” as opposition parties continue with their talks.

While some of the campaigning will take place on social media, SDP said it will continue to engage older constituents who may not be tech-savvy.

“We have to do as much as we can,” Prof Tambyah said. “Older people don’t go online. So we have no choice but to go door to door. (But) we have to make sure we don’t become a source for a cluster of infections.”

Compared with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), SDP will be facing hurdles in getting its message across to voters as political rallies have been disallowed for fear of spreading the coronavirus.

“The bread and butter of an opposition campaign since the 1950s has been the rallies,” said Prof Tambyah. “They (the public) get a chance to engage with us, they get a chance to buy our merchandise. And this has been taken away from us.”

SDP has yet to announce where it will contest but it has been walking the ground at five constituencies it contested in 2015 – Yuhua and Bukit Batok SMCs, as well as Marsiling-Yew Tee, Bukit Panjang and Holland-Bukit Timah GRCs.

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