SINGAPORE: Progress Singapore Party (PSP) will challenge the People’s Action Party (PAP) in Tanjong Pagar GRC, after both sides successfully filed their nomination papers on Tuesday (Jun 30).
The PAP’s team comprises Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, backbencher Joan Pereira, as well new candidates Mr Alvin Tan who is a LinkedIn senior executive and Mr Eric Chua, a former public servant.
PSP is fielding organising secretary Michael Chua, IT executive Harish Pillay, lawyer Wendy Low, pilot Terence Soon and workplace safety senior trainer Abas Kasmani.
In 2015, the PAP ran against the now-defunct Singaporeans First (SingFirst) in Tanjong Pagar and won with 78 per cent of the vote. SingFirst chief Tan Jee Say, a former presidential candidate, announced on Jun 25 that he will dissolve the party in the name of “opposition unity and cooperation”.
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PSP member Lee Hsien Yang, who is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s brother, is not part of the team for Tanjong Pagar, ending speculation that he could be fielded in the five-member GRC as a surprise candidate.
Mr Lee was, however, present with the team earlier in the morning as they gathered at a nearby coffee shop before heading to the nomination centre.
When asked about this, Mr Michael Chua said Mr Lee is a “very good friend” to Dr Tan and the party and has been an adviser to PSP’s Tanjong Pagar team.
“He wants us to share and learn from him in terms of his political knowledge and understanding of the political process,” Mr Chua said. “So he definitely wanted to be with us to give us the moral support. And he also wants to be the catalyst in the political process.”
To do this, Mr Chua said Mr Lee has to be a member of a political party, but not necessarily a candidate.
“He can play a very important part to help us to effect some changes in the electorate, to change the mental model of voters so they look beyond people qualification,” he added.
“We are looking for people with heart and hopefully our commitment and efforts can be recognised by the voters of Tanjong Pagar.”
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Tanjong Pagar GRC is considered a PAP stronghold, with former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew running there in every election from 1955 to 2011.
More than 134,600 people are eligible to vote in the constituency.
Mr Chan Chun Sing said the PAP team will do its best to secure a mandate from residents, stating that they would have seen what his team had done for the constituency for many years.
“We really want to continue to this partnership with the residents of Tanjong Pagar,” he said. “If you look at us, there’s a very strong sense of passion and close relationship with residents. And the last thing we want to see is our residents not well taken care of.”
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But the PSP team had a last-minute hiccup when it emerged that they had forgotten to fill in the constituency name in their nomination paper.
Ms Indranee said the PAP team noticed this during the 12pm to 12.30pm window, when opposing parties scrutinise nomination papers and candidates are not allowed to make changes.
“So technically, there was a right to object, but we decided not to,” she said.
PAP’s Mr Chan said his team noticed the technical error and “immediately” informed PSP.
“We wanted to give Tanjong Pagar residents the chance to give us a strong mandate,” he said. “So we don’t want to not give that choice to residents just because of a technical error.”
PSP’s Mr Chua said the oversight came about when one of the team’s assentors pulled out, requiring the submission of a new form.
When asked about Mr Chan’s comments, Mr Chua said he spotted a potential error in one of the PAP’s forms too, referring to how PAP’s Tanjong Pagar candidate Eric Chua’s occupation was listed as “retired SCDF officer”.
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“That is not an occupation,” he said. “If you really want to discuss, that will be retired or unemployed, depending on the age.”
On Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for PAP's Tanjong Pagar team said it was surprised by these comments.
"No such issue was raised at the nomination centre, as should be done under the rules if there was indeed an issue," the spokesperson said.
Mr Michael Chua said in the spirit of competition, PSP wants to give Singapore and Tanjong Pagar residents a choice between two “very good teams”.
“It’s not about paperwork, because at the end of the day, it’s a report card for the ruling party.”