Contests in three single-seat constituencies: Top scorer

Amy Khor not taking chances

Mr Ravi Philemon (above) has vowed to be accessible to all voters in Hong Kah North. Dr Amy Khor (left) says she has always tried to strike up personal relationships with residents so that they will trust her with their concerns.
Dr Amy Khor says she has always tried to strike up personal relationships with residents so that they will trust her with their concerns.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, WONG KWAI CHOW
Mr Ravi Philemon (above) has vowed to be accessible to all voters in Hong Kah North.
Mr Ravi Philemon (above) has vowed to be accessible to all voters in Hong Kah North.

One was the PAP's top scorer at the last election, another pulled slightly above the ruling party's national vote share, and a third is in a new single seat - facing a three-way fight. We look at how the contests in three SMCs in the west are shaping up.

She may have been the People's Action Party's top scorer in Hong Kah North SMC in 2011, but Dr Amy Khor is taking no chances.

When The Straits Times accompanied her on her house visits in Bukit Batok on Wednesday, she went door to door, her 1.49m frame propped up on three-inch sandals, distributing fliers and tissue packets as she urged residents to vote for her.

Most recognised her and opened their doors for the 57-year-old mother of three who has represented the ward for the past 14 years. Each time she passed someone along the corridor or at a void deck, she would stop to chat in dialect, English, Mandarin and Malay.

Dr Khor explained that she had always tried to strike up personal relationships with residents so that they will trust her with their concerns.

The Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower said: "I find that the most effective way is to be sincere and to really want to do your level best. So it's not a numbers game, how many per cent of votes. "

In 2011, she defeated Singapore People's Party (SPP) candidate Sin Kek Tong by winning 70.6 per cent of the vote. Her rival this time is also from the SPP - social worker and blogger Ravi Philemon, 47.

Dr Khor, who last month shared a five-year plan for the ward, including more than $80 million worth of estate upgrades, said she takes every challenge seriously and intends to cover "every nook and corner" of the ward to meet voters.

"Obviously there will always be some people who may not agree with what I do or the policies implemented by the PAP government," she said. "But I'll always try my best... Each one I convert is one more on our side."

Residents described her as approachable, chatty and a regular presence in the ward of 28,145 voters. Many were not yet familiar with her opponent, Mr Philemon.

Retired factory worker Nancy Leong, 63, said: "Dr Khor turns up at all the community events, she's very hard-working."

IT engineer Surianto, 35, who is from Indonesia and goes by one name, said he has met the MP a few times and found her friendly and down-to-earth. He became a Singapore citizen last year.

He said Mr Philemon visited him last week. "He asked my name and shook my hand," he recalled. "His helpers asked me to vote for him, but I didn't know vote for what."

Mr Philemon unveiled his election manifesto yesterday and pledged to hold three Meet-the-People Sessions each week if elected.

"Some matters are really pressing, and you need to see the MP as soon as possible," he said.

He is also giving residents his personal phone number and e-mail address. "I will be accessible to all the voters in Hong Kah North," he said.

Among other things, he wants to lobby for more bus services and a top-up of 30 years to the lease of older flats built in the 1980s, to give residents a greater sense of security. 

He also promised to set up a $500,000 Hong Kah North Medical Assistance Fund if he is elected, to help residents pay for "essential but non-subsidised" drugs which may be expensive.

He said he intends to use his fund-raising skills honed by his decades in the social services sector to raise the amount over the next five years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Amy Khor not taking chances'. Print Edition | Subscribe