SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) will stick to the plan of fielding its Aljunied GRC MPs in the five-member constituency at the Sept 11 polls, after the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) unveiled its team on Friday morning.
"Our plan remains the same, no matter what the PAP does," WP chairman Sylvia Lim told The Straits Times on Friday morning.
"It was an unanimous decision to stay. We owe a debt to the Aljunied GRC residents, and I would like to seek their mandate again as town council chairman."
At a press conference to unveil WP's third batch of candidates on Friday (Aug 28), Ms Lim also spoke about the PAP challenge. She said: "The PAP is always a formidable opponent. They are the ruling party with a huge party machinery and grassroots network. We will work hard to retain our seats."
The PAP team will be led by four-term MP Yeo Guat Kwang, 54, who has been moved out of Ang Mo Kio GRC and has been an MP since 1997. He was an Aljunied GRC MP from 2001 to 2011.
The others include the PAP's current Aljunied branch chairmen and all first-time candidates: Mr Victor Lye, 52, in Bedok Reservoir-Punggol; Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, 47, in Paya Lebar; Mr Chua Eng Leong, 44, in Eunos; and Mr Shamsul Kamar, 43, in Kaki Bukit.
The WP's Aljunied GRC MPs are secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, 58, chairman Sylvia Lim,50, who chairs the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council; Mr Chen Show Mao, 54; Mr Pritam Singh,39; and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, 40.
The WP team won the Aljunied GRC at the 2011 polls with 54.72 per cent of the vote, defeating the PAP team led by two ministers George Yeo and Lim Hwee Hua.
On Aug 16, the WP said all its Aljunied MPs, and Hougang MP Png Eng Huat and Punggol East MP Lee Li Lian, would be defending their constituencies to repay the voters' faith.
Its move quelled earlier speculation that at least one Aljunied MP might leave to lead the WP charge elsewhere if it deems the PAP team to be weak and its chances of retaining the constituency high enough.
But talk has stirred again in recent days that the WP's Aljunied MPs might move out, prompting the PAP to consider deploying former Cabinet minister Lim Boon Heng as a candidate for the GRC to pin the opposition MPs there.
Mr Lim, 67, retired from politics in 2011 after 31 years as an MP and is currently chairman of investment firm Temasek.
Also, PAP activists have been asking for a heavyweight candidates to send a strong signal that it is serious about reclaiming Aljunied, the first snagged by an opposition party since GRCs were introduced in 1988.
Other names previously floated to shore up the PAP team included veteran MPs Charles Chong and Inderjit Singh.
Mr Chong, who has been an MP since 1988 and has represented Joo Chiat since 2011, was announced as the Punggol East candidate on Thursday. Mr Singh, an Ang Mo Kio GRC MP, announced his retirement from politics last month.