GE2015: PAP retains Tanjong Pagar GRC with 77.7 per cent of votes

PAP candidates for Tanjong Pagar GRC (from left) Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Ms Joan Pereira, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Ms Indranee Rajah and Mr Melvin Yong.
PAP candidates for Tanjong Pagar GRC (from left) Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Ms Joan Pereira, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Ms Indranee Rajah and Mr Melvin Yong.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) has retained the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's stronghold of Tanjong Pagar GRC, winning 77.7 per cent of votes.

Their oppnents, the Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party, had 22.3 per cent of votes cast.

The PAP slate was led by labour chief Chan Chun Sing, 45. He helmed a team that comprised Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah, 52, surgeon Chia Shi-Lu, 43, and two new faces: former public servant Joan Pereira, 48 , and Mr Melvin Yong, 43, retired assistant police commissioner.

They faced a SingFirst team led by former presidential candidate Tan Jee Say. His team mates are psychiatrist Dr Ang Yong Guan, 61, market risk manager Chirag Desai, 38, trainer and communication and media consultant Fahmi Rais, 48, and sales executive Melvyn Chiu, 36.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Chan said he was very thankful for the strong mandate. "My team and I will accept this responsibility with a humble heart. Your support is the biggest motivation for us. We won't stop at this. We'll continue to work hard, continue to build on our good foundation and create a better Tanjong Pagar."

Commenting on the results, SingFirst chief Tan Jee Say said it was " even worse than what we expected".

"There's a substantial national swing across the country towards the ruling party," he said. "We really have to sit back and think what has happened. This is really contrary to the feedback we've recieved from the ground. Everywhere we went , it looked like people were angrier and more disappointed with government policy."

Tanjong Pagar GRC has not been contested since 1991. This is also the constituency's first election without founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had represented Tanjong Pagar since 1955 until he died on March 23 this year.

Many had expected the PAP to retain the constituency by a comfortable margin.

For one thing, SingFirst is one of the newest political parties in Singapore, having been set up only in May last year. Issues such as transport congestion are also less pressing in the area, being located in the city centre.

SingFirst's candidates have hit out hard at what they see as over liberal immigration policies by the PAP government. While they have insisted that they are neither xenophobic nor anti-foreigner, they took issue with foreigners taking jobs away from local professionals, managers and executives.

They also said they will push to provide monthly cash stipends of $300 a month for children and the elderly, and subsidise healthcare, transport and childcare fees if elected.

Mr Chan of the PAP team described these ideas as a way of bribing Singaporeans. The former army chief, who is also a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, has said that the election is not just about raising issues, but also about putting in place a team that can plan for the future.