Monday, 31 August 2015

GE2015: PAP launches manifesto, With You, For You, For Singapore

Vote for party you want to form govt: PM
Election not about 'sending a message' to ruling party, he says, but picking leaders
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has asked voters to back the People's Action Party (PAP) if they wanted it to form the government and not "live dangerously" by giving their vote to the opposition even while hoping that the PAP would be returned to power.

Launching the ruling party's campaign manifesto and slogan yesterday, he refuted the opposition line urging voters to cast dissenting votes to send a message to the Government to work harder.

Cautioning that the Sept 11 polls were not a by-election but a general election, in which every seat would be contested and the party forming the government was not guaranteed, he said in Mandarin: "If you support the PAP, vote PAP. If you support opposition, vote opposition.

"But if you think that by voting for the opposition, you can get the PAP to work harder - when you regret it, it might be too late."

Speaking in English later, he said: "Be very careful not to live dangerously (by) wanting one party but voting for a different one. Please take this GE very, very seriously."

Mr Lee also quoted Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say's response when asked last week about the thinking that a vote for the opposition would "send a message" to the PAP.

Mr Lim's East Coast GRC team saw a 9 percentage point drop in vote share in 2011 and garnered just 54.8 per cent of the vote to beat a Workers' Party team.

He said last week: "We do not need another drop of 5 percentage points for us to continue to improve. In fact, if there's another drop of 9 percentage points, we won't be their MP any more."

Mr Lee yesterday emphasised the possibility that "I won't be here to receive the message", if enough voters used their ballots that way.

He said opposition parties used such psychological tactics knowing that they would not win votes if they said they wanted to form the government, given their lack of credibility.

Mr Lee spoke plainly when he referred to lapses in governance and compliance found at the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) and reminded voters that the opposition candidates they voted in would be responsible for running their town council.

"And when they run it like AHPETC, then I don't know where your S&CC money is going to go," he said, referring to the service and conservancy charges which residents pay to the town council. "Surpluses will turn into deficits. You will have problems for many years to come.

"The opposition asked to be given a chance to prove themselves. But the one place where they are given the responsibility and the chance to prove themselves, they have failed the voters.

"And do you really want to give them more responsibility, and trust them with more of your hard-earned money?

"If you vote for the opposition and they win many constituencies combined, enough to run the government, then I think Singapore is sunk."

Singapore's next PM to be elected this GE
PM Lee says time is running out to pick successor and get him ready to take over
By Rachel Chang and Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Singapore's next prime minister is likely to be drawn from among the MPs elected in the coming general election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Stressing that political succession is an urgent matter, he said the next prime minister must stand in the current general election to gain enough experience.

"Whoever is the next prime minister will most likely be one of the MPs who will be elected into the next Parliament because if it's a new face after that, there's no time already," said Mr Lee.

Speaking candidly of his bout with prostate cancer earlier this year, he added "it's an absolutely serious matter" that a younger team be put in place. This is why the election is about picking leaders who can take Singapore forward over the next 15 to 20 years.

He was addressing 1,000 party activists at the launch of the PAP's election manifesto yesterday.

The ruling party will fight the coming election on the slogan "With you, for you, for Singapore", said Mr Lee, its secretary-general.

Good leadership has helped Singapore arrive at SG50. It started with late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team, then Mr Goh Chok Tong and his team, and then himself and his team, he added.

Today's Cabinet team, built up over many years, is also growing older, he noted.

They did not become Cabinet members straightaway, but rose over the course of many years.

Time is running out to assemble the next team, which he has been gradually bringing into Parliament over the course of the 2006, 2011 and 2015 General Elections, he said.

Several of the new candidates have the potential to be office-holders, said Mr Lee before he introduced all of them.

Manifesto: Five chapters
The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015


The PAP will work with Singaporeans to achieve the vision for Singapore, which includes:

• Enabling every Singaporean to realise their full potential, regardless of the starting point

• Investing in every Singaporean to help them get good jobs and upgrade themselves

• Supporting and caring for the less fortunate, disadvantaged and vulnerable

• Building affordable, quality public housing

• Encouraging and supporting strong families

• Providing affordable, high-quality healthcare

• Solving transport issues

• Keeping Singapore safe and secure


Achievements in 50 years include:

• From 22 per cent home ownership in 1965 to 90 per cent of Singaporeans now owning their homes, 82 per cent of which is HDB housing

• From a small number with formal education to very child getting a good education

• From a low skills base to a highly skilled workforce

• From depending on Johor for water to becoming a world leader in water technology

• From defenceless to having SAF protect Singapore


• Involve Singaporeans in shaping policies such as the Our Singapore Conversation

• Bring out the best in every child through education

• Create opportunities for higher income and expand social safety nets

• Support families and seniors and develop a vibrant city


• Internal challenges include more diverse society, ageing population and low birth rate

• External challenges include uncertain world economic outlook, international competition, and security threats from extremism and terrorism


• Education: Help students to learn, and provide options for progression

• Economy: Provide opportunities for all

• Family: Give support to families

• Health: Provide assurance in sickness and old age

• Social: Build a compassionate society that leaves no one behind

• Transport: Make land transport system one of the most modern, efficient and green systems in the world

• Security: Keep Singapore safe and secure

• Living environment: Building a City of Hope, Heart and Home

PAP has kept all its promises, says PM Lee
Party's election manifesto 'tells S'poreans what we have achieved together, what more we can do to build together'
By Toh Yong Chuan, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

When the People's Action Party (PAP) draws up its election manifesto, it is not about making promises but keeping them, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

And the PAP has kept them all, including those made at the 2011 General Election (GE), he said.

"We've been able to keep our promises and do right by Singaporeans because we have had a good team," he added at yesterday's launch of the PAP manifesto for the coming GE.

The 88-page manifesto, in the four official languages, is titled "With You, For You, For Singapore" and is printed to look like a magazine with pictures on every other page.

"The manifesto shows our ideas, our plans, our dreams, our vision," Mr Lee, the PAP's secretary-general, told 1,000 party members.

"It tells Singaporeans what we have achieved together, what we are doing together, the challenges we face together and what more we can do to build together," he added.

The PAP also produced a 21/2-minute video narrated by Mr Lee to accompany the written manifesto.

The video traces the progress Singapore has made in the last 50 years and outlines the PAP's vision for Singapore in the future.

"There will be challenges ahead, but whatever the world throws at us, we will overcome," an upbeat Mr Lee declared in the video.

"Singapore will be a city of hope, heart and home for all of us," he said.

"We remember how we got here, we do what we say we'll do. We will build a bright future together."

Separately, a press statement listed the PAP's achievements since the 2011 GE.

These included launching 100,000 Housing Board flats, improvements in the public transport network, helping elderly Singaporeans through the Pioneer Generation Package and Silver Support schemes, and creating MediShield Life to reduce worries about healthcare costs.

In a symbolic move, Mr Lee presented the manifesto to nine Singaporeans representing various segments of Singapore society: the boss of a small and medium-sized enterprise, a middle-aged professional, a young married couple, an elderly person, a student and a mother of two young children aged three and six.

Senior Minister of State (Law and Education) Indranee Rajah, who was part of the team that produced the manifesto, told The Sunday Times that the writing of the manifesto started a few months ago.

"We got inputs from ministries on the policy changes they have made, " said Ms Indranee. "I also read the manifestos that the PAP put out in the past. If you put them side by side, they tell the PAP and Singapore story."

The manifesto and video can be read and seen at the PAP's website:

Troubles in region a worry for Singapore: PM
By Lydia Lim, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Singapore hopes no trouble breaks out in Malaysia as a result of clashes between those marching in the Bersih 4.0 and anti-Bersih rallies this weekend but if it does, "we will be on full alert", Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

He said he had watched online videos of the anti-Bersih group practising "gongfu moves", and it was no laughing matter.

The political troubles in neighbouring Malaysia and Thailand are a cause for worry, as are anti-Singapore sentiments in Indonesia which could derail good ties with Jakarta, he said as he outlined the challenges arising from regional and global uncertainties.

The economy too has been hit by an unsettled world economy and volatile financial markets. "We can see our own economy slowing down. This year, we get 2.5 per cent growth, I think we are doing well.

"We will have to work hard because unless we continue to grow, I don't think we are going to have tomorrow for our people," he said at the People's Action Party rally to unveil its manifesto for the coming election.

Among the uncertainties are the security threat arising from terrorism in the region. This year, Malaysia has arrested nearly 100 Malaysians on suspicion of links with ISIS, including 12 members of its armed forces.

There are several hundred Indonesians in Iraq and Syria fighting for ISIS. Singapore has also detained several of its citizens who tried to go to join ISIS or, in one case, was stopped at the border by the Turkish authorities and sent back.

On the recent bombing at Bangkok's Erawan Shrine, Mr Lee said: "Could it happen in Singapore? We take security very seriously... but we can never say it will not happen."

As for Malaysia, he said the exchange rate of RM3 to S$1 may be good for shoppers heading to Johor Baru, but it suggests a loss of international confidence in Malaysia that is of concern here.

In Indonesia, some are quick to spring on his comments for their own political purposes, he said. His recent observation that Singapore was Indonesia's largest investor, for example, was used to criticise President Jokowi for inviting Singapore to dominate Indonesia's economy.

"So, we have warm relations with them, we have good ties with the government but there are these sentiments in the Indonesian society and our good relations can easily be derailed," he said.

The young 'will have opportunities'
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had a message for young Singaporeans worried they may not enjoy the same opportunities their parents had. "We are creating these opportunities for you," said Mr Lee, who was speaking at yesterday's release of the People's Action Party (PAP) election manifesto.

"The young will have the opportunity to study, the young will have the opportunity to find their jobs, and the young will have the opportunity - having gotten a job - to keep on upgrading year by year," he said. "And we can hold our own against the competition and earn a living for ourselves."

On education, Mr Lee said more university and polytechnic places have been added and more pathways opened up. The Singapore Institute of Technology, for instance, will have a new campus in Punggol but it does not stop there. New and exciting jobs are being created as well, added Mr Lee.

SkillsFuture is another key initiative which will ensure workers, young or old, have the chance to upgrade and move up the job ladder at any stage in their career.

Singapore has, with its 50th birthday this year, reached a turning point, Mr Lee noted.

The country's pioneer generation is fading; Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew himself died this March at age 91.

Meanwhile, those born after World War II, and who lived through the turbulent years before Singapore's independence and then embarked on the entire SG50 journey, are now a minority.

Mr Lee said that those born after independence make up the majority of voters now. And they come armed with different life experiences as well as higher expectations of a First World country. This means "good jobs, good homes and a good future", he added.

While Mr Lee and his team have been listening to the needs of Singaporeans and worked with them, he said: "We have much more to be done and much more that we can do together."

Even as he sought to give young voters assurances about their future, he also highlighted that his team is responsible for policies and initiatives put in place that benefit Singaporeans. The country, he added, had arrived at SG50 "because of good leadership".

"Some people say we're already an advanced country... so we don't need to work so hard to find the best possible leaders... because our system can run itself," said Mr Lee.

But he asked: "Really? Our social policies and schemes, could we have done all of them without Tharman (Shanmugaratnam), without (Gan) Kim Yong, without Heng Swee Keat, without Grace Fu or Chan Chun Sing putting them together? They just happened?

"Our housing - record BTOs, our plans for Punggol, for the new towns - would they happen without Khaw Boon Wan? A safe and secure Singapore - would that happen without Teo Chee Hean, Ng Eng Hen, Shanmugam, Tharman? So you need the team to make it happen."

Praise for members taking on opposition-held wards
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Veteran MPs Charles Chong and Yeo Guat Kwang earned praise from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday for their willingness to do battle in Workers' Party-held areas.

Mr Chong will contest the Sept 11 election in Punggol East single-member constituency while Mr Yeo is leading a team hoping to wrest back Aljunied GRC for the People's Action Party.

It is the first time that sitting PAP MPs will be contesting in opposition wards.

"When I asked them (to go), neither hesitated for a moment," Mr Lee told yesterday's party rally. "They said, 'Where the party needs me, I will serve.' I told them, 'You're the right person and you make me proud to be a PAP member."

Mr Chong, 62, leaves now-defunct Joo Chiat SMC to fight for a seventh term in Parliament. Mr Yeo, 54, a four-term labour MP, is moving from Ang Mo Kio GRC.

"They know the ground well... and they have the spirit to take the fight to the opposition," Mr Lee said, assuring the two men that they would have full party backing during the campaign.

"We will hold a rally in the opposition wards and I will visit them," he promised.

PAP candidates in opposition wards had the "most challenging task", he said: "You need courage, perseverance, thick skin. You need a stout heart. You need to be prepared to fight, and push and push and push again."

He said that the reception was initially hostile in the constituencies, but that the PAP candidates have made headway.

Besides Mr Yeo, the other candidates in Aljunied GRC are lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai, 47; insurance firm manager Victor Lye, 53; private banker Chua Eng Leong, 44; and former teacher Shamsul Kamar, 43.

Mr Lee said of Mr Murali, a long-time grassroots leader: "If you need somebody to be charging beside you on a battlefield, I would like to have Murali next to me."

He also highlighted the sacrifice made by Mr Lye, who quit his job to walk the ground in Bedok Reservoir-Punggol ward full-time, unpaid, for 11/2 years after the 2011 election.

He praised senior IT manager Lee Hong Chuang, 45, for going into the WP stronghold of Hougang to persuade hardcore opposition supporters to vote for the PAP.

Hougang SMC is represented by WP MP Png Eng Huat.

"He told me that first they were hostile. Now they tell him, 'We have our loyalties, but we like you, and you're presenting us with a difficult choice'," Mr Lee said.

He was confident the seven candidates would do a good job, win over voters, run a town council "efficiently and honestly", solve residents' problems, and voice voters' concerns and aspirations in Parliament.

"That is why we are fielding them. That is why we will support them, fight for them and make them win," he said to rousing applause from PAP activists.

Big thank-you to former ministers
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Former ministers Wong Kan Seng and Mah Bow Tan, who are bowing out of politics after three decades, have weathered ups and downs with Singaporeans and helped lay the foundation for what the country has today, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He paid the pair, who fought alongside him in the 1984 General Election, a warm tribute when saying farewell to retiring MPs and thanking them for their service.

In all, 14 MPs are stepping down to make way for new blood.

The PAP, said Mr Lee, has been able to keep its promises and do right by Singaporeans because it has had a good team.

"The MPs are an important part of this time and they've made many sacrifices - family, often careers, health and time. But they did it passionately because Singaporeans and Singapore were their first concern."

Mr Lee also pledged that "after the excitement is over, when the hurly-burly is done and the battles lost and won, we will hold a proper party and we will thank all the retiring MPs".

He said Mr Wong and Mr Mah "gave their heart and soul" in doing their duties. Both, he noted, had handled difficult portfolios. Mr Mah, who lost in the 1984 election but was elected as MP of Tampines GRC in the next polls, had helmed housing and transport.

Mr Wong, a former deputy prime minister, had been in charge of foreign affairs and home affairs, and helped keep Singapore safe and secure - especially after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, Mr Lee said.

"Together with Singaporeans, they weathered ups and downs. They have guts, staying power and good hearts."

He also tipped his hat to Mr Lui Tuck Yew and Mr Raymond Lim, both of whom were in charge of transport. "This is a job where people don't thank you when you're doing it. When you leave, they say 'Thank you, you tried hard'.

"But it's many years later that they say, 'Well, it's just as well we had the right men there to make the right decision. And we're benefiting from it now'."

Two of Mr Lee's team-mates in Ang Mo Kio GRC are also leaving politics: veteran MPs Inderjit Singh and Seng Han Thong.

Mr Singh, known for his bold speeches, entered Parliament in 1997 with Mr Seng, who in 2009 suffered burns on his body after a manpoured thinner on him and set him ablaze at a community event. "But he recovered, and continued serving residents just like before," said Mr Lee, to applause.

But retired MPs are still hard at work, and have remained on the ground to lend a hand, he added. Among them is former senior minister of state Zainul Abidin Rasheed, who has been helping the new PAP candidates in Aljunied GRC, which he and his team lost to the Workers' Party in the 2011 polls.

"They know that what is at stake is the future of Singapore and opportunities and the future of Singaporeans," said Mr Lee.

Charles Chong takes a dig at WP slogan
By Toh Yong Chuan, The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Veteran PAP MP Charles Chong pounced on the Workers' Party (WP) slogan, "Empower Your Future", yesterday, saying there will be no future for Singapore if voters empower the wrong people to lead the country.

The six-term PAP veteran, who is seeking to unseat WP's Ms Lee Li Lian in Punggol East SMC, said the general election is an opportunity for voters to express their views on the performance of not just the Government but also the opposition.

The outspoken PAP MP noted that the party has always held itself to high standards.

"We have been upfront about who we are and what we stand for. We have been transparent about our plans for the various constituencies," he said. "We have been honest about ourselves and, where we have fallen short of our own standards, we have taken decisive action to right any wrongs."

Mr Chong, 62, asked rhetorically whether the same standards also apply to other political parties.

"Take away the backbiting, the infighting, the sniping and the one-upmanship - you may be left with parties who are evasive, who twist words and facts, who deliberately misunderstand clear statements, who are less than honest with the people who have elected them, and some who without any shame claim credit for the hard work done by others," said Mr Chong, without naming anyone.

"After Polling Day, we also want to be able to eat orh luak (oyster omelette) or orh neng (oyster egg omelette) - whatever you call it - with residents at Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East. And the dish will taste better if we are their elected representatives," he said in a reference to recent social media postings by WP chairman Sylvia Lim. He was one of five PAP candidates who spoke before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the PAP manifesto yesterday.

In a separate speech, PAP's candidate in Aljunied GRC, lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai, 47, said the PAP had stayed put in the GRC to serve residents despite people saying that doing so means residents get two parties - PAP and WP - serving them for the price of one.

"Voting is not... a purchase at a supermarket. It is an exercise that affects residents - their homes and their estates. It is important to vote for the right leaders with the right values and attitudes. No one has the divine right to be employed or for our wages to go up every year," he said, linking good leaders to economic growth.

Former defence force chief Ng Chee Meng, 47, who is touted as having ministerial potential, spoke of Singapore's success factors and overcoming the challenges ahead, while lawyer Rahayu Mahzam, 35, described how volunteer work drew her into politics .

Rounding up the five speeches, Ms Tin Pei Ling, 31, who gave birth just three weeks ago, said she was concerned about the future of her son, Ng Kee Hau. It is the PAP, she said, that will make sure Singapore continues to do well for future generations like her son.

New PAP faces
The Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong introduced the PAP's slate of 24 new candidates for the SG50 General Election. A good number are grassroots leaders and party activists. There is also a good mix of civil servants, an SAF officer and people from the private sector, he said as he spoke briefly about each of the new candidates.


From a humble family, he holds law degrees from the National University of Singapore and Columbia University and wants to give back to society. He has been a grassroots volunteer for more than 10 years.


Active in Fengshan for 10 years, she exuded quiet confidence at her candidate interview and is "ready for any opposition parachutists", male or female, who come to challenge her.


As Second Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, he worked closely with SMEs. A "capable officer", he is strongly bilingual and speaks dialect.


With experience getting foreign workers to work to deadline, under her smiling exterior, "she is a lady with guts and steel".


He lost twice in Hougang but stayed on. He has "staying power, ideas and can connect with people of different backgrounds and ages".


He knows the business world and both his subordinates and bosses regard him highly. He has served in Bishan for two years.


A former TV host, he is a natural with people and passionate about youth community work.


He lost in the Punggol East by-election in 2013 but soldiered on. He is well respected as an NS commander.


He grew up in a poor family, won an EDB scholarship and later worked in the private sector. He gave up his job and served full-time in Chong Pang for the past couple of years.


He organised the State Funeral for Mr Lee Kuan Yew and oversaw this year's National Day Parade; a man who rolls up his sleeves to get things done.


He is so intense that, at his interview, PM Lee took 20 minutes to get him to smile. He is committed and has fire in his belly.


He stood in Aljunied GRC in 2011 and lost. He has experience working in the civil service, unions and now private sector. "If you hear him make a speech at a rally, you will hear the fire in him," PM Lee said.


She ran the People's Association's Wellness Programme, which now reaches half a million people, and is naturally warm with people.


She represents the new generation of successful Malay professionals who are giving back to the community.


A volunteer at Kolam Ayer since 2008 and a Pioneer Generation Ambassador, he grew up in a kampung and believes in the Kampung Spirit.


A dedicated party activist for 14 years, she will speak up for young families like her own.


A long-time Young PAP activist, he cares for people, thinks straight and writes well.


He works with SMEs and, as a volunteer in Punggol East, started practical programmes such as getting people to donate wheelchairs for loan by residents.


As a former police commander, he has good ground sense and knows how to work with people.



After the last GE, he volunteered to win Aljunied GRC back for the PAP.


A former national gymnast, he has been a volunteer since age 19. He is not afraid to go into Workers' Party territory to persuade hard-core WP supporters.


He has served in Aljunied since 1999 and, after 2011, quit his job for 1½ years to work the ground full-time in Aljunied GRC on an unpaid basis before returning to the private sector.


He was PAP branch secretary in Bukit Batok for many years. If PM Lee needed someone to charge beside him on a battlefield, "I would like to have Murali next to me", he said.


A natural people person, he cares especially for the down-and-out. He is also a story-teller who gives people hope and courage to improve.

The changing face of PAP's new candidates
2015 slate is older, with more coming from private sector, as party gears up for challenges ahead
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 29 Aug 2015

After a breakneck 14 days that took reporters from nursing homes to coffee shops and People's Action Party (PAP) branches around the island, the ruling party yesterday unveiled the last of its new candidates for the coming polls.

With the introduction of its last four new faces - for Aljunied GRC - a complete view of its 2015 slate has emerged. It is fielding 24 new faces among 89 candidates, its standard pace of one-quarter renewal.

But this batch differs from what it has done in the past in ways that speak to changing times and changing challenges for the ruling party.

For one thing, its candidates are noticeably older and more heavily weighted towards private-sector backgrounds, perhaps a response to charges that the 2011 batch was too public-sector heavy and that some candidates were too young.

The median age of the 24 new faces is 42.3 years old, making them the PAP's oldest group of newbies in more than 30 years.

In 2011, the median age of new candidates was but 38.5 years old.

Ironically, the maturity of this year's batch makes MP Tin Pei Ling - excoriated for her youth and inexperience when she was first fielded in 2011 at the age of 27 - once again the PAP's youngest candidate.

Among the 2015 new faces, the youngest is lawyer Rahayu Mahzam, 35, who is contesting Jurong GRC, and the oldest is insurance firm chief executive Victor Lye, 53, a candidate for Aljunied GRC.

Fifteen of the 24 new faces are from the private sector, with the PAP's usual catch of doctors, lawyers and corporate chiefs all accounted for.

In 2011, only eight newbies were from the private sector.

Curiously, the labour movement, long a source of political hopefuls for the PAP, has yielded only one new face - Mr Desmond Choo - compared to 2011's six.

But even Mr Choo, like two others in the group, is not actually a new politician but rather a repeat candidate who lost previous contests.

He lost twice in Hougang SMC in 2011 and 2012.

The others are Mr Ong Ye Kung, who lost in Aljunied GRC in 2011, and Dr Koh Poh Koon, who lost in the 2013 Punggol East by-election.

Mr Choo is being fielded in Tampines GRC this time, Mr Ong in Sembawang GRC and Dr Koh in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

When it comes to gender and minorities, women and Indian candidates are less present in this year's batch. The five new women candidates match the number of female MPs the PAP lost to retirement and electoral contests, but the total number of seats in Parliament has gone up by two, to 89.

Hence the appearance of not one but two all-male PAP slates, in Sembawang and Aljunied GRCs - a sight unseen since 2001.

There is also only one new Indian candidate, lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai (being fielded in Aljunied GRC), while former TV personality Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) is of Indian and Chinese parentage. There were two new Indian candidates in 2011.

Given the PAP's emphasis on leadership renewal, the number of high-profile candidates of ministerial calibre is relevant.

The 2011 batch included the "Fantastic Five" of political hopefuls who PAP leaders said would make up the nucleus of the fourth-generation leadership.

This year, there appear to be only two - former top civil servant Chee Hong Tat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) and former defence chief Ng Chee Meng (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

Mr Ong Ye Kung, who was among 2011's Fantastic Five but was in the PAP team that lost in Aljunied GRC, is giving it a second shot - making it a "Terrific Two plus One," perhaps.

But statistics can only tell you so much about these potential MPs and ministers.

The Straits Times asked every new face the same four questions: Why politics? Why you? What policies will you champion?

And, for a glimpse of the candidates' softer side: What is your favourite spot in Singapore?

The resulting trends:

The new politicians - perhaps reflecting a Singaporean trait - were awkward when it came to promoting themselves.

When asked "Why you?", most hemmed and hawed and reached for their private-sector experience or years in volunteer work.

Mr David, quite possibly the most recognisable new face ever fielded by the PAP, even worried that he might sound "arrogant" in answering the question.

On the topic of the policies they want to champion, the answers were a reflection of the demographic and social challenges the country faces as a mature economy.

Five candidates were worried about social mobility, seven expressed concern for the challenges that young families face, and four said that they would home in on issues regarding the elderly.

If their hobbies are any representation of Singaporeans at large, this seems to be a nation of joggers, readers and travellers.

Some candidates stretched the boundaries of what constitutes a hobby: several felt "walking" qualified, while former defence chief Mr Ng perhaps gave a glimpse into his packed schedule when he said that his "hobby" was "spending time with the family".

The "favourite spots" answers ended up being the most memorable, despite more than one candidate initially mistakenly talking about their favourite sports - Mr Lee Hong Chuang (Hougang SMC) is a former gymnast.

Many gave politically savvy answers, naming locations in the divisions that they will be contesting for the general election; other responses cycled through Singapore's touristic highlights.

Ms Rahayu (Jurong GRC) and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) liked scenic spots along the Singapore River while Mr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) favoured the Gardens by the Bay.

Mr Amrin Amin (Sembawang GRC) and Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) loved Changi Airport for its dual sense of homecoming and adventure - "and it's air-conditioned", added Mr Amrin.

As for Mr Lye (Aljunied GRC) and Mr Ng (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC), the answer was a simple "home".

From our Secretary General Lee Hsien Loong:50 years ago, we dared to dream when most would have despaired. We worked...
Posted by People's Action Party on Friday, August 28, 2015

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