Singapore GE: Hot seat could see tougher fight in new five-MP West Coast GRC

West Coast GRC MPs S. Iswaran and Foo Mee Har speaking with residents in Telok Blangah. The Progress Singapore Party, led by former People's Action Party backbencher Tan Cheng Bock, is widely expected to contest the GRC.
West Coast GRC MPs S. Iswaran and Foo Mee Har speaking with residents in Telok Blangah. The Progress Singapore Party, led by former People's Action Party backbencher Tan Cheng Bock, is widely expected to contest the GRC.PHOTO: FOO MEE HAR/FACEBOOK

West Coast GRC, touted as one of the hot seats in the coming general election, will be a bigger prize after being expanded from four seats to five.

The Progress Singapore Party, led by former People's Action Party (PAP) backbencher Tan Cheng Bock, is widely expected to contest there.

While Dr Tan has not confirmed that his party will field a team in the group representation constituency, he has been seen working the ground there and doing door-to-door visits.

The GRC includes the Ayer Rajah ward, where Dr Tan was the PAP MP for six terms until it was absorbed into West Coast GRC in 2006.

The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee report released yesterday shows West Coast GRC will take in parts of Chua Chu Kang GRC and the Hong Kah North single seat to become a five-member constituency with 144,516 voters.

Singapore Management University (SMU) associate professor of law Eugene Tan noted that West Coast has traditionally been a "very safe seat" for the PAP, and expanding it to a five-MP GRC would raise the bar for the opposition.

"If Dr Tan is interested in contesting in the area, he has to find four other credible candidates," he said.

Larger GRCs are generally seen to favour the ruling PAP as opposition parties may find it harder to put together a larger slate of candidates.

In the 2015 election, the PAP won West Coast GRC with 78.57 per cent of the vote against the Reform Party led by its chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

In the next election, the PAP team is expected to be led by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.

The three other MPs in the GRC right now are backbenchers Foo Mee Har and Patrick Tay, both of whom have been in politics since 2011, and former trade and industry minister Lim Hng Kiang, who is expected to retire from politics.

Mr Tay said the team will work with the MPs of the two newly added precincts to ensure residents there are looked after.

 

The additional areas fall within Mr Yee Chia Hsing's Nanyang ward in Chua Chu Kang GRC, and Senior Minister of State Amy Khor's Hong Kah North ward.

Dr Khor has held the ward since it was carved out in the 2011 election, where she was the PAP's top scorer with 70.6 per cent of the vote.

It improved to 74.8 per cent in 2015, when she was one of four PAP MPs in single-member constituencies that scored above 70 per cent.

Mr Tay told The Straits Times: "Our current priority is to take care of the well-being and livelihoods of our people. Meanwhile, we stay focused on our tasks at hand."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2020, with the headline 'Hot seat could see tougher fight as new five-MP GRC'. Print Edition | Subscribe