SINGAPORE: The People's Action Party (PAP) team for Aljunied GRC has expressed confidence that it can serve residents better than the incumbent Workers’ Party (WP) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PAP squad, which comprises Mr Victor Lye, Mr Shamsul Kamar, Mr Chua Eng Leong, Ms Chan Hui Yuh and Mr Alex Yeo, spoke to journalists after finishing a walkabout at Bedok North on Wednesday morning (Jul 1).
Mr Lye said that he and his teammates will be able to serve Aljunied residents better, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted the national economy.
“In this election, we want to bring the people of Aljunied to the national table. We cannot be on the sidelines for another five years. This is a crisis and we need to chart a very special way for Singapore to go forward,” he said.
“We can see the cries for help that come through the internet, we see a younger generation that need jobs. Let’s care about that first. And the people of Aljunied (need) representatives to do that for them,” Mr Lye added.
For the General Election, the team will be up against the incumbents - WP's chief Pritam Singh, party chair Sylvia Lim and vice-chair Faisal Manap – who are joined by former Non-Constituency Members of Parliament Mr Leon Perera and Mr Gerald Giam.
Mr Perera and Mr Giam have replaced WP stalwarts Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chen Show Mao, who are both not contesting in the polls.
When asked whether the absence of Mr Low and Mr Chen will change PAP’s campaign strategy or boost PAP's chances, Mr Lye said: "The answer is no, flatly no. We have never looked at who is on the other side. We look at our residents, always."
"We also look at those that have been given the chance to serve and how they have served. And we look, we understand. We think we can do better. The people will decide," he added.
Mr Lye, Mr Chua and Mr Shamsul were all part of PAP’s team that narrowly lost to WP in the 2015 election. WP clinched victory with 50.96 per cent of the vote.
WP first won Aljunied GRC in 2011 from the PAP, resulting in the departure of former Cabinet minister George Yeo. That year, PAP saw its nationwide vote share fall to 60.1 per cent.
However, Mr Chua added that the PAP team has been present on the ground since 2011 and that Aljunied residents have not been left behind over the last nine years. He cited evidence of infrastructural improvements in the area.
“Look around you, all the improvements have been done. The government has been listening over the last nine years. We haven’t shied away from our responsibilities,” he said.
“It’s all about this (COVID-19) crisis right now. You give us a strong mandate, we will make your voices heard. And we know we are able to also have these personal conversations with the leaders, and I think that is very important,” said Mr Chua.
He added that the PAP team who has been working the ground are serving as “appointed volunteers” and this “speaks volumes”.
“We serve as volunteers, and if the Workers’ Party would like to represent as volunteers, I think you know the national sentiment -12 NCMP seats, full voting rights,” said Mr Chua.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted that however Singaporeans vote at the General Election, there will be at least 12 opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) due to the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme.
The NCMP scheme, started in 1984, guarantees a minimum number of opposition MPs in Parliament. After the last General Election, this number was raised from nine to 12 and the voting rights of NCMPs were enhanced.
On Mr Pritam's comments that the election could be more challenging for opposition parties, amid talk of a possible wipeout in Parliament, Mr Lye said: “Aljunied has been held hostage for too long. It has been nine years, the residents can see. It’s time they gave us a chance.”
When asked to comment on how the team has been labelled as a “suicide squad”, PAP new candidate Mr Yeo said: “We don’t concentrate on labels. Our focus is only on our residents.”
Mr Yeo added that even though the PAP team could not find any government funds to tap on and it does not run the town council, they have raised their own funds and extended help to residents and organisations in the area.