Move shows WP takes PAP seriously: ESM Goh

ESM Goh Chok Tong.

The Workers' Party's (WP) decision for its incumbent Aljunied GRC MPs to defend their seats in the next election shows that they take the People's Action Party (PAP) team there seriously, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.

"It doesn't matter who they send," he said, adding that the PAP will send a team that is right for the GRC, although this does not mean that the prime minister and deputy prime minister will contest the GRC.

This was a reference to calls from some quarters for the PAP to field a heavyweight team there.

He was speaking to reporters at a Hougang Street 21 coffee shop after a two-hour visit to the opposition- held GRC.

The WP unseated the PAP in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election, with 54.72 per cent of the vote.

Mr Goh, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said he was visiting the constituency to give moral support to the team, which has been working very hard over the last few years.

He was flanked by the five chairmen of the PAP branches in Aljunied GRC who have been identified as the likely slate there: Mr Victor Lye, Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, Mr Chua Eng Leong, Ms Chan Hui Yuh and Mr Shamsul Kamar.

Also present was former PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng, a special adviser to grassroots groups.

Mr Goh said his visit was a signal to residents that the PAP remains very interested in their welfare and will address their concerns.

"We are here to serve them and we want to have another chance to serve them better than the current MPs. I believe we should be able to do well," he said.

He said that he was well-received by residents he met at the Serangoon Gardens Food Centre, Serangoon North Avenue 1, Hougang Mall and Kovan Hub. But he added that any personal goodwill they had towards him may not necessarily translate into votes for the PAP.

He advised his party colleagues in Aljunied GRC to have a softer approach, instead of worrying about infrastructure: "It is important, but more or less done. The way forward is community bonding," he said.

He added that the PAP will decide on the final line-up to be fielded in the GRC.

Mr Lye said that regardless of the WP's decision, the group of five has been in the GRC "for the people. And we're going to remain here and do our best for the people, and that's what matters".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Move shows WP takes PAP seriously: ESM Goh'. Print Edition | Subscribe