All seven Workers' Party's (WP) MPs will stay in place to defend their seats in the next election, party chairman Sylvia Lim said yesterday, ending speculation that at least one of its big guns was heading to another constituency.
Explaining the decision, she said the team intended to seek a new mandate for another term.
On the Aljunied team in particular, she said: "We feel that it's meaningful for us to continue in Aljunied, continue the work that we've done. We know residents have stuck by us, encouraged us to continue, so we feel that it's meaningful for us to remain as a team."
This also applies to the two single-seat wards it also holds: Hougang and Punggol East.
But the WP MPs will also help its candidates who are contesting other constituencies, Ms Lim said.
FOR BETTERMENT OF SINGAPORE
We think it's a meaningful day for us, especially as an opposition party, to rally our supporters, to remind everyone that what we want is actually to have betterment of Singapore as a whole. I think sometimes people get confused. They can't distinguish between national interest and ruling party interest. We want to underscore the point that even if you're an opposition supporter, you can be as loyal to Singapore as a PAP supporter.
WP CHAIRMAN SYLVIA LIM, on the party's special SG50 National Day dinner on Aug 23. It is the same day as the Prime Minister's National Day Rally - an event WP MPs will now miss . Ms Lim, who said the date of the dinner was set last December, was asked if their no-show is a snub to the Government
Her announcement at a walkabout in Nee Soon GRC yesterday confirmed a Straits Times report on Saturday that the line-up in WP-held constituencies would remain unchanged.
There has been growing speculation that the WP might send one of its "big guns" out of Aljunied to boost its chances of winning in a neighbouring constituency.
Talk of Ms Lim moving to Fengshan spiked after she posted a photo online of her eating at a hawker centre in the single-seat ward.
Ms Lim and WP chief Low Thia Khiang also turned up the rhetoric.
They pushed back on the People's Action Party's (PAP) characterisation of the next election being about picking a leadership team for the future - and not about how many opposition MPs there were, given that the Constitution guarantees there could be up to nine non-constituency opposition MPs in Parliament.
They also rebuffed Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean's criticism of how the WP ran its Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, which has been caught out over accounting and governance lapses.
Ms Lim said it was for voters to decide if they are satisfied with constitutionally guaranteed NCMPs, or whether they want elected MPs for their constituencies.
On Mr Teo's remarks on the town council, she said the WP would "leave our residents and the public to judge... whether we've short-changed our residents, be it in estate cleanliness, maintenance, lift breakdowns and so on".
As for the town council's financial position, this would be made clearer at the end of this month when its accounts are submitted.
Mr Low, at the same event in Nee Soon GRC, was in a sparring mood as he spoke of the tone of political discourse after Mr Teo said he shed "crocodile tears" over Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's retirement from politics at the next polls.
Mr Low said last week that he was surprised and disappointed over Mr Lui's impending departure.
But last Friday, Mr Teo, in an interview with reporters, said the WP chief was being disingenuous: "Mr Low was about to field a team to contest Mr Lui, and I'm sure if his party has contested where Mr Lui stood, he wouldn't be saying nice things about him."
Mr Teo added: "It's very characteristic for Mr Low to squeeze the most political mileage out of anything. I think the reasons that Tuck Yew decided to step down are known to everyone. He was quite clear... So frankly I think it's crocodile tears."
Yesterday, Mr Low said in Mandarin that it was apparent his remarks did not sit well with PAP leaders as "good advice is hard on the ears".
"As a DPM, with due respect, he wanted to comment in that way," Mr Low said of the crocodile tears comment.
"Let Singaporeans judge and see (that) this is the kind of standard of the PAP in politics. Is this the kind of politics that we want in the future? What do we want the future of Singapore to be: do we want to be more civilised in our political engagement? We are not a Third World country. But I think the voters will have to decide."
The WP's walkabout in Nee Soon yesterday included its likely candidates there. They include voluntary welfare organisation manager Kenneth Foo, 38; funeral service company executive Bernard Chen, 29; sales consultant Cheryl Denise Loh, 32; trainee lawyer Shaneet Rai, 27; and property agent Ron Tan, 30.
Ms Lim told reporters that the WP would introduce its candidates after the National Day Rally on Aug 23.