Constituency close up: Marine Parade GRC

Means-testing 'must go beyond address'

PAP's candidate for Marine Parade GRC Edwin Tong.
PAP's candidate for Marine Parade GRC Edwin Tong. PHOTO: ST FILE

Traditional means-testing measures may need relooking to ensure people who live in private property and need assistance are not left out of social help programmes.

Lawyer Edwin Tong, a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for Marine Parade GRC, said the long- held assumption that private

estate dwellers have sufficient income "may not be correct in

all cases". "When they say they feel neglected, I think it is because they have been means-tested based on their addresses... We have to go beyond the address," he said last Sunday, after a walkabout with his teammates.

"You've got to look at the income, at whether they own the property they live in, and then assess. Then you have a bespoke solution for the particular resident concerned."

He is in charge of Joo Chiat, a former single-member constituency that is now part of Marine Parade GRC. All 22,000-plus voters in the ward live in houses and condominiums.

Mr Tong, 46, told The Straits Times that he has covered up to 80 per cent of the landed estates since Nomination Day.

First elected in 2011, he was moved to Marine Parade after his Moulmein-Kallang GRC was dissolved in the electoral boundaries review. His teammates in Marine Parade are anchor minister Tan Chuan-Jin, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Mr Seah Kian Peng and Dr Fatimah Lateef.

Mr Goh said Joo Chiat voters may have felt neglected by the Government as they live in private property. "These people have paid taxes; they are retirees. So they felt ignored. They therefore sent the message, 'Please do not take us for granted'."

Team leader Mr Tan said he wants to better understand the residents and their concerns.

"Many of them have ideas on how they could improve their environment and many of them are keen to step forward to work with us to see how to make it a much more conducive community for everyone," he said.

The PAP team faces a challenge from the Workers' Party.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Means-testing 'must go beyond address''. Print Edition | Subscribe