PAP slate for Marsiling-Yew Tee taking shape, SDP looks forward to good fight in the new GRC

Alex Yam (second row, fifth from left) in a group photograph with his Yew Tee team at a Peoples' Association event held at the Orchid Country Club.
Alex Yam (second row, fifth from left) in a group photograph with his Yew Tee team at a Peoples' Association event held at the Orchid Country Club.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - A day after Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong announced he would be standing in the new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, the People's Action Party slate for the constituency looks to be firming up.

Both Mr Alex Yam, who oversees the Yew Tee ward in Chua Chu Kang GRC, and Mr Ong Teng Koon, who looks after Woodgrove which before the boundary changes was part of Sembawang GRC, have said they would like to continue serving in their current wards though they stressed that their final deployment is up to the party.

But the Malay candidate for the GRC seems to still be up in the air. Talk among party activists points to Senior Parliamentary Secretary of State for Manpower and Education Hawazi Daipi - who is now MP for Marsiling ward in Sembawang GRC  - making his departure before the coming elections.

And Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has been frequently raised as his likely replacement when Marsiling ward joins the new GRC.

"You now have (Ong) Teng Koon and myself, as well as Minister Lawrence. We still have another person to fill," said Mr Yam on Sunday.

"Encik Hawazi is the incumbent at Marsiling. We will wait for news on whether he will continue to run."

If Mr Hawazi - who has helped build support in Marsiling - does retire, a strong minority candidate has to come in, added Mr Yam.

When asked about the possibility of that replacement being Madam Halimah, who has over a decade of experience in politics, he said: "If Madam Halimah does come when Encik Hawazi indicates his retirement then it will be good for the GRC as a whole."

Mr Yam showed Mr Wong around the southern part of Yew Tee on Sunday morning, and both of them mingled with residents in a food court at Limbang Shopping Centre.

Mr Wong is a good choice, added Mr Yam.

"He's a very approachable, knowledgeable, very friendly minister and that is something I think our residents here in Yew Tee as well as Marsiling and Woodgrove would definitely welcome," he said.

As Mr Yam visited blocks in along Choa Chu Kang Crescent on Sunday morning, the Singapore Democratic Party was in the same area making its house visits.

The party has expressed interest in standing in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, and welcomed news of Mr Wong joining the fight there.

"For us we take it as a compliment," said SDP chief Chee Soon Juan.

Bringing a young, strong minister in gives them the sense that "this place is some place that PAP is taking us seriously".