GE2015: PAP unveils its slate for Marine Parade GRC

The PAP's Marine Parade GRC team (from left) Fatimah Lateef, Goh Chok Tong, Tan Chuan-Jin, Seah Kian Peng and Edwin Tong at the press conference on Aug 26, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
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Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Tan Chuan-Jin. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
The PAP's Marine Parade GRC team (from left) Mr Edwin Tong, Dr Fatimah Lateef, Mr Goh Chok Tong, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and Mr Seah Kian Peng. PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ACTION PARTY

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) on Wednesday (Aug 26) unveiled its candidate slate for Marine Parade group representative constituency (GRC), which includes the newly-absorbed Joo Chiat ward.

The five-man team consists of Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who has been an MP in Marine Parade since 1976, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, first-term MP Edwin Tong, and veteran backbenchers Fatimah Lateef and Seah Kian Peng.

The line-up was announced at the PAP Kembangan-Chai Chee branch in Chai Chee on Wednesday (Aug 26) morning.

Mr Tan, the GRC's anchor minister, began the press conference by appealing to voters that the coming election is "not just about choosing MPs, but leaders to take Singapore into the next phase".

He said: "We have sailed thus far together, the question is shall we sail together on this journey as well? Do we need a government that is reliable, trusted, strong and able to make the brave decisions when needed?"

Since the PAP formed the country's government after independence, it has kept Singapore safe, provided housing and good health care, and made changes when they were required, the 46-year-old added.

"In Marine Parade, the team has done more than spruce up the hardware," he said. "We have also tried to create a more caring community where the elderly are looked after and we focus on our people."

Expanding on an MP's multi-faceted role as parliamentarians, social workers, project managers and event organisers, Mr Tan said: "We are the PAP - we believe in action, election or no election."

He also repeated his rallying call in Malay.

Mr Tong, whose current Jalan Besar ward was part of the now-dissolved Moulmein-Kallang GRC, will be fielded in the Joo Chiat division, a closely-contested single-member constituency (SMC) that has been absorbed into Marine Parade GRC for the upcoming general election.

Mr Tong attended his first public event at the constituency, a National Day celebratory parade, on Aug 2. He also attended the Joo Chiat National Day dinner on the same day.

The 46-year-old lawyer admitted that coming to a new place "will not be easy." But with most areas in Joo Chiat occupied by private housing estates, Mr Tong was adamant that its residents should not be left out of government assistance.

"These are issues I will take up in Parliament if elected," he said.

The only change in the team was the absence of Ms Tin Pei Ling, who will be defending her MacPherson ward, which has been carved out as a single seat.

There were no surprises, as on Aug 4, Mr Goh had revealed in a post on the Marine Parade Facebook page, the likely line-up in his five-member GRC for the next election.

Reflecting on his role in the national leadership transition, Mr Goh, 74, pointed out that he is the "only Pioneer Generation leader left in politics". He first entered politics in 1976.

"Will I be running in the next election after this? I want the option to retire and hopefully Chuan-Jin will give me to option to," he said. "But if I am asked to do my national duty, I will.

"As a former Prime Minister, I know the importance of politics in affecting people's lives. There are three types of governments - good bad and ugly - and we can see in many countries there are ugly ones.

"Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Government is a good government, and if the people are happy with what they are doing, give them a strong mandate. If a good government does not get good support, then we are repudiating what they have been doing."

Mr Tan insisted that PAP MPs do not subscribe to group think, and that PM Lee gives them a "tremendous amount of latitude to speak out".

"Sometimes we score own goals, but our focus must remain about the people," he said.

The PAP slate won 56.7 per cent of the vote against the National Solidarity Party (NSP) in 2011, which was the ruling party's second-closest shave in a GRC, after East Coast.

With the Workers' Party set to contest in Marine Parade this time round, Mr Tan said his team's focus will be to do "what is right and doing things at our best".

"It does not change with the opposition that is coming."

Asked if was concerned about WP's challenge, Mr Goh said: "I would tell residents to look at their town council finances, then look at the way we run our town council.

"Who do you want to run your town council?"

But both Mr Tan and Mr Goh acknowledged that Mr Tong's Joo Chiat ward will be key, with the GRC's overall performance dependent on how well it manages to win over voters there.

They have worked out a strategy to support Mr Tong in Joo Chiat as it would "not be fair for him to campaign alone".

The PAP's veteran MP Charles Chong had defeated WP candidate Yee Jenn Jong in Joo Chiat SMC in a close fight back in 2011, polling 51 per cent of the vote share.

"An issue in 2011 was that the Government did not acknowledge enough the sentiment of residents living in private properties who felt left out by government schemes," Mr Goh said. "But since then, the Pioneer Generation Package has been tailored for all residents regardless of where they live."

Thus far, the PAP's slate for all but three GRCs - Aljunied and East Coast - have been revealed.

The GRC line-ups that have been announced are Ang Mo Kio, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Chua Chu Kang, Holland-Bukit Timah, Jalan Besar, Jurong, Marine Parade, Marsiling-Yew Yee, Nee Soon, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Sembawang, Tampines, Tanjong Pagar and West Coast.

Its candidates for 11 of 13 SMCs have also been announced, leaving Fengshan and Punggol East still up in the air. The ones that have been announced are Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang, Hong Kah North, Hougang, MacPherson, Mountbatten, Pioneer, Potong Pasir, Radin Mas, Sengkang West and Yuhua.

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