GE2015: PAP unveils its Aljunied GRC team

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A veteran MP and four new faces - the PAP unveiled their team that will go against Workers' Party in Aljunied GRC.
PAP's Aljunied GRC candidates ( from left) Chua Eng Leong, Shamsul Kamar, Yeo Guat Kwang, Victor Lye and Murali Pillai. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
PAP revealed the line-up for its Aljunied team. ST PHOTO: RACHEL AU-YONG

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) has revealed the line-up for its Aljunied team, which will face the incumbent Workers' Party (WP) candidates.

The five-member team was introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Friday. They are Mr Victor Lye, 52, Mr Murali Pillai, 47, Mr Chua Eng Leong, 44, Mr Shamsul Kamar, 43, and labour MP Yeo Guat Kwang, 54. Mr Yeo, who was moved out of Ang Mo Kio GRC, has been an MP since 1997.

Explaining why this team was chosen, Mr Tharman said: "Because they are credible, honest and dedicated people. Each of them knows the people of Aljunied well."

"I think this team has more than a fighting chance. They really want to prove their worth and serve residents better," he added.

Former Cabinet Minister and PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng, 67, who has been widely expected to lead the team, was also present at the press conference.

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The issue of WP's town council management was raised during the PAP unveiling of their Aljunied GRC candidates.

Mr Lim, a former labour chief, who retired in 2011 after 31 years in politics, has been active on the ground after he was appointed to lead a PAP task force to win the group representation constituency (GRC) back. He is currently chairman of investment firm Temasek.

He had been coy about rumours that he was making a political comeback from retirement to lead the Aljunied team.

Mr Lim said the fact that DPM Tharman was present at the press conference shows that the party cares about Aljunied.

Calling the candidates "men of courage", Mr Lim said: "It takes courage for anyone to come forward to stand for elections in an opposition held territory."

Mr Lim added that the team has received "hostility from some residents" when walking the ground and that "it took courage and perserverance".

Mr Lye, who heads a healthcare insurance firm, is a resident of Aljunied and has been on the ground for 16 years.

"When the PAP team did not return in 2011, my team and I decided we should stay on, build up the ground again," he said.

Quoting a Chinese saying 'A distance tests the strength of a horse, and every time you know where your heart is', Mr Lye said: "It's not easy. It's different from 1996. But I'm here because the Singapore system works."

Mr Murali, who also spoke in Tamil, Mandarin and Malay, said he was honoured that PAP has decided to field him despite is background as the son of an ex-political detainee. He is the head of commercial litigation of law firm Rajah & Tann.

"My focus would be social mobility. We all don't want a permanent underclass to emerge in Singapore... The challenge is for families to grasp these opportunities," he said.

Mr Chua, a banker, said one of the programmes he will champion is youth at risk.

"I hope that they are given opportunities to do well in life," he said.

Mr Shamsul, formerly the head of student management in Spectra Secondary School, said he believes in investing in the young as well as supporting the under-privileged and underdogs to become active citizens and contribute to the nation.

"Why? Given the chance, they never fail to surprise me. I will work with like-minded stakeholders if elected to give them more opportunities in life."

Mr Yeo, who used to be an MP at Aljunied, said he has been championing labour issues since he was first elected in 1997.

"We do our best to help them (workers) to enhance employability, and to increase opportunities for all," said Mr Yeo, who added in Mandarin that "it's so great to be home."

Aljunied GRC was the first GRC won by an opposition party since the combined wards were introduced in 1988.

A WP "A" team of party chief Low Thia Khiang, chairman Sylvia Lim, Mr Chen Show Mao, Mr Pritam Singh and Mr Faisal Abdul Manap beat a PAP team led by then Foreign Minister George Yeo. Mr Yeo's team consisted of two other ministers - Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Hwee Hua, and Senior Minister of State Zainul Abidin Rasheed - as well as Cynthia Phua and then newcomer Ong Ye Kung. Mr Ong is a candidate for the Sembawang GRC in the upcoming election.

With the announcement of the Aljunied team line-up, the PAP has unveiled its candidates for all 16 GRCs and 13 single-member contituencies (SMCs) for the Sept 11 election.

WP has said that its incumbent MPs will be defending the ward.

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