New town council formed to serve Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Marymount SMC

Marymount SMC MP Gan Siow Huang (second from right) with Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MPs (from left) Chong Kee Hiong, Chee Hong Tat, Ng Eng Hen and Saktiandi Supaat during a walkabout on July 19, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A new town council that will serve both Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and the new Marymount SMC has been formed, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Dr Ng, 61, told The Straits Times on Sunday (July 19) that Ms Gan Siow Huang, 45, the newly-elected MP for Marymount, has been appointed as one of the town council's two vice-chairmen.

Mr Chong Kee Hiong, 54, is the new Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council's chairman, while Mr Saktiandi Supaat, 46, is the other vice-chairman.

The two Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MPs are reprising the roles they held with the previous town council.

One of the key campaign messages from Dr Ng and Ms Gan during the hustings was that residents in Marymount, Bishan and Toa Payoh would continue to be served by the same town council to ensure cost-effectiveness and high maintenance standards.

The Marymount single-member constituency, which comprises the Housing Board blocks in Bishan Streets 22 to 25, Shunfu and parts of Sin Ming, was carved out of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC for the general election this year.

Ms Gan won the new single seat with 55.04 per cent of the vote, while a team comprising Dr Ng, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat, Mr Saktiandi and Mr Chong retained the GRC, beating the Singapore People's Party for the third consecutive time with 67.23 per cent of the vote.

To thank voters and residents, Dr Ng and the four other newly elected MPs visited eight markets across the two constituencies on Sunday morning.

Said Dr Ng: "We wanted to conduct these market visits across the GRC and Marymount, to start our work as advisers and MPs, in fulfilling our promises during the campaign, especially to take care of families in need and improving (the) towns. We are visiting as five advisers, as we had made this promise too."

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Speaking to reporters after Sunday's visits, Ms Gan said she will play a very active role in ensuring that the needs and interests of Marymount residents are met.

Said the former Republic of Singapore Air Force brigadier-general: "There is a lot of experience already built up in the previous town council. There is a strong team there that knows every corner of the neighbourhood well."

She added: "So I'm glad that we are continuing with this single town council that can best support the residents."

Ms Gan held her first meet-the-people session last Tuesday (July 14) over e-mail and video-conferencing application Zoom, and said residents who approached her had two main issues - estate maintenance and jobs.

Asked if she would give up her current post as deputy chief executive officer of the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) now that she has been elected as an MP, Ms Gan said she was inclined to stay in her role.

"Being part of the labour movement and being part of e2i will give me more capacity and ability to help," she said. "At the end of the day, I must ask myself what value I can bring to the team and to the residents."

Neither Dr Ng nor Ms Gan would be drawn into commenting on the reasons behind the national vote swing against the PAP at the election, which National Development Minister Lawrence Wong had attributed to several factors, including a loss of support among voters in the 40s and 50s suffering from economic pains.

Said Ms Gan: "The analysis is still ongoing. It is important that we understand the issues at the national level, yes, but also at the constituency level. I think each constituency has its own unique (issues) and we'll be doing a review together with my team."

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