Last-minute candidate in Singapore elections gives it a try

Reading Time: 2 minutes
NejiFB
Mr Samir’s Facebook campaign

It was a big surprise for many when Samir Salim Neji, 45, showed up last week to register as electoral candidate in Singapore’s Bukit Batok constituency, a vibrant neighbourhood in the west of the city state known for shopping malls and tech centers.

His action somehow disturbed the tranquility of what was expected to become a straightforward showdown in the district between the People’s Action Party’s David Ong and the Singapore Democratic Party’s Sadasivam Veriyah in the polls to be held this Friday, September 11.

Mr Samir, who contests as an independent candidate, is unknown in the political space and has not revealed much of his programme as of now other than he wants to “represent the interests of Singapore’s new citizens” and the government to weigh people’s “happiness” and “stress levels” whenever it considers a new policy.

#happinessfirst: Mr Samir's campaign for Bukit Batok
#happinessfirst: On the campaign trail in Bukit Batok

He started campaigning on social media last week, using mainly Facebook presence and Twitter. He also started walkabouts across his district “to have chats with residents,” he says.

“Had been tough, racing against time. It’s my 52nd block…. door to door… Meeting lots of my neighbourhood… Refreshing, learning… Thank you,” he reported on September 8 on his Facebook page.

Mr Samir originates from India’s southern Kerala province where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Kerala in 1993 and a Master’s degree in business administration in 1996 and started focusing on information technology. After arriving in Singapore in 1997, he worked at various tech companies such as Atos Origin, was IT consultant, launched his own start-ups and today is Managing Director Asia-Pacific for US-based business software company Anaplan, a young company that sees itself as contender to IBM, Oracle and SAP in the enterprise software space. Mr Samir became Singapore citizen in 2000.

Given that background, Mr Samir says that one of his political goals is to better allocate finances to start-ups in Singapore “in order to re-energise the nation.” He would advocate a “start-up village” in Bukit Batok with the vision to encourage entrepreneurs and create more jobs and employment in a bid to change Singapore’s industry structure away from government-linked companies to innovative start-ups, obviously with Silicon Valley as a role model in mind. Such ideas have been suggested before as Singapore seeks a new growth formula by positioning itself, among other measures, to become “Asia’s start-up hub.”

His candidacy has been met with some criticism in the social media space as Singapore’s political ecosystem is not used to political self-starters and the boundaries are normally well-defined. However, in the recent past, the long-ruling People’s Action Party has begun facing challenges, and this year’s poll is the first since 1965 where every seat in parliament is being contested. Particularly the center-left Worker’s Party has turned into a strong challange for the conservative People’s Action Party.

Han Hui Hui
The only other independent candidate in Singapore’s elections is social activist Han Hui Hui

There is also another independent candidate, Han Hui Hui, a social activist of Chinese descent who runs in the southern Radin Mas constituency, an area with large public housing complexes.

While there have been no indications that the two independent candidates also hope to score within their ethnicities, it is likely that a lot of Singaporeans of Indian descent might find Mr. Samir electable. He has, however, not presented a social agenda as of yet on issues such as expensive housing and otherwise high living costs in the city state, something that is of increasing concern for a growing part of Singapore’s aging population.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Mr Samir’s Facebook campaign

It was a big surprise for many when Samir Salim Neji, 45, showed up last week to register as electoral candidate in Singapore’s Bukit Batok constituency, a vibrant neighbourhood in the west of the city state known for shopping malls and tech centers.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

NejiFB
Mr Samir’s Facebook campaign

It was a big surprise for many when Samir Salim Neji, 45, showed up last week to register as electoral candidate in Singapore’s Bukit Batok constituency, a vibrant neighbourhood in the west of the city state known for shopping malls and tech centers.

His action somehow disturbed the tranquility of what was expected to become a straightforward showdown in the district between the People’s Action Party’s David Ong and the Singapore Democratic Party’s Sadasivam Veriyah in the polls to be held this Friday, September 11.

Mr Samir, who contests as an independent candidate, is unknown in the political space and has not revealed much of his programme as of now other than he wants to “represent the interests of Singapore’s new citizens” and the government to weigh people’s “happiness” and “stress levels” whenever it considers a new policy.

#happinessfirst: Mr Samir's campaign for Bukit Batok
#happinessfirst: On the campaign trail in Bukit Batok

He started campaigning on social media last week, using mainly Facebook presence and Twitter. He also started walkabouts across his district “to have chats with residents,” he says.

“Had been tough, racing against time. It’s my 52nd block…. door to door… Meeting lots of my neighbourhood… Refreshing, learning… Thank you,” he reported on September 8 on his Facebook page.

Mr Samir originates from India’s southern Kerala province where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Kerala in 1993 and a Master’s degree in business administration in 1996 and started focusing on information technology. After arriving in Singapore in 1997, he worked at various tech companies such as Atos Origin, was IT consultant, launched his own start-ups and today is Managing Director Asia-Pacific for US-based business software company Anaplan, a young company that sees itself as contender to IBM, Oracle and SAP in the enterprise software space. Mr Samir became Singapore citizen in 2000.

Given that background, Mr Samir says that one of his political goals is to better allocate finances to start-ups in Singapore “in order to re-energise the nation.” He would advocate a “start-up village” in Bukit Batok with the vision to encourage entrepreneurs and create more jobs and employment in a bid to change Singapore’s industry structure away from government-linked companies to innovative start-ups, obviously with Silicon Valley as a role model in mind. Such ideas have been suggested before as Singapore seeks a new growth formula by positioning itself, among other measures, to become “Asia’s start-up hub.”

His candidacy has been met with some criticism in the social media space as Singapore’s political ecosystem is not used to political self-starters and the boundaries are normally well-defined. However, in the recent past, the long-ruling People’s Action Party has begun facing challenges, and this year’s poll is the first since 1965 where every seat in parliament is being contested. Particularly the center-left Worker’s Party has turned into a strong challange for the conservative People’s Action Party.

Han Hui Hui
The only other independent candidate in Singapore’s elections is social activist Han Hui Hui

There is also another independent candidate, Han Hui Hui, a social activist of Chinese descent who runs in the southern Radin Mas constituency, an area with large public housing complexes.

While there have been no indications that the two independent candidates also hope to score within their ethnicities, it is likely that a lot of Singaporeans of Indian descent might find Mr. Samir electable. He has, however, not presented a social agenda as of yet on issues such as expensive housing and otherwise high living costs in the city state, something that is of increasing concern for a growing part of Singapore’s aging population.

 

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