Election battle lines begin to emerge

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) presented the last of its candidates for the 89 seats, revealing its line-up for Aljunied GRC on Friday.
The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) presented the last of its candidates for the 89 seats, revealing its line-up for Aljunied GRC on Friday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Issues and party slates shaping up as PAP unveils its final candidates - for Aljunied GRC

With four days to Nomination Day on Sept 1, the contest for General Election 2015 is taking shape.

Voters are getting a sense of who will contest where, and a flavour of the issues likely to dominate the campaign ahead of the Sept 11 polls - from town council management to immigration policies and the kind of politics Singaporeans want.

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) yesterday presented the last of its candidates for the 89 seats, revealing its line-up for Aljunied GRC.

The team tasked with wresting back the group representation constituency from the Workers' Party (WP) comprises veteran labour MP Yeo Guat Kwang and four first-timers - grassroots leaders Victor Lye, K. Muralidharan Pillai, Chua Eng Leong and Shamsul Kamar.

 
 

They will be up against the WP's "A" team - the Aljunied incumbents led by secretary-general Low Thia Khiang who grabbed the GRC from the PAP in 2011.

While some immediately dubbed the PAP team a "suicide squad" for being assigned to unseat the WP, PAP second assistant secretary-general Tharman Shanmugaratnam said they had a "fighting chance". "They really want to prove their worth and serve the residents better in Aljunied," he said.

The PAP has made clear that it intends to press home the issue of the WP-led Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council's troubled finances. Mr Tharman said this was part of its desire to keep politics here "honest and responsible" and not aimed at putting down the WP.

"I think you know me, you know my personality, my views, you know I've never been against the idea of an opposition in Singapore," he said. "So when I speak about an issue, it's because I'm worried and I want to make sure we have responsible and honest politics in Singapore. That's all."

Across town at the WP headquarters in Syed Alwi Road, party chairman Sylvia Lim responded to the challenge from the PAP's Aljunied team, saying: "We will work hard to retain our seats."

She also told The Straits Times in an interview that the WP's Aljunied team would stay put no matter who the PAP sends. As for its town council's performance, she said: "I do not think that we've let the residents down."

The party yesterday introduced five candidates, with much of the attention on Cambridge-educated lawyer He Ting Ru, who joined after the 2011 General Election. The WP has so far unveiled 13 of the 28 candidates it will be fielding.

The Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party, Reform Party and the Singapore Democratic Party also introduced candidates and revealed their campaign themes.

SingFirst intends to speak up on behalf of Singaporeans "pitted against foreigners" in schools and companies.

The PAP and WP will announce their manifestos today.

This year's general election is expected to see all seats contested for the first time since Independence.

While the PAP has revealed where its candidates will be fielded, the WP and some other opposition parties are keeping their options open for now.

Observers say last-minute changes are possible and nothing is certain until candidates file their papers come Nomination Day.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline 'Election battle lines begin to emerge'. Print Edition | Subscribe