Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang to stay and defend Aljunied

Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang greet residents at Hougang and Punggol East constituency Hari Raya celebration held at Blk 188A Rivervale Drive, on Aug 1, 2015.
Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang greet residents at Hougang and Punggol East constituency Hari Raya celebration held at Blk 188A Rivervale Drive, on Aug 1, 2015.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

WP chief wants to keep serving residents and thank them for giving his team a chance in 2011

Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang yesterday said he would stay and defend Aljunied GRC at the next election, to thank residents for giving his team a chance at the last election.

Their support has brought Singapore closer to the goal of having a "First World Parliament", he said, referring to his party's slogan and promise in the 2011 General Election. As a result, the Government had become more responsive and also made "many policy U-turns" for the people's benefit, he added.

Mr Low was speaking to reporters before his Meet-the-People Session last night at Block 522, Hougang Avenue 6.

He said: "I want to continue to serve residents of Aljunied GRC... I'm very happy that their support has resulted in a better and more responsive Government."

In 2011, Mr Low had made a surprise move from Hougang Single- Member Constituency, where he had been a Member of Parliament for 20 years, to lead his party's charge in Aljunied GRC.

MAKING INTENTIONS CLEAR

If we are going to a particular constituency to contest, then I want to make it clear to everybody (that) this is what our intentions are. We would not want to hide. So when we say we are going to these areas, we are serious about that... So we are being honest with everybody: 'Look, this is the constituency we are looking at' (and) hopefully there will be no three-cornered fights.

MR LOW THIA KHIANG, secretary-general of the Workers' Party, on why the party announced its intentions early

The WP won 54.7 per cent of the votes, beating the People's Action Party (PAP) team and becoming the first opposition party to win a group representation constituency. The victory has since sparked speculation about whether he will move to another constituency in the next election.

But even as he confirmed he would stay in Aljunied GRC, the WP secretary-general declined to disclose if his fellow MPs - WP chairman Sylvia Lim, Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Chen Show Mao and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap - would do the same.

He said: "We will give you more information about the candidates... let's be patient."

Yesterday, Mr Low also made it clear that the WP will not budge from the areas where it had staked a claim, like Marine Parade GRC, even as the party does its best to avoid three-cornered fights, he added.

Its insistence on contesting Marine Parade GRC puts the party on a collision course with the National Solidarity Party, which contested the constituency in 2011.

At a meeting of all opposition parties on Monday, both refused to give in and another meeting is scheduled for today, with all signs pointing to an uphill task in reaching a consensus.

Explaining why the WP wants Marine Parade GRC, Mr Low said that with Joo Chiat going to be a part of the GRC, the WP has to contest there. He pointed out that WP Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong lost by only 388 votes to PAP's Mr Charles Chong in Joo Chiat SMC in the last election.

"That is a factor which we cannot ignore. And are we going to say 'Sorry, Joo Chiat residents, because you're now being drawn into Marine Parade, we back off'?"

He added: "We are a serious party, we take the support of the voters seriously, we will go in. If this is what they want, we will put up a fight and take the challenge."

He also said that moving to other areas was not feasible as the WP's base is in the eastern part of Singapore, and it did not have the resources to "go to the west or go all over Singapore".

He said three-cornered fights are inevitable as more political parties appear on the scene.

While he is happy to see Singaporeans having more choices, it also means "you end up with three-cornered fights'', he said, adding: "But that is a reality which we have to (try to) manage."

Asked about other parties possibly running against the WP in Aljunied GRC, Mr Low said: "It is a right of every opposition party to contest (wherever they) wish."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline 'Low Thia Khiang to stay and defend Aljunied'. Print Edition | Subscribe