SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) will field a five-member team anchored by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in East Coast GRC, against a Workers’ Party (WP) team.
The WP team comprises prominent new face Ms Nicole Seah, as well as Mr Kenneth Foo, Mr Dylan Ng, Mr Terence Tan and Mr Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim.
Besides Mr Heng, who was previously fielded in Tampines GRC, the PAP team comprises Senior Minister of State Maliki Osman, Ms Cheryl Chan, Ms Jessica Tan and new face Mr Tan Kiat How, former chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
The candidates were announced at the close of nominations on Tuesday (Jun 30) at the St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School nomination centre.
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Missing from the slate for the upcoming General Election are former manpower minister Lim Swee Say and backbencher Lee Yi Shyan. Both Mr Lim – who was previously rumoured to have been retiring – and Mr Lee were members of the team that contested and won the 2015 General Election in the constituency when it was a four-member GRC.
The WP’s lineup this time is entirely different from the team they fielded in the last General Election. In 2015, the team comprised Gerald Giam, Daniel Goh, Leon Perera and Mohamed Fairoz Shariff. However, Dr Goh earlier indicated that he would not contest this year’s polls for health reasons, while Mr Giam and Mr Perera will stand in Aljunied GRC.
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In his thank-you speech, Mr Heng thanked Mr Lim for his years of service to East Coast residents, and his residents at Tampines GRC for electing him into Parliament.
“COVID-19 has plunged the world into a period of profound uncertainty, into a major crisis on many fronts,” he said. “The PAP has a plan to enable us to overcome this crisis, and has a plan to emerge stronger from this.”
There is also a plan for East Coast, he said.
“We look forward to working together with our residents to enable East Coast, and the whole of Singapore to emerge from this stronger. So we humbly ask for your support, for your strong endorsement.”
Speaking during the WP’s thank-you speech, Ms Seah said the WP has been working “very hard on the ground” in the last five years. “We will stand firm, we will remain courageous, and we will always offer all of you a vote for fairness and balance,” she said.
Her teammate Mr Tan added that his team is “privileged” to meet Mr Heng and his team in East Coast. “Whoever is the victor, I always pray that Members of Parliament will work tirelessly for their residents,” he said.
East Coast is seen as a hotly contested battleground between the PAP and the WP, with the opposition party traditionally fielding a strong team there.
In the last General Election, the PAP team, made up of Lim Swee Say, Maliki Osman, Lee Yi Shyan and Jessica Tan, 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.
In both elections, WP candidates that stood in East Coast went on to become Non-Constituency MPs in Parliament, positions meant for the “best losers” from among the opposition candidates.
In the most recent electoral boundary change, the constituency absorbed the former Fengshan SMC, which was won by PAP’s Cheryl Chan in 2015 with 57.5 per cent of the vote against the WP’s Dennis Tan, and East Coast is now a five-member GRC.
According to figures from the Elections Department, there are 121,772 eligible voters in the constituency this year.