SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party (WP) will contest a total of 28 seats in the next General Election: 5 Group Representation Constituencies and 5 Single Member Constituencies, party chairman Sylvia Lim told Channel NewsAsia on Sunday (Jul 26).
That figure represents a total of 5 more candidates fielded than in the GE four years ago, when they had 23 candidates.
The 5 GRCs they will contest are Aljunied - a constituency they are defending, having wrested it from the People's Action Party in the 2011 GE - as well as Marine Parade, East Coast, Jalan Besar and Nee Soon, Ms Lim said.
Aljunied, Marine Parade, Nee Soon are five-member GRCs, while East Coast and Jalan Besar are four-member GRCs.
The 5 SMCs where they will field a candidate are Hougang and Punggol East, where they are the incumbents, as well as Fengshan, MacPherson and Sengkang West.
"We noticed that there is Fengshan SMC, which was carved out of East Coast which we contested, so naturally we would want to go there," said Ms Lim. "There's a new SMC in MacPherson - that's very close to Jalan Besar GRC that we are also planning to contest."
All the GRCs bar Nee Soon are in the east or north-east of Singapore, near to the constituencies they currently hold - Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East.
"Many of the areas are quite near to each other, contiguous in many cases. So it's logical for us to concentrate on the areas that we are familiar with," she said.
In 2011, they contested 4 GRCs - Aljunied, East Coast, Moumein-Kallang (parts of which now constitute Jalan Besar) and Nee Soon - and 4 SMCs: Hougang, Punggol East, Sengkang West and Joo Chiat, which has been dissolved by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee.
In response to a media query on why the WP would challenge the ruling party in Marine Parade, which had previously been contested by the National Solidarity Party in 2011, Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang said: "As a matter of principle, the Workers' Party will contest where we have contested before.
"In this case, Joo Chiat is being redrawn into Marine Parade. We don't want to disappoint voters in Joo Chiat. We want to offer them a choice again in this election."
Joo Chiat saw a closely-fought battle in the last General Election in 2011, where the PAP's Charles Chong edged out the WP's Yee Jenn Jong by 388 votes.
"Joo Chiat SMC was absorbed into Marine Parade GRC. Of course we're quite disappointed with that," added Ms Lim. "We've done quite a lot of groundwork there. With Yee Jenn Jong working hard on the ground, it's natural that we would also plan to contest in Marine Parade GRC."
STAKING THEIR CLAIM
Ms Lim's announcement on Sunday bucks the trend of statements some other Opposition figures had made that to prevent multi-corner fights, the parties would first meet before each announcing their intentions.
The Singaporeans First Party founder Tan Jee Say had said that the "consensus" among the parties was to avoid contesting the same wards as other parties, while Mr Sebastian Teo, president of the National Solidarity Party, said the parties would first have "internal discussions" before talking to the other Opposition parties.
Acting Secretary-General Hazel Poa also told reporters that the NSP will extend an invitation to other Opposition parties to meet on Friday evening.
Asked if the WP will attend the meeting, Ms Lim said: "Historically, we've always attended these meetings of the Opposition parties and I think this time we would still want to try and avoid any three-corner fights if possible."