Hot seats: SMCs to watch - Potong Pasir

It's Sitoh versus Lina Chiam again

PAP candidateSitoh Yih Pin greeting Mr Chiam See Tong, who arrived in a wheelchair with his daughter Camilla, at the nomination centre in Kong Hwa School yesterday.
PAP candidateSitoh Yih Pin greeting Mr Chiam See Tong, who arrived in a wheelchair with his daughter Camilla, at the nomination centre in Kong Hwa School yesterday.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

With a potential three-cornered fight averted in Potong Pasir SMC, the People's Action Party's (PAP) Sitoh Yih Pin and Singapore People's Party's Lina Chiam were left to renew their rivalry in the coming general election.

Independent candidate Tan Lam Siong, a former National Solidarity Party secretary-general, withdrew from the contest early yesterday, saying in a blog post that he had seen Mrs Chiam at a carpark late on Monday night and she "looked rather haggard".

"I began to have this feeling of sadness," wrote the lawyer, 54.

He said he decided not to contest. "Instead, I will lead my team to show our support for Mrs Chiam at her rally."

Another independent candidate, Mr Zeng Guoyuan, 63, also threw in the towel, saying he should not "interfere" as Mr Sitoh and Mrs Chiam are neck and neck, and Mr Chiam is his good friend.

Mrs Chiam, 66, the wife of opposition veteran Chiam See Tong, who held Potong Pasir for 27 years, said she had not met Mr Tan, but felt "very confident" about clawing back the ward she had lost by just 114 votes to Mr Sitoh, 51.

"(It) looks very promising... I am a bit more comfortable this time round as I have done my stint as a Non-Constituency MP and the response from the residents has been very positive," said Mrs Chiam, who ran for the first time in 2011.

"(Mr Chiam) will be mentoring me and supporting me."

Mr Chiam, who contested the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in 2011, will not run this time.

In his speech at the nomination centre in Kong Hwa School, Mr Sitoh, who had run and lost against Mr Chiam twice, said: "Four years ago, I stood here asking you to give me a chance. Today, I stand here again. Please give me another chance, please vote for me."

On his manifesto, he told reporters: "We are going to put (in) new lighting, covered walkways. All these came from feedback from the residents. In Potong Pasir, we have the 'ABCD' spirit - acting beyond call of duty."

Rivalry was set aside and both sides cheered when Mr Chiam, 80, arrived at Kong Hwa School in a wheelchair with his daughter, Camilla, 39.

Ms Chiam, head of communications at a property development company, said: "(My parents) are not in politics for the fame or the money or anything like that.

"I hope the residents can see that it's true passion and commitment and really love and care for the residents that she's doing this."

Supporters on both sides expressed confidence in their candidates.

Said Madam Rosalind Kang, 70, a retiree: "(The Chiams) are very sincere and nice. I really admire them. Mr Chiam has done a lot of things for us and I hope to see them come back."

For long-time PAP supporter Boey Teng Kai, a retiree, the transformation in Singapore is the reason for supporting the party.

The 83-year-old said: "The PAP has done a good job and it has done a lot for Singaporeans in terms of policies.

"We have everything now compared to in the past."

  • Additional reporting by Olivia Ho and Lydia Lam
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'It's Sitoh versus Lina Chiam again'. Print Edition | Subscribe