You know what? After the dust has settled on the Punggol East by-election, the winner will be…Rivervale Plaza! It’s like a lightning rod for all the candidates. PAP’s Koh Poh Koon made a first strike by saying he will get the mall done up in six months: “Having listened and interacted with residents over the last week or so, it is clear that infrastructure issues are something of great concern to them. One of them would be the (Rivervale) Plaza, which we have already endeavoured to complete work in the next six months or so.’’
Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam has thundered back, claiming that a recent visit from his party had led to a swift response by the authorities to rectify and expedite the mall’s construction: “We have accomplished more than I think any of the other nine Opposition members in Parliament or the Government in Punggol East.’’
Want to meet the candidates? Go hang around the mall. Now, I wish the media would reprise the Rivervale Plaza saga for readers. Why did the previous contractor go bust? Who’s the owner? New contractor? What’s there now? What has yet to be completed? And why are residents so upset about it?
Some aspects have probably been reported before but it’s become relevant now. I wonder what the candidates are saying to the tenants there – there are some right? And you can bet with all this political attention being rained on the plaza, the owners and management are quaking in their boots.
This four-cornered square dance round the plaza aside, seems Nomination Day sprang no surprises, save a blinding flash of neon green from SDA’s Desmond Lim. Gosh! What a colour! The two independent candidates came – and left, like they have traditionally done in past elections.
Okay, I digress. Truth is, so much is being said about this BE that I am unable to come up with any original thinking. So here are some random thoughts:
I think Today has the best coverage of the BE. Its page one is so well-written with so many insights by political observers, it’s priceless. I don’t mean that the paper is free. Which it is.
b. Online first moves
The online space has covered everything that happened yesterday, including PAP’s Janil Puthucheary lending a hand to a WP supporter who fainted. Online wag, New Nation, promptly satirised the incident as the woman wanting to advance unity among political parties. Unfortunately, STOMP took the fiction as fact and posted it. It was taken down.
c. Side shows
The two independents put up a great side show, ranting and raving about lost forms, supporters who let them down etc. Someone should have a chat with these two eccentrics who are fixtures in every GE. They’re entertaining! If they are so keen to have a stage, why doesn’t someone give them a real one – they can play grumpy old man and Arab sheik.
d. Political predictions and promises
Political pundits are predicting a two-horse race among the quartet – it’s PAP versus WP. SDA and Reform Party are going to lose their election deposit. RP’s Jeyaretnam has pledged to move into Punggol East if he wins. He is promising to be a son of Punggol.
e. All quiet on the PAP front
PAP bigwigs are keeping relatively quiet, compared to the past. Seems they learnt from the Hougang by-election and will let Dr Koh be his own man and stick to his I am me pledge.
f. Where is the SDP?
Is Dr Chee Soon Juan licking his wounds somewhere? I would have thought an interested party would at least show up at the centre, in the name of opposition solidarity? Maybe he doesn’t want to face further questions about his about-face. Or maybe the other opposition parties would prefer that he stayed away?