The candidates

All the single (seat) women

 PAP's Amy Khor who is running for Hong Kah North SMC being held up by supporters at Chua Chu Kang Primary School.
PAP's Amy Khor who is running for Hong Kah North SMC being held up by supporters at Chua Chu Kang Primary School.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
SPP member Lina Chiam (Centre) faces the media at a nomination centre as she arrives to file documents on Nomination Day ahead of a Sept 11 snap general election in Singapore on Sept 1, 2015.
SPP member Lina Chiam (Centre) faces the media at a nomination centre as she arrives to file documents on Nomination Day ahead of a Sept 11 snap general election in Singapore on Sept 1, 2015. PHOTO: AFP
Ms Jeannette Chong-Alrudoss, SPP candidate will contest Mountbatten SMC in the upcoming 2015 General Election.
Ms Jeannette Chong-Alrudoss, SPP candidate will contest Mountbatten SMC in the upcoming 2015 General Election. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Eight of the 13 SMCs will have at least one woman in the running, a record number

Women will contest more than half of the single-member constituencies (SMCs) at the polls on Sept 11, a record number since the group representation constituency (GRC) system was introduced in 1988.

Eight of these 13 SMCs will have at least one woman in the running, compared with five in 12 SMCs in the 2011 General Election.

In fact, 2011 was already a breakthrough year - it was the first time since 1991 that women were fielded in SMCs and was done forcefully, as in 1991 only two of the 21 SMCs had women candidates.

Political observers said it was a sign of the times: that women can hold their own in the political arena, as they do in other areas.

The PAP is fielding four women in SMCs, double that in 2011. They make up one-fifth of the 20 woman candidates the party is fielding for the 89 seats in the current election.

The duo in the previous election were Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who contested Yuhua SMC, and Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor, who stood in Hong Kah North SMC.

They were among the best performers in the PAP.

Dr Khor was the party's top scorer, with 70.6 per cent of the vote, while Ms Fu was third among all the SMCs, with 66.9 per cent.

Given their stellar showing, the PAP's decision to double the number of women in SMCs may be an astute move.

It is notable that one of the four is a new face: Ms Cheryl Chan, 38, head of secondary industries at multinational gas and engineering company Linde Group.

She also chalked up a first in the PAP, in that a first-time candidate is running solo in a newly formed SMC, Fengshan, since the GRC system was formed in 1988.

She replaces former transport minister Raymond Lim, who is quitting politics after 14 years.

Fengshan sits in the middle of East Coast GRC, much like the hole in a doughnut. That the party sent a new face rather than redeploy a heavyweight there has prompted talk that Ms Chan may be a "sacrificial lamb".

The PAP, however, said it is banking on her track record to pull in the votes. It was pointed out at her candidate introduction session that she has cut her teeth volunteering at the grassroots level in the ward for more than 10 years.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who anchors the PAP's East Coast GRC team, said Ms Chan was the "best person" because of her deep engagement there and the party has "strong confidence" in her.

She faces another electoral newbie: lawyer Dennis Tan, 45, of the Workers' Party (WP).

At MacPherson SMC, carved out from Marine Parade GRC, is first-term MP Tin Pei Ling. She has overcome her rocky start in 2011, when she was mocked for being young and immature.

She was aged 27. Now 31, she is once again the PAP's youngest candidate. But this time, she seems to have won over residents with her work ethic.

In place of the cruel criticisms online four years ago are messages of support from Singaporeans, with many applauding her for her empathy and heart on the ground.

Reflecting on that period last week, Ms Tin said: "Back then, in 2011, I was a newbie. There are things that I may not have done that well."

She added: "We have been here for the past four years and what drives us is really the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of people in MacPherson."

She will have to see off two challengers to keep her seat. They are funeral services company executive Bernard Chen, 29, of the WP, and former MP Cheo Chai Chen, 64, of the National Solidarity Party (NSP).Mr Cheo was the MP of the now-defunct Nee Soon Central SMC from 1991 to 1997 under the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) banner.

Meanwhile, Dr Khor, 57, and Ms Fu, 51, have served their respective wards for 14 years and nine years respectively.

Dr Khor's Hong Kah North SMC appeared on the electoral map in 2011, having been carved out of the now-defunct Hong Kah GRC.

She soundly beat Mr Sin Kek Tong of Singapore People's Party (SPP) in 2011, and will seek another strong mandate, this time against an electoral first-timer: blogger Ravi Philemon, 47, of the SPP.

Yuhua SMC has seen a history of contests pitting two women against each other. This year is no different.

In 1988 and 1991, the PAP's Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon went up against Ms Toh Kim Kiat of the SDP, winning 63 per cent and 56.2 per cent of the vote respectively.

The SMC was then absorbed into the now-defunct Bukit Timah GRC in 1997, before it was resurrected in the 2011 polls.

Ms Fu defeated the SDP's Teo Soh Lung, a former political detainee, winning 66.9 per cent of the vote. This time, her rival is sales director Jaslyn Go, 43, also from the SDP.

Another incumbent seeking to keep her seat is Punggol East SMC's Lee Li Lian, 37, of the WP.

She won the seat in a 2013 by-election after PAP MP Michael Palmer, who had defeated her in 2011, stepped down because of an extra- marital affair.

Seeking to unseat her is the PAP's Charles Chong, 62, a veteran backbencher who hopes to win a seventh term in Parliament.

Two opposition candidates returned to their 2011 battleground, hoping to reverse the result.

In Mountbatten SMC, Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, 52, is mounting her second challenge against a fellow lawyer, PAP's Lim Biow Chuan, also 52.

But her party stripes are different now: She dons SPP's red-and-white instead of NSP's orange. She left NSP earlier this year after a failed bid for its president post.

In recent weeks, she has ramped up her campaign to wrest the seat from Mr Lim, who got 58.6 per cent of the vote in 2011.

Last week, she held a picnic for residents and, on Monday, she launched her five- year plan for the area.

Also staying put is fellow SPP comrade Lina Chiam, who hopes to win back the former opposition stronghold of Potong Pasir SMC from the PAP's Sitoh Yih Pin.

Mrs Chiam, 66, lost by a wafer- thin 114 votes in 2011, after her husband Chiam See Tong left it to contest next-door Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. Her loss ended 27 years of opposition rule in the SMC.

Mr Chiam, 80, is not contesting this election, and is supporting his wife's campaign.

The last woman candidate in an SMC is also the youngest in this election: independent Han Hui Hui, 24.

The blogger will face off against PAP incumbent Sam Tan, 56, and Mr Kumar Appavoo, 46, of the Reform Party in Radin Mas SMC.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'All the single (seat) women'. Print Edition | Subscribe