PAP MP Edwin Tong, likely to be fielded in Joo Chiat, hopes to preserve division's heritage

PAP MP Edwin Tong and Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also the anchor minister for Marine Parade GRC, chatting with residents at LTN Coffeeshop in Upper East Coast Road on Sunday, Aug 16, 2015.
PAP MP Edwin Tong and Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also the anchor minister for Marine Parade GRC, chatting with residents at LTN Coffeeshop in Upper East Coast Road on Sunday, Aug 16, 2015.ST PHOTO: JOANNA SEOW

SINGAPORE - People's Action Party Member of Parliament Edwin Tong, who represents Moulmein-Kallang GRC but is expected to run in Marine Parade GRC in the coming general election, said on Sunday that he welcomes the challenge of moving to a new area.

"Demographically it's different. It's 100 per cent private; there is an ageing population," he told reporters at LTN Coffeeshop in Upper East Coast Road, after a dialogue session with residents.

"It's somewhat bespoke in terms of the kind of solutions we find...we have to learn to put the right solutions and tailor-make them for the right municipal area and the right people," said Mr Tong, adding that the Frankel, Opera, Telok Kurau and East Coast estates all have their different characteristics.

Mr Tong, who has been visiting residents along with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and anchor minister Tan Chuan-Jin, both MPs for Marine Parade GRC, said he hopes to work with interest groups to preserve Joo Chiat's "rich culture and rich heritage", including its Peranakan history.

"While improvement and betterment of local facilities is important, we must not lose sight of the fact that we have heritage and culture to preserve," said the first-term MP.

 
 

Joo Chiat SMC has been absorbed into Marine Parade GRC for the elections, and current Joo Chiat MP Charles Chong is expected to contest the Workers' Party-held Punggol East SMC.

When asked whether the movement of candidates could lead to residents feeling "abandoned" by Mr Chong, Mr Tan, who is Minister for Social and Family Development, said the transition needs to be managed.

"Over time, residents would develop an affinity and a certain comfort zone with each individual candidate and I think every time there's a change it's obviously disruptive," he said.

Mr Tan added: "Edwin has been going around visiting the residents, ESM as well, and sometimes together with him, to get to know the residents and assure them that, really, we're here for the long term.

"We have been serving the people for a very long time. Individuals may change but as a system, as a team, we endeavour that needs are met at a national level."

Residents who spoke with the two MPs at the coffeeshop dialogue session raised issues such as elderly residents needing more transport options and befrienders.

Frankel Neighbourhood Committee 1 chairman Rachel Ong said she felt Mr Tan and Mr Tong raised issues that are pertinent to the area.

She added that she spoke up about how the residents are trying to find ways to grow a network to bring the elderly people together, especially those who are living alone with no support.

"They said they are looking into it, which is also what residents want," said Ms Ong.