Home News SG Politics "A faceless GE" -- SDP's Damanhuri Abas looks back on GE2020

“A faceless GE” — SDP’s Damanhuri Abas looks back on GE2020

With new Covid-19 measures in place, the face mask became "the ultimate barrier"




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Singapore — An opposition Singapore Democratic Party candidate in the recent General Election has posted on his experience at the hustings in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Facebook post, “Reflections On A Faceless GE”, was published on Saturday (July 18) by Mr Damanhuri Abas, who was part of the four-member SDP team that contested against a People’s Action Party team in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. It got 36.82% of the vote there.

Mr Damanhuri wrote about the restrictions that Covid-19 had imposed on campaigning, and of how that made GE2020 different, and the consequences of it.

With new Covid-19 measures in place, candidates were not allowed to have physical contact with members of the public, and everyone was required to keep a mask on. For him, this meant that the mask became “the ultimate barrier”.

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Mr Damanhuri added that with rallies out of the question, there was a “strangely eerie silence” during campaign nights. This was because rallies would usually be reverberating “beyond the rally grounds into coffee shops, markets, void-decks”.

He mentions the many things SDP did to cope with the unique circumstances of the elections, with one of them being to rent a temporary office to convert it into a studio to record online speeches and rallies. This meant that many candidates had to cut short their ground campaign time to do video recordings.

Furthermore, there were differences in the PAP and SDP resources. Unlike the PAP, which was able to flood residents’ letterboxes with 5 or more campaign messages in “mint printed brochures”, the SDP relied solely on the hard work of candidates and volunteers to send their messages directly to the front doors of households.

Mr Damanhuri, therefore, agreed with the analogy of the opposition having their hands tied behind their backs when campaigning during Covid-19.

However, the results of the elections showed that voters, especially the younger voters, had the courage to rise above the expected fear and vote for the opposition. He acknowledged that it was a “victory of sorts”, although it was not enough to get party leaders Dr Chee Soon Juan and Dr Paul Tambyah into Parliament.

Both men lost by narrow margins, with Dr Chee getting 45.20% of the vote in Bukit Batok SMC and Dr Tambyah getting 46.26% in Bukit Panjang SMC. These narrow losses were attibuted to the Pioneer Generation and new citizens, who he called “PAP fixed deposits”.

Mr Damanhuri wrote that the SDP was ready to push on “come what may”, pointing out the SDP leaders are “survivors and fighters who are well-known to stay the cause”.

It is noted that Dr Chee has been involved in Singapore politics since his first foray into it in 1992.

Finally, Mr Damanhuri declared that “the Reds will rise up again and hit our campaign grounds both old and new to plant our party flags onto the places we are set to contest in 2025”.

He rounds up his post with a hashtag “#SDP2025StartsNow”. /TISG

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