SINGAPORE - Tanjong Pagar GRC is set to see its second electoral contest in history, as a People's Action Party (PAP) team led by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing goes head-to-head with a Progress Singapore Party (PSP) slate helmed by its organising secretary Michael Chua.
The PAP slate comprises Mr Chan, 50, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, 57, Ms Joan Pereira, 53, and two first-timers - Mr Alvin Tan, 40, LinkedIn's Asia-Pacific head of public policy and economics, and former public servant Eric Chua, 41.
The PSP team is led by Mr Chua, 55, who runs a private firm in the environmental sector, and includes lawyer Wendy Low, 43; technologist Harish Pillay, 60; senior trainer Abas Kasmani, 67; and new face Terence Soon, 29, a Singapore Airlines pilot.
There was one issue with the PSP team's nomination papers on Tuesday morning (June 30).
The PAP team noted that the PSP did not fill out the constituency.
Amendments could not be made because the deadline for making changes had passed. Officials accepted the papers because no objections were raised.
Speaking to the media before leaving the nomination centre, Ms Indranee said the PAP team decided to waive its right to object as it did not want to be returned to power because of a technicality.
“If we are returned, we want to be returned because our voters have said they've given us the right and the privilege to return,” she said.
Asked about the mistake, PSP’s Mr Chua said his team could have also found fault with the PAP’s forms, which listed its candidate Mr Eric Chua’s occupation as “retired SCDF officer”.
“That is not an occupation,” said Mr Michael Chua.
"So I think in that spirit of competition, we really want to give Singapore a choice of two very good teams, and for them to cast a vote for the future. It's not about paperwork, and these very minor technicalities,” he said.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, is not contesting the general election despite having been seen on walkabouts with fellow party members.
He caused a brief moment of excitement in the morning when he joined the PSP team for breakfast at a Bendemeer Road coffee shop, prompting passing residents to ask him for photographs.
Asked what he was doing with the team, Mr Lee said: "I'm here with my friends."
Mr Chua said later that Mr Lee is an “advisor” to the PSP Tanjong Pagar GRC team.
Asked if the party had misled voters into thinking it would field Mr Lee, Mr Michael Chua said: “Given the limited tools that alternative parties like PSP has to influence the electorate, we need to generate excitement... I don’t believe we have in any way misled the voters.”
Mr Chan said the team’s focus is to take care of the residents.
“Whoever wants to stand in Tanjong Pagar must have the gumption and the conviction that they truly want to serve. This is not politics for the sake of a personal agenda,” he added.
Both sides will vie for the support of the GRC's 134,642 voters.
This is the second time Tanjong Pagar GRC residents will go to the polls since the group representation constituency was formed in 1991.
Residents last voted in the 2015 General Election, when the PAP team beat their opponents from the Singaporeans First Party, garnering 77.71 per cent of the vote.
Before that, Tanjong Pagar residents had voted in 1988, when the ward was still a single-member constituency.
Its staunch PAP support has often been attributed to founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had been representing people in the area from 1955 until his death in 2015.