The People's Action Party's starting point when deciding on who should run on its ticket is to look at whether he or she can serve residents, party organising secretary Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.
This is a non-negotiable quality, he added. "If you cannot take care of your residents' needs, even if you have the potential to be a minister, we are not going to field you. It's as simple as that," said Dr Ng, who is Defence Minister and an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
His remarks reinforce those made on Saturday by former party chairman Lim Boon Heng, who said that every one of the PAP's candidates must be able to hold his own weight without being "carried on the wings of heavyweights" in a GRC. Dr Ng spoke to reporters in Toa Payoh after opening a senior care centre and attending a block party. Run by NTUC Health Silver Circle, the centre organises social activities for seniors and provides rehabilitation and community nursing services.
Addressing the issue of MPs and succession, he said: "Because we are the party in government, we have to worry about taking care of our residents' needs as well as forming the government.
"The opposition parties have all said they don't want to form the government or can't form the government. We believe that we are still the best party to govern Singapore, so we have to worry about succession."
The party's first priority is whether the person being put up as a candidate can care for residents' needs, bond the community, identify and empathise with them.
He said the PAP would wait until after the National Day weekend to introduce new candidates. "For this week in the run-up to the jubilee weekend... we don't want to even further increase the temperature and tempo," he said. "I think Singaporeans would like that too, to be able to enjoy their jubilee weekend and National Day Parade without political contestation."
As for the likelihood that the general election will be held next month, Dr Ng replied with a laugh: "If all the students think this exam question has to come out, the examiner may change the exam question."