Three-cornered fights - Radin Mas SMC

Sam Tan ready for challengers

(From left) PAP candidate Sam Tan faces independent candidate Han Hui Hui, a 23-year-old activist and blogger, and the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, a 46-year-old businessman.
PAP candidate Sam Tan faces independent candidate Han Hui Hui (above), a 23-year-old activist and blogger, and the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, a 46-year-old businessman.ST PHOTOS: LIM SIN THAI
(From left) PAP candidate Sam Tan faces independent candidate Han Hui Hui, a 23-year-old activist and blogger, and the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, a 46-year-old businessman.
PAP candidate Sam Tan faces independent candidate Han Hui Hui, a 23-year-old activist and blogger (above), and the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, a 46-year-old businessman.ST PHOTOS: LIM SIN THAI
(From left) PAP candidate Sam Tan faces independent candidate Han Hui Hui, a 23-year-old activist and blogger, and the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, a 46-year-old businessman.
PAP candidate Sam Tan faces independent candidate Han Hui Hui, a 23-year-old activist and blogger, and the Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, a 46-year-old businessman (above).ST PHOTOS: LIM SIN THAI

The People's Action Party (PAP) candidate at Radin Mas will take his challengers seriously, after two turned up to contest the ward.

Civil society activist and blogger Han Hui Hui, 23, joined Reform Party's Kumar Appavoo, 46, to try to win the ward from the PAP's Sam Tan.

The constituency is one of three single-seat wards to have a three-way contest, but Mr Tan, 57, is not surprised by the turn of events. "It doesn't come as a surprise," he said, noting that the possibility of a three-way fight at Radin Mas had been reported in the press for some time.

Three-cornered fights have tended to favour PAP candidates in the past, especially since the opposition vote tends to get split between the two non-PAP contenders.

Independent candidates are also unlikely to win, as has been the case in the past, said Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan. But they may see elections as a way to promote their cause.

"The general election gives them a soapbox on which they can stand. There is also free publicity with all the media coverage. And contesting a GE adds to their credentials, as it shows that they are committed to promoting their cause," he said.

But Mr Sam Tan, who is the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, dismissed the suggestion that a three-cornered fight always favours the PAP.

"If the parties standing for elections have very clear policy proposals to serve the country and people, they will get voters' support," he said, adding: "Multi-cornered fights can still pose challenges to the ruling party. It is not a one-sided affair."

He also said the rising interest in elections was a positive development for a democratic system.

The two other candidates also did not seem to be too worried about a three-way fight.

Mr Kumar, a businesssman, said he is not concerned about the contest not being a straight one- on-one fight between RP and PAP. "It all depends on the candidates and their vision for the particular area that they're contesting. I don't see this as a challenge," he said.

The director at an oil and gas company is also not worried about losing his deposit, adding that he has an edge over independent candidate Ms Han.

Candidates must obtain at least 12.5 per cent of the votes cast or they will forfeit the deposit of $14,500 for an SMC.

"With a party platform and vision, I think I do stand a better chance," Mr Kumar said. He added that he will also raise a wider range of issues on the hustings than Ms Han. He said that he will be holding walkabouts at coffee shops, playgrounds and hawker centres in Radin Mas, but there are no plans to hold any rallies yet.

Ms Han said that she will bring up issues relating to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system, healthcare and housing during her campaign. She picked the flower symbol for her campaign.

When asked about her chances of winning, Ms Han, who has organised several protests at Hong Lim Park over the CPF system, said "elections are not about winning but about helping people".

She said that she plans to reach out to residents on walkabouts and door-to-door visits.

"That's what I did for the Return Our CPF campaign," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'Sam Tan ready for challengers'. Print Edition | Subscribe