Even as the People's Action Party (PAP) maintains a barrage of criticism over financial mismanagement at the opposition-held Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), its team contesting the hot seat of East Coast GRC is resolute in not weighing in.
In his first comments on the issue, East Coast GRC candidate and Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say told reporters his team had no intention of getting involved in the debate on whether the Workers' Party (WP) had done a good job in the town council
"Whether they have done something right or wrong, I think it is for residents there to judge," Mr Lim said. "As far as we are concerned in East Coast, we believe in not just doing something legal, we believe in doing everything that is right for the residents."
Mr Lim is leading a four- member team, comprising Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State Mohamad Maliki Osman and two-term MP Jessica Tan, against the WP for a GRC which had the slimmest margin of victory for the PAP in the last general election.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a morning walkabout at the Block 58 Bedok market, Mr Lim noted that the debate over the AHPETC issue had left the public "quite confused".
A resident had told him that "if they have done something wrong send them to jail, if they have not done something wrong, please stop all this debate and argument".
His words echoed WP chief Low Thia Khiang's assertion at a rally in Hougang on Wednesday that if there had been wrongdoing, the WP leaders would have been caught and jailed - a comment which was strongly criticised by the PAP leadership.
Mr Lim said he asked the resident: "As a father, as a head of the household, if we do not take care of our children and our spouse, I said is it wrong?
"He said, of course it is wrong. I said if it is wrong but would the head of the household be sentenced to jail? He said of course not.
"Therefore, there is a difference between right and wrong versus legal and illegal."
As to whether criticism by the WP that the PAP was adopting smear tactics would stoke unhappiness among voters in East Coast, Mr Lim said: "I don't worry about things that are beyond my control, because if I keep spending time worrying about things that are not within my control, then I will actually not be doing things I want to do."
Mr Lim said his team had focused on deepening engagement with the residents over the last 41/2 years, and they would conduct their campaign in the same way.
Wong Siew Ying