Singapore GE2020: Marymount and Bukit Panjang among single seats to watch

Dr Ang Yong Guan, the PSP's candidate for Marymount, giving out face masks to residents during his walkabout in Sin Ming Road yesterday. The WP's Ms Tan Chen Chen, who is contesting in Punggol West, giving her speech at St Anthony's Canossian Primary
Ms Gan Siow Huang, the PAP's candidate in Marymount SMC, greeting a resident in Bishan Street 22 yesterday.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY
Ms Sun Xueling, the PAP's candidate in Punggol West SMC, speaking at St Anthony's Canossian Primary School yesterday.
Dr Ang Yong Guan, the PSP's candidate for Marymount, giving out face masks to residents during his walkabout in Sin Ming Road yesterday.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Dr Ang Yong Guan, the PSP's candidate for Marymount, giving out face masks to residents during his walkabout in Sin Ming Road yesterday. The WP's Ms Tan Chen Chen, who is contesting in Punggol West, giving her speech at St Anthony's Canossian Primary
Ms Sun Xueling, the PAP's candidate in Punggol West SMC, speaking at St Anthony's Canossian Primary School yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Dr Ang Yong Guan, the PSP's candidate for Marymount, giving out face masks to residents during his walkabout in Sin Ming Road yesterday. The WP's Ms Tan Chen Chen, who is contesting in Punggol West, giving her speech at St Anthony's Canossian Primary
The WP's Ms Tan Chen Chen, who is contesting in Punggol West, giving her speech at St Anthony's Canossian Primary School. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The 14 single-member constituencies in the coming general election will see a mix of fresh faces and experienced hands fighting for votes.

At Marymount SMC, which was carved out from Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, People's Action Party (PAP) new face Gan Siow Huang is a surprise choice as the earlier talk was that incumbent Bishan-Toa Payoh MP Chong Kee Hiong might stand there.

But Ms Gan, 45, Singapore's first female brigadier-general, submitted papers instead and will face off against Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) Dr Ang Yong Guan, a retired army colonel.

Dr Ang, a 65-year-old psychiatrist, contested as a member of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in the 2011 election. Three years later, he became a founding member and chairman of the Singaporeans First party, and was a candidate at the 2015 election.

In April, he made an appearance in a video released on the PSP Facebook page.

In a speech after nominations closed, Ms Gan, who is deputy chief executive of the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute, noted that Marymount may be a new SMC, but many residents have lived there for a long time.

"We have built one of the best and most beautiful towns in Singapore. We have forged strong community bonds through the years. Vote for PAP, so that we can continue to serve you," she said.

In his address, Dr Ang called on residents to vote for the PSP and to deny the PAP a two-thirds majority.

"Send 32 of us, PSP plus alternative parties... into Parliament. For country, for people - you deserve better," he said.

When new electoral boundaries were announced earlier this year, Singapore saw an increase from 13 to 14 SMCs.

Four of them are new ones: Kebun Baru, Marymount, Punggol West and Yio Chu Kang.

 
 
 

At Yio Chu Kang SMC, which was part of the Ang Mo Kio GRC, PAP's Mr Yip Hon Weng said he is looking forward to a "good fight" against PSP's Ms Kayla Low, a fellow 43-year-old newcomer.

Addressing the constituency after nominations closed, Mr Yip, the former group chief of the Silver Generation Office at the Agency for Integrated Care, said: "I will listen to your cares, needs and concerns... I will work with you to build Yio Chu Kang into a place we can be proud of, into a home (where) we can happily raise our families."

Ms Low, a chartered accountant, said she was committed to serving Singapore and Yio Chu Kang residents if elected, with the guidance of PSP founder and secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock.

All in, the PSP will be contesting five single seats, the SDP three, and the Workers' Party two, with four other parties contesting one each.

The SDP slate includes its chairman Paul Tambyah who, in a late tactical switch, is being fielded in the Bukit Panjang single seat.

The professor of medicine at the National University of Singapore will face the PAP's Mr Liang Eng Hwa, who was from Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and replaces the departing Dr Teo Ho Pin.

Professor Tambyah, 55, had been widely expected to contest as part of the SDP's team in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC again.

After nominations closed, he revealed that he had considered the move for "at least a few weeks", and was ultimately convinced by the positive response he received on the ground during his walkabouts.

 
 
 

At the 2015 General Election, Mr Liang, a 56-year-old managing director at DBS Bank, was part of the PAP team that defeated Prof Tambyah's SDP side with a vote share of 66.6 per cent.

SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, 57, is also gunning for a single seat, taking on the PAP's incumbent Murali Pillai in Bukit Batok in what looks set to be a fiery rematch of the 2016 by-election.

The two had contested in the constituency after the departure of the PAP's Mr David Ong over allegations of an extramarital affair.

Mr Murali, a 52-year-old lawyer, won the seat with a share of 61.2 per cent.

Another SMC to watch is Punggol West, where Workers' Party fresh face Tan Chen Chen, 38, will face off against the PAP's Ms Sun Xueling, the incumbent in the seat hived off from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

The 40-year-old Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development will be looking to win her second term.

Earlier, Peoples Voice leader Lim Tean had indicated the party's interest in Punggol West, but it did not field a candidate ultimately.

 

While three-cornered fights failed to materialise in Punggol West and Bukit Panjang, where perennial independent candidate Ooi Boon Ewe was spotted on Nomination Day, there will still be one multiway SMC contest - in Pioneer.

The PAP's Mr Patrick Tay, 48, and the PSP's Mr Lim Cher Hong, 42, already had their hats in the ring, while 65-year-old retired financial accountant Victor Ronnie Lai emerged as a possible independent candidate.

But Mr Lai belatedly decided not to contest, and it was left to business consultant Cheang Peng Wah to become the sole independent candidate in this general election.

Mr Cheang, who declined to give his age, told reporters: "You see the fourth-generation ministers - I don't think they are up to the mark yet. Why? Maybe because the opposition is not strong enough yet.

"They are not surrounded by wolves, lions or tigers. So with our help, we can help them get more steel within them to make Singapore better."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2020, with the headline 'Marymount and Bukit Panjang among single seats to watch'. Print Edition | Subscribe