SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) is going up against the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) for the four-member Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.
But the opposition team will not be led by party chairman, Dr Paul Tambyah, as many had expected. He is contesting in Bukit Panjang Single Member Constituency (SMC) instead.
The SDP team comprises political scientist James Gomez, marketing communications professional Min Cheong, businessman Alfred Tan and — the surprise inclusion — former presidential candidate Tan Jee Say, who last week dissolved the Singaporeans First Party he had headed.
They are up against the PAP’s Vivian Balakrishnan, fellow political office holder Sim Ann, lawyer Christopher De Souza and newcomer Edward Chia, the co-founder of Timbre Group, who replaces former MP Liang Eng Hwa as the latter is being fielded in Bukit Panjang.
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In 2015, the PAP team won the GRC with 66.6 per cent of the vote against an SDP team led by secretary-general Chee Soon Juan.
The SDP contested the constituency in the 2011 General Election as well, fielding a team led by Mr Tan, who applied to rejoin the party at the eleventh hour. He wrote about his application on Facebook on Monday.
Mr Gomez’s candidacy in the GRC was also unexpected, as he had told reporters on Sunday he would be part of the SDP’s Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC team.
In his post-nomination speech, he told residents that the PAP will “tell you not to take a risk, give them a steady hand”.
“But don’t be lulled into their propaganda. Singapore needs a diverse parliament ... Let’s remind ourselves of the mishandling and missteps they took with COVID-19,” he said, citing changes in approach to the wearing of masks and school closures as examples.
In response, Dr Balakrishnan, who is the Foreign Affairs Minister, told reporters that “it’s very easy to look at things in hindsight”.
“But make no mistake. We did our very best looking after everybody in Singapore,” he said, adding that the government had been “completely transparent” and took the advice of medical experts.
In his speech, he urged Singaporeans to vote for a government that will protect their health, jobs and future.
For Mr Tan Jee Say, it is a return to both party and constituency, something he said is "happy" with. He led the SDP team which contested Holland-Bukit Timah GRC in the 2011 election.
"My friends, my ex-colleagues in the civil service who live in this area are all wanting me to come back and to say something for them, based on my experience in the civil service and based on my knowledge of government policies," said Mr Tan Jee Say, who was the principal private secretary to then-deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong between 1985 and 1990.
Holland-Bukit Timah GRC was created in 2006, when Bukit Panjang SMC was carved out of the former Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC, and Bukit Timah SMC was absorbed into the GRC.
There are 115,012 eligible voters in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.