The Reform Party's (RP) six-man team contesting Ang Mo Kio GRC said it wants to take the fight to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and challenge him on issues and questions it claims have not been adequately answered.
RP secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam listed these goals as he unveiled the team at a press conference held yesterday outside a hair salon in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, after the party was turned away from two coffee shops.
Led by suspended lawyer M. Ravi, 46, the RP's Ang Mo Kio team comprises activists Roy Ngerng, 34, and Gilbert Goh, 54; former banker Jesse Loo, 52; media trainer Siva Chandran, 32; and entrepreneur Osman Sulaiman, 40.
Four of them - Mr Ravi, Mr Ngerng, Mr Loo and Mr Siva - are first-time candidates, while all six have either joined or rejoined the party within the last two months.
The RP also contested Ang Mo Kio GRC at the 2011 polls, where it garnered 30.7 per cent of the vote. Mr Osman is the only returning member from that team, which the RP said then it had fielded to give the Prime Minister a contest.
Mr Jeyaretnam said the same goal applied for the Sept 11 polls, adding that "it's an abomination that there should be any walkovers".
Mr Ravi acknowledged that the "road in front of us is not going to be easy because this constituency is helmed by the PM himself".
"And you ask me whether we are daunted by this - the unequivocal answer is 'no'. We are here to take up the cudgels and we are here for the challenge," he said.
Besides PM Lee, the PAP team unveiled on Aug 15 includes incumbents Ang Hin Kee, 49, and Intan Azura Mokhtar, 39.
There are three new members: former television personality Darryl David, 44; colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon, 43; and Pasir Ris- Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh, whose Punggol South ward has become part of Ang Mo Kio GRC.
The RP team said the issues it wants to raise in its campaign include the Central Provident Fund (CPF), immigration, cost of living, and housing.
The party yesterday also took the initiative to dispel perceptions of its Ang Mo Kio team in the light of recent actions of some members.
PM Lee had successfully sued Mr Ngerng for defamation for suggesting that he had misappropriated CPF savings, with damages to be assessed. Mr Ravi represented Mr Ngerng until he was suspended in mid-February after concerns about his mental health.
Mr Goh is a critic of the 2013 Population White Paper, which forecasts that Singapore might be headed towards a population of 6.9 million.
In reference to rallies organised by Mr Goh and Mr Ngerng at Hong Lim Park over CPF and immigration issues, Mr Jeyaretnam said "the team that we have assembled is not a protest group" and that the party is not running on an anti-immigration platform.
Mr Goh said some residents see them as troublemakers and as people who raise their voices and protest, but "many others see us as a good advocate for policies that are not spoken well in Parliament".
The RP also disagreed that the team is a "suicide squad" - a phrase used to describe a team of mostly young, first-time candidates fielded by the Workers' Party in Ang Mo Kio GRC at the 2006 polls.
Mr Ravi said: "In the past, you could say that some teams who faced the PM were suicide teams.
"But in the present elections, I think we are a wonderful energy and a powerful one to be reckoned with, and we believe and I think your question would be best answered on Polling Day itself."
RP team not daunted by task ahead http://str.sg/Z7jQ