How Bukit Batok came to have three corners

Independent candidate Samir Salim Neji

Independent candidate Samir Salim Neji

Out of nowhere, an independent candidate popped up to contest the Bukit Batok single-member constituency (SMC). His presence greatly upset some Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) supporters who were expecting a straight fight between their candidate Sadasivam Veriyah and the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) David Ong. This made Bukit Batok one of three SMCs that will see three-cornered fights this general election.

Independent candidate Samir Salim Neji’s nomination attempt was first disqualified by the election returning officers at Keming Primary School which served as the nomination centre for Bukit Batok and three other constituencies. He came to the centre with three other persons, when the rules require that each nominee should present a proposer, a seconder, four assentors, and can also have “one other person” present, making a total of eight persons including the nominee/candidate. With only four persons in Samir Salim’s group, it didn’t look as if he met the criteria.

pic_201509_02The proposer, seconder and assentors must all be registered voters in the respective constituency. The “one other person” is typically the election agent who attends to all supporting activities to aid the candidate in his or her campaign.

Jaslyn Go is the SDP candidate for Yuhua

Jaslyn Go is the SDP candidate for Yuhua

I was in the nomination centre to observe all this as I had agreed to be one of the assentors for SDP’s candidate for Yuhua, Jaslyn Go. Keming Primary School also served as the nomination centre for Yuhua constituency.

It took only a few minutes for the officials to turn Samir Salim away. A few SDP supporters went over to speak to him, and (I was later told), it seemed that his problem was that his other assentors were either overseas or failed to show up at the nomination centre. I also heard that he had been “in Singapore” for fifteen years.

It should be noted — not that race is any issue here, but just to help understand the next part of the narrative — that all four persons in Samir Salim’s group were non-Chinese.  They appeared to be of South Asian origin.

It wasn’t long before a flurry of conversations occurred among the PAP people in the nomination centre, and ten or fifteen minutes later, fresh documents were brought before the nomination centre officials. It turned out that the PAP had offered three persons living in Bukit Batok to be Samir Salim’s assentors, thus saving his candidacy from disqualification. At the close of the one-hour nomination window, this form was posted for public viewing, showing three Chinese names as his assentors, making the requisite four:


After 12:30pm, the accepted nominees were formally announced, and all candidates had a chance to make a short speech to the assembled crowd, which mostly comprised PAP supporters, with a sprinkling of red-shirted SDP supporters. Samir Salim spoke only in English. “No Tamil?” I whispered, to no one in particular. “He’s from Kerala,” came a reply from a stranger close by. How true that is I cannot say, but I’m sure we will know over the next few days from other sources.

The SDP supporters were quite upset by this turn of events. Their knee-jerk reaction is understandable: they think the third candidate’s presence on the ballot will split the “opposition vote”. First of all, I think it’s a caricature to speak of a unified “opposition vote”, but secondly, I think it can very well be argued that giving voters a choice can’t be bad thing. Of course the counter-point can also be made that if one of the more established opposition parties were short of assentors, the PAP wouldn’t be lending them any, so it’s not as if we can read this gesture from the PAP to be as noble as it may first appear.

* * * * *

Here are a few other photos I took this morning:

Sadasivam Veriyah of SDP (second from left) leading his supporters as they walk to the nomination centre

Sadasivam Veriyah of SDP (second from left) leading his supporters as they walk to the nomination centre

Unions come out in support of a PAP candidate

Unions come out in support of a PAP candidate

Singapore First Party organise their election materials at a coffee shop

Singapore First Party organise their election materials at a coffee shop

41 Responses to “How Bukit Batok came to have three corners”

  1. 1 yuenchungkwong 1 September 2015 at 16:31

    I dont see why PAP would help another party to produce a 3 corner fight; they would not help to stop a walkover of course.

  2. 8 K.PiO 1 September 2015 at 18:48

    This Independent candidate sure has some money to lose! He cannot even muster enough people to nominate him… And what makes him so sure he will be able to garner / split opposition votes? And the pap supporters helping to nominate him did Pap a disservice, since opposition can now call this Fact in their rallies.

  3. 9 vincent 1 September 2015 at 18:48

    Your enemy’s enemy is your friend loh

  4. 10 MaxChew 1 September 2015 at 20:17

    Maybe PAP not confident of their candidate beating the SDP candidate?
    Thus a 3rd independent candidate may take away a significant lot of votes from SDP? Unlikely from PAP…. It’s either PAP or the Opp!

    • 11 Anon yW60 3 September 2015 at 15:31

      Agree much.

    • 12 Mysteriousele 11 September 2015 at 00:57

      But that doesn’t explain why the PAP pointed out the error in RP’s forms to them. I’m not saying that the PAP is saintly and all, but that, at least, was a fair play.

      Also, a credible opposition split votes. I predict this 3rd guy will lose his election deposit. I haven’t even heard anything out of him this election, though I don’t stay in BB so maybe that’s why

  5. 13 Anon 2E5r 1 September 2015 at 21:38

    PAP is very pleased to help anyone wishing to contest. More the merrier.

  6. 14 Bear Haw 1 September 2015 at 22:41

    Err… Why insult?

    He might lose his deposit. He might be a great MP. this is the democratic process. I think the article is written with intolerance. Especially from Alex who should know better .

    He isn’t an alien. He had been here 15 years and like any citizen, be allowed to run for office.

    • 15 Qiao Zhi 2 September 2015 at 16:40

      The facts are self-evident. If the PAP is confident, it wouldn’t resort to such ‘ignoble’ tactics. I got the feeling this ‘Independent’ candidate would get no more than a handful of votes -from his immediate family members, perhaps. lol

  7. 16 RZ Kays 1 September 2015 at 23:18

    This rubbish criticism is highly opinionated and based on nothing factual.
    Help is help and you cant say they wouldn’t have helped a more established party based on nothing more than your mouth farts.

    • 17 yawningbread 7 September 2015 at 16:10

      If the PAP were always so ready to help serious contenders (and I don’t think Reform Party is a serious contender), then why have we had so many walkovers in years past?

  8. 18 Sam Gunner 1 September 2015 at 23:38

    PAP supporters were his assentors?
    What if this guy takes votes away from the PAP and gives SDP the win?
    Egg on your face, PAP.
    How stupid. LOL.

  9. 19 f pap 1 September 2015 at 23:52

    PAP are the one bringing them in, look how many new citizen is forming new government to again PAP. Not only betray of a nation ,destroyed Singaporean life and core value by importing too much of them. take a look around you , in the workplace or hdb , or anywhere.

    • 20 yawningbread 7 September 2015 at 16:08

      Please don’t widen this topic to all new citizens as a whole. The article is about Samir and what happened on a certain day, that’s all. The article is meant to inform readers of something interesting. Don’t over-invest meaning into it.

  10. 21 Jafri Basron 1 September 2015 at 23:52

    Applause for the sporting spirit of the PAP supporters who helped the Independent Candidate Samir Salim to contest the Bukit Batok SMC.

  11. 22 landragon123 1 September 2015 at 23:52

    Can a police report be make if what was written here is true. Police will have to find out if the 3 Chinese names knows the candidate personally?

  12. 24 Ah Lee 2 September 2015 at 01:47

    Wow! Desperate Time, Call For Desperate Move:) Rotten PAPaya come GE2015! VTO! RIP!

  13. 25 V 2 September 2015 at 02:20

    hired gun. very sad that this audience is mostly made up of simpletons. race is the MAIN issue. yeah right

  14. 26 Random 2 September 2015 at 07:49

    Not sure why you emphasise that he is not born in Singapore or that his associates are not Chinese (is that a bad thing somehow?). As a loyal reader of your blog I’m very surprised at your tone in this post.

    If he is a genuine candidate who is willing to put in the ground work he has as much a right to contest the election as any other party. If he is not a genuine candidate, I am sure most voters will be smart enough not to vote for him, especially if the other two parties do a good enough job of advertising themselves to the people.

    • 27 yawningbread 7 September 2015 at 16:05

      As I wrote, I am only mentioning the race of the 4 persons in the small group to make the point that in the final (accepted) form, there were three names that appear to be Chinese. But there were no Chinese in the group that showed up with Samir. This point needs be to understood within the context of how nomination filing should work: All other candidates bring their assentors with them. If Samir had all his assentors with him, they would be in the group walking into the nomination hall with him, the three Chinese persons included. My point as written in the essay was that there were only non-Chinese persons in his group, and they didn’t make up the requisite number. This is to support my observation that assentors were lent to him.

    • 28 Ruzin 7 September 2015 at 19:32

      I literally couldn’t agree with you more. It does not help the narrative. I reckon you have a very faint understanding of ‘narrative’ and ‘context’

  15. 29 Anon 30hp 2 September 2015 at 08:35

    This is not rationale to say it splits the opposition votes. It works two ways… it can also split PAP votes too… question is what is your confidence and can you convince the people to vote for you… that is the deciding factor.

  16. 30 CY 2 September 2015 at 09:48

    It seems that Mr Alex Au practises double standard. Why did he did not say anything about Ms Han Hui Hui, a new citizen of 2 years contesting in Radin Mas against RP and PAP?

    I am saying this from a neutral stand.

    • 31 yawningbread 7 September 2015 at 16:00

      Read carefully what I wrote. It’s a report on what happened, nothing more nothing less. I am totally OK with a citizen, whether new or old, contesting elections. It’s up to voters, in line with the democratic spirit.

  17. 32 Anon Tama 2 September 2015 at 11:36

    Even a Malaysian who is here for more than a decade is contesting. The electoral deposit is his. Let him fight.

  18. 33 ray 2 September 2015 at 12:04

    you see one of problem now these days. whatever the PAP do, its written negatively or with a touch or negativity. they help reform party spot a mistake to prevent a walk over- keyboard warriors, says the PAP want to see how they beat the shit out of RP so they can make a joke out of them. Now PAP supporters/grassroots help with the independent candidate, keyboard warriors says the PAP want the independent candidate to dilute the votes opposition votes? then next sentence say this guy only here for 15 years only speak English….
    Sad to say whatever Singapore build for the last 50 years is being trash by a generation who only wants but do not give.

  19. 34 Wilson 2 September 2015 at 13:40

    Great. Now PAP supporters wont know whether to vote for PAP or Mr Salim. SDP is going to have an easier fight on their hands.

  20. 35 Qingzhao Yu 2 September 2015 at 13:56

    He is here to test water … no matter how many votes he get the Back stage hand is the winner.. cause on next GE you will see more New Citizen in that Party and this guy case will be the reference. Who the hell will know the actual year he live in SG… if that Party say he is here 15 years then he is. Little India is growing

  21. 36 Richard Lee 2 September 2015 at 15:17

    … just more evidence that PM Lee keeps at least this promise.

    “Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes” – PM Lee, may06

    In fact, the other MIW, all Govt. Depts, the PA etc have chipped in to help him do this.

    Pity he’s not so good with his promises from GE 2011

  22. 37 Harish 2 September 2015 at 18:48

    I had worked with Samir and he is gem of a person and I believe he would be good choice if he wins as he has amazing knack of studying people and solve issues and good vision. He looks simpleton by looks but is more amazing than what u can make out on first look

  23. 38 3 September 2015 at 18:17


    Sent from my HTC,*

  24. 39 Anon hDDw 4 September 2015 at 16:43

    Whether 5, 10, 15 yrs living in Singapore…doesnt make you a Singaporean…cuz the blood flowing in you isnt as thick as us….i really wonder what will happen to OUR Singapore….and even if we migrate…we cant let go of Singapore cuz our CPF money is locked here….

  25. 40 Anon xkAt 5 September 2015 at 02:43

    Better for him to look after his village where he was born….the villigers need people like him to be better living for them

  26. 41 W 16 September 2015 at 23:59

    PAP just wants to grab more money for the government from an unsuspecting victim.

    Poor Samir, he never had a chance to begin with ;p

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