Hot seats: GRCs to watch - Tanjong Pagar

People's Action Party stronghold sees its first contest in 24 years

The SingFirst team contesting Tanjong Pagar GRC includes Mr Chirag Desai and Mr Tan Jee Say. Mr Tan said that he will be campaigning on national issues, especially on immigration.
The SingFirst team contesting Tanjong Pagar GRC includes Mr Chirag Desai and Mr Tan Jee Say. Mr Tan said that he will be campaigning on national issues, especially on immigration.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

After 24 years, Tanjong Pagar GRC residents will finally get to cast their vote.

A People's Action Party (PAP) stronghold, which had been helmed by late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, it has not seen a contest since 1991, until this year.

The contender is the Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party, which was registered in August last year, led by former civil servant and former presidential candidate Tan Jee Say, 61.

Yesterday, SingFirst submitted its papers at Bendemeer Primary School to contest against the PAP team anchored by labour chief Chan Chun Sing, 45.

Mr Chan is joined by Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah, 52; Dr Chia Shi-Lu, 43; as well as new faces Joan Pereira, 48; and retired senior police officer Melvin Yong, 43.

Asked about the competition, Mr Chan said that PAP's record speaks for itself. "The track record of the PAP team serving Tanjong Pagar speaks for itself. We are determined to build on the legacy that Mr Lee has left us and make Tanjong Pagar an even better home for all residents," he added.

For Mr Tan, giving voters a choice was the party's main objective and he said that SingFirst has "made history" by contesting the ward.

He said: "For the first time in 24 years, Tanjong Pagar residents get to vote in their Members of Parliament."

In 1988, when Tanjong Pagar was a single-seat constituency, it was contested by independent M. G. Guru. The late Mr Lee retained the seat with 81.6 per cent of the votes cast.

Joining Mr Tan in the SingFirst team are psychiatrist Ang Yong Guan, 60; sales executive Melvyn Chiu, 36; risk manager Chirag Desai, 38; and media consultant Fahmi Rais, 48.

Mr Tan added that he will be campaigning on national issues, especially on immigration.

"Foreign workers do not just go to Tanjong Pagar. They surface in Little India, the streets of Chinatown."

"Every constituency has that problem of immigration. We are fighting on national issues because only through them can there be salvation for every constituency in Singapore."

Immigration issues are set to be a hot-button topic between the PAP and SingFirst, which has said that the influx of foreign workers has caused the country to "deteriorate greatly".

"This country has been divided by government policies on immigration. They have pitted citizens against foreigners and employers," Mr Tan added.

Asked about SingFirst's strong stance on immigration, Mr Chan said: "The residents will know how to decide." He added that he is "very confident that residents will know what are reasonable and good proposals".

Ms Indranee said that PAP's manifestos are also for Singaporeans, but "without being divisive and without harming the country's racial mix".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'People's Action Party stronghold sees its first contest in 24 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe