SINGAPORE - Changes made to electoral boundaries are fair and the playing field is "level", Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Saturday.
"When Prime Minister says that he wants to create more smaller Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs), four-man GRCs, and more single (wards), there's bound to be some redrawing and recarving," he told reporters, in response to comments made about the dissolution of Joo Chiat SMC (Single Member Constituency).
The Workers' Party candidate, Mr Yee Jenn Jong, lost there by just 388 votes (2.04 per cent) to the People's Action Party's Charles Chong in the 2011 General Elections.
Said DPM Teo, who leads Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC, a six-member constituency: "I would look at the overall picture rather than specific instances. I suppose if you wanted to have more four-man GRCs, Aljunied could have become a four-man GRC. But the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee didn't touch it."
The five-member Aljunied GRC is currently held by the Workers' Party.
On the other hand, other five-man GRCs were resized to four-man GRCs, said DPM Teo.
"The incumbents are the ones who have the most disruption from any redrawing of boundaries because they're the ones who actually have been working the ground," he added. "But I would say that in the opposition-held wards, there have been no changes, so actually they face the least disruption.
"If you want to talk about fairness and all these kinds of things, I think the playing field is level, if you do your work on the ground consistently.
"For my ward, my GRC, every election I've had to cope with new boundaries and that's because my GRC has been growing at the fastest pace in Singapore.
"On average in the last few elections, we've actually grown by roughly about one division every election, and it's roughly the same this time round.
"I'm sorry to have to wave bye-bye to part of my GRC, about 20,000 of voters, but I'm happy to see that they're going across to Ang Mo Kio GRC, where I'm confident that they will be very well-looked after."
When asked if there will be new candidates being fielded for the upcoming elections in Pasir-Ris Punggol, DPM Teo would only say that plans will be revealed later.
He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an official opening of three PAP Community Foundation preschools in Punggol West. The centres which have been in operation in the last two years, added a total of 340 places.
He noted that providing places in preschools and primary schools for children in Punggol, a fast-growing new town with many young families, is a priority.
He added that Punggol Town will see more than 4,000 new preschool places by the end of 2017, compared to 2013.