First-term PAP MPs say they are ready for a contest

Relative newcomers David Ong (left) and Chia Shi-Lu(right).
Relative newcomers David Ong (left) and Chia Shi-Lu(right). PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN/SHIN MIN

SINGAPORE - First-term People's Action Party (PAP) MPs are itching for a fight in the coming general election (GE), with relative newcomers David Ong and Chia Shi-Lu both expressing the desire to be tested on the ground.

Mr Ong, whose Bukit Batok ward has been carved out of Jurong GRC to be a single-member constituency (SMC) ahead of the polls, said that he would like to stand for election in the seat.

"It's up to the Prime Minister, but I think if given another opportunity, I'd definitely gladly serve residents in Bukit Batok," he told reporters on Thursday.

"As the incumbent, I've spent four years there walking the ground, getting to know residents. That is definitely something I'd like to continue," he said when answering reporters' questions after giving a speech at a one-day youth leaders' conference at Bishan Park Secondary School.

But the PAP tend to field veterans in single-seat contests, and observers have pointed to the possibility of Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, Mr Ong's fellow MP in Jurong GRC, moving to the Bukit Batok division for the solo test.

A new PAP face, Ms Rahayu Mahzam, 35, has been shadowing Madam Halimah in her Bukit Batok East division, suggesting that the senior politician will be moving elsewhere in the coming GE.

Mr Ong and Dr Chia, of Tanjong Pagar GRC, were guest speakers at the conference on the topics of happiness, resilience and the legacy of the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Dr Chia, who is a first-term MP like Mr Ong, told reporters he and his fellow MPs for Tanjong Pagar GRC were at a "disadvantage" for not being challenged in the 2011 election.

The constituency has been won by the PAP in walkovers since it was created in 1991.

As the GRC has no electoral history to indicate how a contest may unfold, "we actually have to work harder than most others", he added.

This is why the team "campaigned" in 2011, going door to

door and meeting residents, as if they were facing a real election, although Tanjong Pagar GRC was the only uncontested constituency in the 2011 polls.

"We take nothing for granted because of this unknown element, which I suppose spurs us to work even harder," he said.

The conference was attended by 800 youth from Singapore and other countries such as South Africa, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Other speakers at the event included Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim and the late Mr Lee's 35-year-old granddaughter Li Xiuqi.