SINGAPORE - Dr Tan Cheng Bock led over 200 members and volunteers for his party's first door-to-door home visits in West Coast GRC on Sunday morning (Jan 12).
When asked if this was a signal that the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) intended to contest the area at the upcoming polls, he did not give a direct answer.
Dr Tan told The Straits Times: "The reception has been warm. Tell them: I'm coming home."
Barring major changes to electoral boundaries, PSP is widely expected to contest in West Coast at the next general election, as the constituency includes the area formerly under single-seat Ayer Rajah. Dr Tan had served as the People's Action Party (PAP) MP for six terms until it was absorbed into West Coast GRC in 2006.
Sunday's home visits were the party's first major grassroots event of the year, involving 22 teams covering about 50 blocks in the GRC's Teban Gardens and Pandan Loop areas.
The PSP was last seen in West Coast in December last year, at a much smaller walkabout at West Coast Market with around 40 members.
When asked about the choice of the PAP stronghold for his party's first home visits, he said: "We have a plan, so now we have decided to come here. The places we go and the things we do; these are all very calibrated and well-calculated."
Dr Tan's "home ground" advantage seemed apparent when several residents greeted him with familiarity as he walked through the food centre at Block 37A Teban Gardens Road.
Madam Diana Salleh, 38, said she received an Edusave award as a Secondary 4 student in 1996 from Dr Tan when he was MP.
"I remember him from all those years back, so I was eager to see him today," said Madam Diana, who has lived at the nearby Block 44 for 35 years.
Mr Chan Ewe Chong, who works in the security sector, also recalled Dr Tan's friendly and personable manner from over three decades back. But he added that Ms Foo Mee Har, the GRC's current MP overseeing Ayer Rajah ward, has also been working hard.
"Frankly, she has been doing quite a lot of good for residents around here. It will be a tough fight!," said the 65-year-old father of three.
During his walk, Dr Tan bumped into Ms Foo and the two exchanged greetings and shook hands.
Ms Foo, now in her 10th year as the area's MP, told The Straits Times that she was on her usual Sunday routine - having breakfast and chatting with the residents.
On what she thought of a possible PSP contest in West Coast, Ms Foo said that her team has a good relationship with the residents and will continue to their best.
"At the end of day, the residents are in the best position to judge who can most ably serve their interests and take care of their day to day needs. Our work at Ayer Rajah continues," she said.
Dr Tan congratulated the PAP team for "doing a lot of good work" in West Coast.
He was also asked for his views on the alliance between four opposition parties - Singaporeans First party, Democratic Progressive Party, People's Power Party and Reform Party - reported earlier this month.
This means the four parties will contest the next general election under one banner, shrinking the crowded field of 11 opposition parties to eight.
Dr Tan said that while he has met members of each party, he did not want to commit the PSP to the alliance.
"I'm still building my own team. They are entitled to what they want to do, it's fair... but we are looking at the bigger picture."