Warm support for return of Jalan Besar GRC: Dr Yaacob

Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim launching a book on the history of Kolam Ayer at Kolam Ayer Community Club on Sunday, Aug 23, 2015.
Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim launching a book on the history of Kolam Ayer at Kolam Ayer Community Club on Sunday, Aug 23, 2015. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Dr Yaacob (right), together with Kolam Ayer SG50 education chairman Kiang-Koh Lai Lin (left) and Kolam Ayer SG50 committee chairman Leong Sing Wee looking at exhibits at Kolam Ayer Community Club.
Dr Yaacob (right), together with Kolam Ayer SG50 education chairman Kiang-Koh Lai Lin (left) and Kolam Ayer SG50 committee chairman Leong Sing Wee looking at exhibits at Kolam Ayer Community Club. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Residents have responded well to the name change to his constituency, said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, who will be contesting Jalan Besar GRC at the coming polls.

"A lot of people, especially the elderly, are very happy that the name has come back," said the Communications and Information Minister. "People shout, 'Jalan Besar, Jalan Besar,' so there was great enthusiasm that the name has come back."

Dr Yaacob was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a community event in his Kolam Ayer ward on Sunday morning. He was there to launch a book and exhibition about the history of Kolam Ayer.

Under the latest electoral boundaries, Jalan Besar GRC was resurrected and will replace Moulmein-Kallang GRC at the next general elections, expected to be held next month.

Its revival at the next polls will reunite wards scattered between Tanjong Pagar GRC and Moulmein-Kallang GRC at the last elections in 2011. Three of the wards in Moulmein-Kallang GRC - Kolam Ayer, Mr Edwin Tong's Jalan Besar and Ms Denise Phua's Kampong Glam - will once again become part of Jalan Besar GRC. So will Dr Lily Neo's Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng ward, which in 2011 joined Tanjong Pagar GRC.

The new four-man Jalan Besar GRC is the third-smallest of the 16 GRCs on the new electoral map, with an estimated 102,454 voters.

"I think there's a lot of support for the name to begin with. Of course there is some concern, we were five-man, but now we are a four-man GRC, so all of us have been walking around our additional areas," said Dr Yaacob. "Yesterday, I was at Boon Keng... which I will take over and support was very warm, they understood why the party, the Government has decided to do in terms of boundaries and how the party was deployed."

The name Jalan Besar has been around for more than 50 years and many residents identify the place with the name, Dr Yaacob had said previously.

In the country's first general election in 1959, the single-seat Jalan Besar saw a fierce four-cornered fight that ended in victory for the People's Action Party (PAP). It was reconstituted as a GRC in 1988, and has been keenly contested by opposition parties at every election save one.

"We don't know when exactly the nine days (of campaigning) will occur but we are not taking things for granted," said Dr Yaacob. "But because we have the experience we know that we cannot take our voters for granted, so we have to reach out as much as possible. So that's what I've been doing."

mellinjm@sph.com.sg