Singapore GE2020: Election is not about any individual, says Josephine Teo

The PAP's Jalan Besar GRC candidates Josephine Teo and Heng Chee How during a walkabout at Whampoa Market on July 5, 2020. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - The election is not about any individual, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.

"In this particular year, it is about our lives, our jobs, our future," she said during a walkabout at the Whampoa Market on Sunday (July 5), with her team of PAP candidates standing in the Jalan Besar GRC.

"In fact, quite a lot of residents that I have met, have encouraged me and also said that it is a very difficult situation. Covid-19 is absolutely a curveball. No one expected it," she added.

She addressed the remarks made by Peoples Voice party chief Lim Tean, who said on July 3 that voters in Jalan Besar GRC should treat the election as a referendum on her.

Mr Lim said Mrs Teo was responsible for the Covid-19 outbreak in foreign worker dormitories and described her as "one of the greatest failures in the 4G leadership".

"I am not that important," she replied with laughter. "I don't think the residents feel that this is a referendum on me."

She added: "We never stop doing better and we never stop learning and never stop focusing on how we can be better prepared for the next time around. That is, I think, the attitude we bring to the table."

The Peoples Voice (PV) team, led by Mr Lim, is contesting the Jalan Besar GRC, against the PAP team led by Mrs Teo.

Her team, which includes Mr Heng Chee How, 58; Ms Denise Phua, 59; and PAP new face Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, 42; have been reiterating their focus on education, jobs and skills upgrading.

"Between Chee How and myself, having been in NTUC together. Between Denise and I, been in the Government Parliamentary Committee for education together, and now having Rizal join us, himself an educator. So we want to do everything that we can, to support our residents in terms of both education as well as skills upgrading," she said.

The team will be looking into designing new approaches to help residents who may have been displaced from their jobs.

They have been campaigning in various estates in the constituency since Nomination Day.

Mrs Teo said residents have remarked that they know the team very well.

"The relationship and trust that have been formed is built up over the years. We intend to build on this relationship and deepen it further," she said.

Mrs Teo is fielded in Jalan Besar GRC for the first time, following a move from Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

Getting to know the residents of Jalan Besar is top priority for her.

"In time to come, I will also be able to build up a relationship of trust and mutual support that I was able to do in Bishan-Toa Payoh," she said.

Rejuvenation, estate upgrading, and the introduction of new features are some of the things residents hope will continue, she said, adding that the constituency has seen five MRT lines over the years.

Jalan Besar is known to have a high proportion of elderly residents.

In recent times, the estate has undergone upgrading to install elderly-friendly facilities such as barrier-free access.

"But there is a lot more that we can do, and we hope to do so," she said.

She said she hoped to see Jalan Besar become a home for multi-generational residents.

"We hope that people of different ages can live together and enjoy the area. We do not want to see an area that's solely for the elderly, or the young," she said.

The new member on the team, Mr Wan Rizal, said that "rejuvenation is important at every level".

"We keep on making this town thriving, exciting and that is the key of our masterplan," he said. He added that he wanted to provide opportunities for children to live close to their parents.

Mrs Teo also talked about the importance of having debates in Parliament.

She said: "At the end of the day, even after having expressed our views, the important thing is to move into action mode. Speaking up is not bad, but once we speak up about a topic, we must be able to fulfil and do it.

"So we are People's Action Party, not People's Speaking Party."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.