SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) on Monday (Jun 29) unveiled its slate of candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC in the upcoming General Election, including two new faces.
Led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the team includes newcomers Ng Ling Ling and Nadia Samdin, as well as former Members of Parliament Gan Thiam Poh and Darryl David.
The party will announce plans for former Ang Mo Kio MPs Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and Mr Ang Hin Kee at a later date.
The prospective candidates were unveiled at a virtual press conference, which was also shared live on Facebook.
Ms Nadia, an associate director at TSMP Law Corporation, is the youngest PAP new face. The 30-year-old spoke in Malay, Mandarin and English when introduced.
Addressing residents in Ang Mo Kio, she said: “I would like to assure you that underlying our lives, our jobs and our future will always be our people … I hope you will give me the chance to know you better. My intention is to serve you sincerely and honestly.”
Ms Ng, 48, was a senior civil servant before stepping down to run in the General Election and had worked in the social service sector for 16 years.
During the press conference, she addressed online criticism about her role in the setting up of the Social Service Training Institute (SSTI). She acknowledged that the founding director of SSTI is Ms Tan Bee Heong, who she “learned a lot from”.
“I was in the key management team in the pioneering years and we were a very small team,” she said.
“As I step up to this role, I am very aware that I will be subject to public scrutiny. My journey to help people and to care for people, I'll continue to do that and I'll focus on that in the campaign.”
Mr Lee, who is PAP's secretary-general, also said in response to a question that several of the new PAP candidates have officeholder potential.
“I think it's too early to say exactly how many because it depends on their performance in the election and afterwards. I'm quite confident that several of them will become officeholders in due course,” he said.
"NO CANDIDATE IS PERFECT"
Responding to questions about former prospect Ivan Lim and the quality of PAP candidates, Mr Lee said: “The PAP has a thorough process to choose our candidates, assess them, vet them. No process is perfect, no candidate is perfect.
“We are putting together a team of men and women with varied backgrounds and experiences: They've been knocked about, they've learned about life, they've made mistakes along the way and hopefully have learned from them.
“I think if we look for the perfect candidate, we will lose many good men and women. And if we encourage a culture of trial by Internet, we will not find anybody willing to stand and put themselves and their families through this ordeal, even if at the end of it, they're able to clear themselves.”
On Mr Lim, Mr Lee said that it was the right decision for him to withdraw from the election, but it “should not be the end of the matter” and the party will investigate the matter after the election.
“We don't have time to settle it now, but we can't simply write off and destroy people like this. So, after the elections, the party will investigate the veracity of the allegations against Ivan and we will come to a view on the matter.”
NEW ANG MO KIO TOWN COUNCIL
Mr Lee also announced that after the election, the new Ang Mo Kio Town Council will also manage the Yio Chu Kang and Kebun Baru SMCs, which were created after electoral boundaries were redrawn ahead of this election.
“This, of course, assuming that we win in Ang Mo Kio … (and the) PAP candidate wins in Yio Chu Kang and also in Kebun Baru,” he said. “So I ask for the voters in Ang Mo Kio GRC to vote for us and my team. I also ask for the voters in Kebun Baru and Yio Chu Kang to vote for the PAP candidates there, in order that we can all work together to make Ang Mo Kio an outstanding town for residents to live, work and play.”
Ang Mo Kio GRC was one of two Group Representation Constituencies which shrank from six seats to five seats. Part of the ward was carved out to create the new Single Member Constituency in Yio Chu Kang.
READ: Possible changing of the guard in GRCs as newer ministers could step up to lead, observers say
PAP has not announced its candidate for Yio Chu Kang, but the former MP in the area was Dr Koh. Mr Henry Kwek will be standing in Kebun Baru.
Ang Mo Kio GRC saw walkovers for three elections after its formation in 1991, and was contested in 2006 by the Workers’ Party. The Reform Party fielded a team there in 2011 and 2015.
In 2015, the PAP won Ang Mo Kio GRC with 78.64 per cent of the votes against an RP team that included blogger Roy Ngerng and lawyer M Ravi.
RP has said that it intends to contest there again and in Yio Chu Kang SMC. The Progress Singapore Party is also eyeing Yio Chu Kang, potentially setting up a three-cornered fight in the SMC. PSP is also contesting in Kebun Baru.
"THIS IS A HARD FIGHT"
Responding to a question on how there could be an “opposition wipeout” in the election, Mr Lee said that he did not see that as a “realistic outcome”.
“This is a hard fight because although we are in crisis and people want a strong government, at the same time, many people are hurting badly … there are real problems on the ground which cause people concern and we can feel it,” he said.
“That is why we are calling the election in order to be able to be in a position to do something decisive about it.”
He called it a “tactic” by the opposition, saying: “Because the last time the opposition said the wrong thing, they were overconfident … So this time they're trying to do the opposite.”
Mr Lee also said that his brother, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, is within his rights as a citizen to choose to join the PSP.
“This GE is not about me or any family disputes which may involve my brother and me. It's about Singapore's future at very grave moment in our history, when we are facing the most serious crisis we have seen since independence. Health, jobs, and the future - and I think we should focus our attention on those big issues.”