Have an eye on the future, but do not forget work done in the past.
That was the message from several People's Action Party (PAP) heavyweights yesterday at Yishun Primary School - where candidates submitted forms to stand in Sembawang, Nee Soon and Marsiling-Yew Tee GRCs.
Madam Halimah Yacob, part of the PAP's four-man team for Marsiling-Yew Tee, reminded supporters: "Although we are a new GRC, we are not new in terms of service." Marsiling-Yew Tee takes in about 61,000 voters from Sembawang GRC, and another 46,000 from Chua Chu Kang GRC, where the PAP polled strongly in the past.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who fronts the five-man PAP team in Sembawang, said what is key is not what happens in the next nine days of campaigning, but rather what has happened in the past 41/2 years. In that time, his team, which will face the National Solidarity Party at the polls, has worked with residents to "redevelop and refresh Woodlands and Yishun, and to expand Sembawang", he said.
There will be waterfront housing and businesses in Woodlands. Discussions are already ongoing with residents on the proposed Sembawang Community Hub, new hawker centre, swimming pool and polyclinic. Around 8,000 more HDB flats will rise on currently barren land. All the new developments, said Mr Khaw, will be "friendly for all age groups".
Just before leaving the nomination centre, he added: "Sembawang is a distinctive community with a strong kampung spirit, and we plan to make it stronger."
Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam also highlighted the work his five-man PAP team has been doing in Nee Soon, where he is standing with two-term MP Lee Bee Wah. "I have been here for 27 years. The rest have been here for many years too... Our supporters trust us... trust and honesty and integrity are the key things."
Amid the sea of white at the school were pockets of Workers' Party (WP) blue and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) red. The WP may have "spread itself a little too thin" by gunning for five GRCs and five SMCs, said lawyer Gurmit Singh, whose team is contesting Nee Soon. "But we have people who are hardworking and devoted, so we should have no problems."
Psychologist John Tan, who contested Sembawang in 2011, will now stand in neighbouring Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC with an SDP team that includes former political detainee Wong Souk Yee. He, too, alluded to the work his party had done in the past - including numerous policy papers put out since launching its campaign in January.
Over at Bendemeer Primary School, a rematch of sorts was set for the revived four-member Jalan Besar GRC. The PAP's Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, who is Minister for Communications and Information, and Central District Mayor Denise Phua were part of the 2011 Moulmein-Kallang GRC team given a stiff battle by a WP team that had polytechnic lecturer L. Somasundaram and medical social worker Frieda Chan. Both pairs face off again.
In Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, the PAP's six-member team led by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is up against a slate led by Singapore Democratic Alliance chief Desmond Lim Bak Chuan. Mr Lim said his team hopes to give the man in the street a voice in Parliament.
When asked what he thought of the competition, Mr Teo said the PAP was the only party that can deliver on a long-term strategy: "It's not empty promises."