Singapore GE2020: Sitoh Yih Pin to defend seat in Potong Pasir against opposition newcomer Jose Raymond

PAP's Potong Pasir SMC candidate Sitoh Yih Pin (left) and SPP chairman Jose Raymond at Kong Hwa School nomination centre on June 30, 2020. ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Sitoh Yih Pin is hoping for the chance to continue in his role as a "builder" for the residents of Potong Pasir.

Mr Sitoh, 56, is seeking a third consecutive term as Potong Pasir MP.

He had unsuccessfully challenged opposition stalwart Chiam See Tong in 2001 and 2006, but emerged victorious against Mr Chiam's wife, Lina Chiam, in 2011.

Before leaving the Potong Pasir PAP branch to submit his nomination papers on Tuesday (June 30), Mr Sitoh told The Straits Times: "I've been here for 20 years, spending many happy years serving our residents in Potong Pasir.

"I spent the first 10 years as a fighter, trying to win back the constituency, and for the last 10 years, I have been a builder, building Potong Pasir for the three generations of residents that live here."

He added that he planned to distribute his five-year plan for Potong Pasir to residents on Tuesday afternoon.

The PAP man faces a challenge from Mr Jose Raymond, 48, chairman of the Singapore People's Party (SPP).

After filing his nomination papers, Mr Raymond called Mr Sitoh a "formidable opponent", but added that he has himself walked the ground in Potong Pasir for 3 ½ years.

Mr Raymond said he hoped to be able to help build a "more compassionate, equitable and fairer society".

On fronting SPP's bid to win back the ward helmed for almost three decades by Mr Chiam - the party's secretary general from 1996 to 2019 - Mr Raymond said: "I have to stand on my own two feet in Potong Pasir and people will have to accept me and and provide me the support if they believe in what I am doing, and in the ideas I have for the town.

"Mr Chiam is iconic in Potong Pasir, but the people will have to decide on the credibility, tenacity and ability of both candidates, Sitoh and I, and decide which is the candidate they want to pick."

This will be the first general election since 1976 without Mr or Mrs Chiam contesting.

Potong Pasir was the stronghold of Mr Chiam from 1984 to 2011, when he left to run as part of SPP's slate that contested Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC unsuccessfully.

In 2011, Mrs Chiam stood in Potong Pasir and narrowly lost to Mr Sitoh, who won 50.4 per cent of the votes - a 114 vote margin.

In 2015, Mr Sitoh improved his showing with 66.4 per cent of the vote against Mrs Chiam.

"I think one asset that we can carry in this election, is our track record over the last 10 years," said Mr Sitoh.

"It's here for all to see."

This is the first general election outing for Mr Raymond, who is the chief strategy officer of communications firm SW Strategies.

He was formerly vice-president of corporate affairs at Asia Pulp and Paper, a senior director at the Singapore Sports Hub and chief executive officer of the Singapore Environment Council.

The former journalist with The Straits Times and Mediacorp also served as press secretary to then Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan for four months in 2011.

Potong Pasir's electoral boundaries were changed for the first time in more than three decades in the latest Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report.

It will feature an extra 5,404 voters, as it has taken in parts of Marine Parade GRC, bringing the total number of voters to 18,551.

For Mr Sitoh, absorbing the portion of Marine Parade GRC into his constituency is of personal significance as he spent a decade of his childhood in Joo Seng.

"It is very rare to get the opportunity to serve in the vicinity that you grew up," he said.

"This is an (opportunity) I will treasure and just like the rest of Potong Pasir, I look forward to bringing a better home for Joo Seng residents."

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