GE2020: PAP team to take on SPP in Bishan Toa-Payoh GRC

The PAP team will comprise (clockwise from top left) Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat, Mr Saktiandi Supaat, and Mr Chong Kee Hiong. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The PAP will face off against the Singapore People's Party (SPP) in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

The PAP team will comprise Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, 61; Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat, 46; Mr Saktiandi Supaat, 46; and Mr Chong Kee Hiong, 54, who were at Bendemeer Primary School to submit their nomination papers on Tuesday (June 30).

The four-member GRC is seen as a PAP stronghold.

The PAP team will go up against an SPP team led by party chief and former Non-Constituency MP Steve Chia, 49, with long-time SPP member Williiamson Lee, 40; former Reform Party member Osman Sulaiman, 45; and former Singaporeans First member Melvyn Chiu, 40.

Speaking after submitting nomination papers, Dr Ng said the Covid-19 pandemic was the fourth global crisis he has faced in his nearly 20 years as an MP.

Through each crisis, the residents of Bishan and Toa Payoh have rallied together and worked with community leaders, he added. "Through it all, we have continued to improve our town and the lives of our residents."

Dr Ng said the next few months will be difficult as the pandemic has affected the economy.

He said: "Together, we must help residents through this difficult period, especially those with financial difficulties. As we have done before, we will get through this crisis together.

"My colleagues and I humbly ask for your vote so that through ups and downs, we will continue to improve Bishan and Toa Payoh and your lives year after year."

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Formed in 1997 as a five-member group representation constituency, Bishan Toa-Payoh GRC became a four-member seat after the release of the latest Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report in March. The GRC now has 101,366 voters.

Areas under the Bishan North ward served by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo were carved out to form the new Marymount SMC, where former brigadier-general and PAP new face Gan Siow Huang is standing against the Progress Singapore Party's Dr Ang Yong Guan.

In a widely anticipated move, the PAP's Mrs Teo, 51, a Bishan Toa-Payoh GRC MP since 2006, left to helm Jalan Besar GRC. She is contesting the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng ward, which was overseen by retiring five-term MP Lily Neo.

Dr Ng, speaking to the media, said he is happy with the team being fielded in Bishan-Toa Payoh and said their expertise will come in handy when dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

The surprise move by the PAP was revealed when Ms Gan Siow Huang showed up at Deyi nomination centre on June 30, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

On Ms Gan flying solo in Marymount, he said this meant the least disruption for the team as they will stay in their divisions and it is also a vote of confidence in Ms Gan, that she can hold her own even though she is a new candidate.

Dr Ng said: "We have decided, if all four of us are elected and Ms Gan is elected in Marymount, that we will like to continue as one town council. And that is for reasons of economies of scale."

He added: "It is crucial and good for Singapore that every five years, the people of Singapore, the residents of Bishan-Toa Payoh, get to vote and that vote tells whoever the incumbent is whether they have been doing a good job, whether the needs of the residents have been taken care of."

On behalf of the SPP, Mr Chiu thanked residents for their support during the party's walkabouts and promised to make it a good fight with the PAP.

He said: "Mr Chia asked the most number of questions (in Parliament) when he was NCMP. Rest assured we will be adding on to that list."

Mr Chia called for a more balanced Parliament and more accountability in the House.

He said: "Together with all the other political parties, we want to deny the PAP a two-thirds majority in Parliament so that the Constitution cannot be amended as and when it suits (them)," he said.

When asked about Ms Indranee Rajah's comments that there was no need to vote for the opposition as there will now be 12 NCMP seats with voting rights, Mr Chia said: "We don't need 93 PAP MPs and ministers advocating the Government's point of view."

He added that the four-man SPP team will commit to serve as full-time MPs if elected.

"Like our former MP Chiam See Tong said, there is only sweat, tears and sacrifice for the opposition when we challenge the PAP," he said. "But what we are looking at is to take on these challenges and give the residents of Bishan-Toa Payoh the opportunity to exercise their vote."

Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC saw three walkover wins for the PAP before Mr Chiam, the former SPP chief, left his Potong Pasir SMC fortress to lead a team to contest the GRC in 2011, garnering 43.07 per cent of the vote.

Mr Chiam, now 85, did not stand in the election four years later owing to his health and age, and a joint team comprising members from the SPP and the Democratic Progressive Party got just 26.41 per cent of the vote.

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