Veteran of tough battles likely to join PAP team in Aljunied

Four-term MP Yeo Guat Kwang may be fielded in Eunos division or Serangoon.
Four-term MP Yeo Guat Kwang may be fielded in Eunos division or Serangoon.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Veteran MP Yeo Guat Kwang is likely to be fielded in Aljunied GRC to shore up the PAP slate that will challenge the Workers' Party in the coming general election, said party sources.

If so, the 54-year-old will likely be fielded either in the Serangoon or Eunos division in place of current branch chairmen Chan Hui Yuh, 38, or Chua Eng Leong, 44, in the PAP's team of five candidates.

The other three candidates are likely to be insurance firm manager Victor Lye, 52; lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai, 47; and former teacher Shamsul Kamar, 43.

The four-term MP, described by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last week as a veteran of tough political fights, had been expected to retire, as new candidate Darryl David will be fielded in his Ang Mo Kio GRC spot in the coming polls.

PAP leaders, however, asked him to contest Aljunied GRC, which the WP won in 2011, to boost the team with his experience and connection to the Chinese ground, party sources said.

PAP activists in Aljunied GRC said Mr Yeo has been attending late-night strategy meetings in the constituency recently.

Mr Yeo entered politics in 1997 as part of the PAP team which scored a slim victory in Cheng San GRC over a WP team led by the late J.B. Jeyaretnam.

After the constituency was dissolved, parts of Mr Yeo's ward remained in the current Aljunied GRC. He contested the 2006 elections on the PAP's Aljunied slate, but his division was redrawn into Ang Mo Kio GRC in the 2011 General Election.

When contacted, Mr Yeo declined to comment on where he would be fielded.

"The party has yet to decide and I will go with the party's decision. I believe the party will always put the candidate in the best fit," he said.

The PAP's slates in the constituencies held by the WP - Aljunied GRC and the Punggol East and Hougang single seats - have been shaken up in recent months as activists lobbied party leaders to send candidates of greater stature to show the ruling party is serious about winning back the constituencies.

To that end, veteran MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong has been working the ground in Punggol East for the past month and is likely to be fielded there against the WP incumbent Lee Li Lian.

Last month, the PAP also replaced its presumed Malay candidate in Aljunied GRC, Mr Kahar Hassan. His position as branch chairman in Kaki Bukit is set to be taken over by Mr Shamsul today.

•Additional reporting by Toh Yong Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Veteran of tough battles likely to join PAP team in Aljunied'. Print Edition | Subscribe