SINGAPORE - Pasir Ris-Punggol group representation constituency (GRC) will be the stage for the first multi-cornered fight in a GRC since 1992.
This, after the Peoples Voice party threw its hat into the ring with candidates Jireh Lim Kay Cheow, Prabu Ramachandran, Mohamed Nassir Ismail, Gilbert Goh Keow Wah and Vigneswari V. Ramachandran.
Some had expected that the fight for this five-member group representation constituency would be a head-to-head contest between the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP) and the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), given that they were the only teams to reveal their line-ups early.
The PAP team will comprise Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, 65; Senior Minister of State for Transport and Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary, 47; and new faces Mohamed Sharael Taha, 39; Yeo Wan Ling, 44; and Desmond Tan Kok Ming, 50.
The last time a multi-cornered fight took place in a GRC was in 1992, during the Marine Parade by-election.
It was a four-way fight between the PAP, the Singapore Democratic Party, the National Solidarity Party and the Singapore Justice Party, which is now a component party of the SDA. The PAP won with 72.9 per cent of the votes.
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC was created in 2001.
When asked about the multi-party fight, Mr Goh, who was speaking to The Straits Times outside the nomination centre at St Anthony's Canossian Primary School in Bedok, said: "I decided to contest when (party chief) Lim Tean approached me. I told him that I would contest if he thought that I could add value to the team.
"He decided to put me in Pasir Ris-Punggol to avoid a three-cornered fight with the PSP. Lim Tean said that the PV has worked the ground in Pasir Ris-Punggol."
He added that the SDA's team lead for the constituency, Mr Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, had contacted him previously, but the call was ultimately up to Peoples Voice party chief Lim Tean.
The PAP team, led by Mr Teo, has three new faces, according to a list of election candidates issued by the Elections Department on Tuesday (June 30) at the nomination centre. His team has the highest number of new faces across the PAP teams.
The former six-member GRC is now a five-member constituency, after Punggol West was carved out to form a single-member ward, where its former MP Sun Xueling will be seeking to be elected.
This means that Dr Janil is Mr Teo's sole remaining running mate from the last election in the PAP stronghold, after labour chief and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng moved to helm the PAP team for the newly formed Sengkang GRC.
Labour MP Zainal Sapari, 54, is not standing in this election after two consecutive terms in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC (Pasir Ris East ward). Asked by ST for comment, Mr Sapari said he is not retiring from politics and will stay on as a PAP member.
The other outgoing MP is Mr Teo Ser Luck.
Mr Sharael is a vice-president at Singapore Aero Engine Services, while Mr Tan was a former brigadier-general at the Singapore Armed Forces and former chief executive director at the People's Association. Ms Yeo runs social enterprise Caregiver Asia and used to work for the Economic Development Board.
The SDA team features two new faces - operations manager Kelvin Ong, 34, and electrical engineer Kuswadi Atnawi, 57.
They join Mr Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, 53, Mr Harminder Pal Singh, 48, and Mr Abu Mohamed, 69, in the fight for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
In response to a question on a three-cornered fight, Senior Minister Teo replied: "Well I have been in four-cornered fights before. We welcome all those who are contesting, but we hope that the voters will see that we can offer them a better tomorrow, and a stable and secure future."
He pointed out that his GRC will work closely with Punggol West SMC as Punggol is a new town, and to ensure that the town council and the finances are well managed.
SM Teo had added that the party does "need and want a clear mandate from the voters," and that it would be a signal to investors and the rest of the world that Singapore is "united and ready to face the storm".
New faces Mr Sharael and Mr Desmond will join Mr Teo to serve Pasir Ris residents, while Mr Janil, Ms Yeo and Ms Xueling will serve Punggol residents.
Ms Yeo said: "It is my first GE. Because of this I don't have the experience, whether it is the first, second, third or four-cornered type of fight. I am looking for a good fight, I do believe good people need to step up, especially post-Covid."
During his nomination speech, Mr Teo noted: "This Covid crisis is the most serious crisis I have ever encountered in my 40 years in public service. We need a trusted and able government to see this crisis through together".
The PAP won 72.89 per cent of the vote in Pasir Ris-Punggol in the last election, with the SDA claiming the remaining 27.11 per cent.
This year, the eastern GRC will see a total of 166,587 voters - down from 187,252 in 2015.
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC has the second highest number of voters in the upcoming election, with Ang Mo Kio GRC having the most with 185,465 voters.