SINGAPORE: The People's Action Party’s (PAP) decision to field Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat to contest in East Coast GRC is a sign that it takes the Workers’ Party’s (WP) challenge in the constituency “very seriously”, said WP chief Pritam Singh.
Mr Singh was answering questions from reporters in Hougang, alongside WP’s candidate for Hougang SMC Dennis Tan, hours after Nomination Day papers were filed on Tuesday (Jun 30).
“I think it’s an important signal the PAP are sending, that they take our challenge in East Coast very seriously. I’d say we take their challenge equally seriously and that’s why we’ve put a strong slate of candidates in each constituency,” he said.
Mr Heng, who was a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Tampines GRC, was included in the PAP team for East Coast GRC, which also comprises of Senior Minister of State Maliki Osman, Ms Cheryl Chan, Ms Jessica Tan and new face Mr Tan Kiat How, who is a former chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
The WP slate for the constituency comprises of former National Solidarity Party (NSP) member Ms Nicole Seah, as well as Mr Kenneth Foo, Mr Dylan Ng, Mr Terence Tan and Mr Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim.
East Coast GRC is seen as a hotly contested battleground between the PAP and the WP, with the opposition party traditionally fielding a strong team.
In the last General Election, the PAP team, made up of Mr Maliki, Ms Tan, Mr Lim Swee Say, and Mr Lee Yi Shyan won East Coast GRC with 60.7 per cent of the vote against the WP’s team. In 2011, the margin was smaller, with the PAP winning the constituency with 54.8 per cent of the vote.
Speaking to reporters after the WP team for Aljunied GRC was confirmed at Deyi Secondary, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said: “The Workers' Party is honoured that the PAP has seen it fit to send DPM Heng to helm the East Coast GRC (team).
“But of course, we are also quietly confident that the slate that we field there, and in fact the slate that we field in every constituency we are contesting in, are strong and diverse slates who will be able to represent the residents of the area well.”
ALJUNIED'S NEW CANDIDATES ARE "EXCELLENT PEOPLE"
Mr Singh and Ms Lim will be leading WP’s charge to defend Aljunied GRC. The pair, alongside party vice-chairman Faisal Manap, are incumbents, and they are joined by former Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera and Gerald Giam.
Mr Perera and Mr Giam are replacing WP stalwarts - former party chief Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chen Show Mao – who are not contesting in this election.
Mr Singh highlighted that he was confident that both Mr Perera and Ms Giam would do well as they are “excellent people”.
“Both of them have proven to be very capable NCMPs, they are prepared to take on ministers in Parliament. More than that, I think they are very effective on the ground, they reach out to people, they speak humbly, they approach people, and they are not afraid to raise the issues that are faced by our residents to the party leadership for us to bring their voices into Parliament,” said Mr Singh.
When asked which hot button issues WP will raise for this General Election, Ms Lim replied: “Akan datang (Coming soon)."
“I think that will become clear as the campaign wears on,” Mr Singh added.