Sengkang GRC set for keen contest between PAP and WP

Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min interacting with residents during a grassroots event at the Marina Barrage, on March 15, 2020. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The new Sengkang GRC is expected to be keenly contested in the general election, and Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min said yesterday that MPs of the wards under the new constituency have met "to get the ball rolling".

Dr Lam, who is Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport, told The Straits Times he met Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Teo Ser Luck and Punggol East MP Charles Chong last Friday after the release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee's (EBRC) report.

"According to the electoral boundaries, these areas are under our care, and it's only right that we start meeting up to make the necessary arrangements," he said. "It was an initial meeting to work out what are the things we need to do, like a local manifesto, GRC manifesto, who's in charge of what."

The slate of People's Action Party candidates for the new four-member GRC has not been confirmed, but Dr Lam "assumes" he will stay on, alongside Mr Teo.

Dr Lam, who entered politics in 2006, noted that his grassroots activists are ready for an election, and have been preparing since before the coronavirus outbreak.

"But now that the EBRC has released the report saying we are part of Sengkang GRC, that requires us to work as a team," he said, adding that the style of preparations as a GRC will be different compared with his experience helming Sengkang West, where they would "decide and then execute". There will be more coordination required as a GRC, he added.

Sengkang West was hived off as a single seat for GE 2011, and Dr Lam won 58.11 per cent of the vote against the Workers' Party's Mr Koh Choong Yong. In GE2015, Dr Lam retained the seat with 62.13 per cent of the vote against Mr Koh.

Punggol East became an SMC for GE2011, but the PAP lost it to the WP's Ms Lee Li Lian in a 2013 by-election. Mr Chong won with 51.77 per cent of the vote in GE2015.

The WP, whose activists have kept walking the ground in the area regularly, is expected to contest Sengkang GRC.

Asked how the Covid-19 outbreak could impact election campaigning, Dr Lam said he anticipates there will be more online activities, and that he is "not sure if there will be physical rallies", although this would depend on how the virus situation develops.

Likely PAP candidates seen walking the ground in Sengkang include Punggol East Citizens' Consultative Committee chairman Raymond Lye and Republic Polytechnic lecturer Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah. Seven-term MP Mr Chong is the longest-serving PAP backbencher, and some expect he might retire ahead of the election.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2020, with the headline Sengkang GRC set for keen contest between PAP and WP. Subscribe