Hot seats: SMCs to watch - Sengkang West

Two candidates facing off for second time

Mr Koh Choong Yong from the WP (left) and Mr Lam Pin Min from the PAP will be contesting Sengkang West SMC.
Mr Koh Choong Yong from the WP (left) and Mr Lam Pin Min from the PAP will be contesting Sengkang West SMC. PHOTO: WORKER'S PARTY, ST FILE

Software engineer Koh Choong Yong from the Workers' Party will face off against two-term People's Action Party MP Lam Pin Min in Sengkang West for the second time.

After submitting his nomination papers at the Raffles Institution nomination centre yesterday, Mr Koh told the crowd that he was keeping his promise to return to the constituency. He contested in the single-member constituency in 2011, and received 41.9 per cent of the votes against Dr Lam.

Mr Koh will be looking to close this gap. "I stand here once again to seek your support to give me an opportunity to serve you at Sengkang West. On Sept 11, vote Workers' Party, and empower your future," he told the crowd, who cheered as he evoked the party's slogan. This time, 30,097 people will go to the polls.

Among the supporters who believe that Mr Koh has a fighting chance is Sengkang resident Goh Teck Chay. The 51-year-old chef skipped work to "show his support", dressed in the party's trademark shade of light blue.

A hot-button issue in the ward has been a commercial columbarium that was being planned for a plot of land earmarked for a temple.

A hot-button issue in the ward has been a commercial columbarium that was being planned for a plot of land earmarked for a temple. Residents in the neighbouring Build-To-Order homes in Fernvale Lea protested when the project came to light in December last year.

Some residents were upset when Dr Lam sat at the same table as the commercial developer at a dialogue in January.

On the sidelines of an event on Sunday, Dr Lam acknowledged that the columbarium issue could be raised by the opposition in the days ahead, and that it could affect voters to a certain extent. But the Minister of State for Health added that the matter has been largely resolved.

In January, the Government rejected the plans by funeral services firm Eternal Pure Land to build the commercial columbarium. Last month, a second tender for the site closed with four bidders.

Sengkang West resident Peter Leow, a 42-year-old human resource manager, felt that the issue "might affect residents to some extent, especially those who are not aware of the work Dr Lam has done in resolving it".

Mr Leow said Dr Lam had in fact been quick to address the issue and arrange for meetings with the developer and government agencies soon after the news broke.

At the nomination centre yesterday, Dr Lam said it was about building an "endearing home for all".

He said: "I've had the privilege to work and serve you for the past nine years. Together, we have transformed Sengkang West into a dream home. Together, we can achieve more."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'Two candidates facing off for second time'. Print Edition | Subscribe