Tuesday, 18 August 2015

General Election about a strong core of leaders: PM Lee Hsien Loong

Renewing leadership is paramount so country's stability, prosperity can continue
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

Singapore's current leadership has a responsibility not only to run the country and keep it going, but also to make sure there is depth in the Cabinet and Parliament, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

It also has a duty to prepare for succession so that in good time, a new team is able to take over and take Singapore further forward.

"And you don't have a government that becomes older and older every year," he added.

Mr Lee reiterated a message made by other senior People's Action Party (PAP) leaders in recent days - a major issue at the coming General Election is that of renewing the nation's leadership at the highest ranks and on the backbench.

"That is one of the important issues in this election, to have a strong core so that Singapore has the best chance of bringing forward the stability, the prosperity, the confidence (it currently has) and to be able to celebrate whether SG60 or 70 or 80," he added.

"Renewal is a work in progress, never done," he said yesterday.

Mr Lee was speaking to reporters at a press conference introducing the party's candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC, and Sengkang West and Hougang SMCs.

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean noted in an interview that a good number of current ministers are in their 60s.

Yesterday, PM Lee was also asked about the implication for leadership renewal in view of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's decision to leave politics at the general election. Mr Lui turns 54 today.

Mr Lee emphasised his regret at Mr Lui's decision to leave politics, and said that finding a new minister is not an easy task. "It's a loss to us. Tuck Yew has been doing a very good job in transport," he said.

"Regrettably, we were not able to change his mind, and so we have to respect his decision. It means I have a significant loss for my team. It means that I will need to reinforce the team even more."

On the issue of leadership renewal, Mr Lee also noted that besides identifying candidates with the right potential, time is required to assess whether they are suitable for office and to try them out.

"It is not something which we do one-off, when an MP gets elected, but progressively over the years as we watch them in Parliament or on the ground," he said.

"When we find people suitable, we will appoint them," Mr Lee added, citing Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah and Senior Parliamentary Secretary Faishal Ibrahim as examples of backbenchers who have been promoted.

He also noted that the 2011 election saw members of the fourth-generation leadership elected, including ministers Heng Swee Keat, Lawrence Wong, Tan Chuan-Jin and Chan Chun Sing.

"In the next election, I will be bringing in more people to complement and reinforce them. I have a good nucleus but I need to reinforce that team," he added.

Yesterday, Mr Lee introduced two new members of his Ang Mo Kio GRC slate and a new face for Hougang SMC. The PAP slate in Ang Mo Kio GRC will be up against a team from the Reform Party, which contested there in 2011, while Sengkang West will be contested by the Workers' Party.

Even as the PAP began introducing its candidates last week, the opposition has yet to do so formally.

But party leaders and potential candidates have been more active on the ground in recent weeks, and this continues today.

Singaporeans urged to heed issues beyond country
PM Lee also announces candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Sengkang West and Hougang
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

While welcoming the fact that Singaporeans are increasingly interested in political issues here, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said they also need to pay attention to developments in the region and beyond.

Responding to a question about Singapore society and the heightened political climate here since the 2011 General Election (GE), he noted there had been a presidential election and two by-elections, among other developments.

"It's not possible to say, 'Well, I've nothing to do with politics and I leave that to sort itself out', because it may sort itself out wrongly if you do not make yourself, make your own stand be known and be felt," he said.

But on the flip side, this could lead to Singaporeans not paying as much attention to happenings beyond the country's shores.

"We're always a little red dot, and the world around us always has a very big impact on Singapore, and many things are happening in the world around us," said Mr Lee.

"If you look at our neighbouring countries - Malaysia or Indonesia or Thailand - there are many developments... If things go well in their country, it's good for us.

"If things go wrong in their country, we get no joy. In fact, there are many downsides.

"I think that we have not paid quite as much attention on these matters as we should, as a result of being so focused on our politics."

He was speaking at the People's Action Party (PAP) Punggol South branch, where he announced the new six-member slate for Ang Mo Kio GRC and candidates for single-seat wards Sengkang West and Hougang. There are three new additions to the Prime Minister's team: former television personality Darryl David, 44; Dr Koh Poh Koon, 43, who ran in the Punggol East by-election in 2013; and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh, whose Punggol South ward became part of Ang Mo Kio GRC after the last electoral boundaries review. They join two incumbents: Mr Ang Hin Kee and Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar. Veteran MPs Seng Han Thong and Inderjit Singh are retiring from politics.

Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min will defend Sengkang West, while new face Lee Hong Chuang will do battle with the Workers' Party in Hougang.

In a surprise move, PM Lee said four-term Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Yeo Guat Kwang, who some predicted might step down, will be redeployed elsewhere.

But even as the PAP continued to introduce candidates, PM Lee did not want to be drawn on the timing of the elections and whether the PAP was capitalising on the afterglow of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, and on the death of former PM Lee Kuan Yew.

"I have not said that the elections are about to come. We are introducing candidates. When the election comes, it will come.

"It's been more than four years since the last GE. It's not - if you say early - it's not early. If you say late, it's not late," he said.

"I have to make a judgment about when is a good time to call the elections. And when I do so, I'll explain why I'm doing that."

Noting that all the constituencies look set to be contested, he emphasised that the upcoming elections are about Singapore's future.

"You're voting to choose the next Government, you're voting to choose the party and the team which you can trust to safeguard your future.

"And you're also choosing the team of MPs in the constituencies to take care of the town council and look after the funds. In Parliament, your vote will decide the MPs and ministers who will look after Singapore and take it forward...

"I ask voters, please vote for the PAP team, vote for me and my team so that you and your children can have a brighter future."

The Reform Party (RP) aims to contest Ang Mo Kio GRC, having fielded a team there in 2011. RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam visited the constituency yesterday but the party has yet to reveal its slate.

Seng Han Thong and Inderjit to retire, Yeo Guat Kwang redeployed
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

Veteran politicians Seng Han Thong and Inderjit Singh are retiring from politics, but in a surprise move, their fellow MP in Ang Mo Kio GRC Yeo Guat Kwang will be redeployed to another constituency.

Where Mr Yeo will stand will be made known at a later date, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

All three entered politics in 1997, and their departure means that half of the group representation constituency's six-man slate for the upcoming general election will be different from the previous line-up.

Mr Lee, who leads the People's Action Party (PAP) team in the GRC, paid tribute to the outgoing MPs and thanked them for their service at a press conference where he unveiled the new PAP slate.

Mr Seng, 65, had paid close attention to needy residents and gone the extra mile to take care of them.

"He persevered and continued to serve even after a resident attacked him and he was severely injured," said Mr Lee, referring to a 2009 incident when a disgruntled resident poured thinner on Mr Seng and set him alight at a community event. The attack left Mr Seng requiring skin grafts.

"But he recovered, he came back and he's continued to do the work he was doing," said Mr Lee.

This work includes developing programmes to keep older residents active in the mature estate of Yio Chu Kang, and community singing events to bring residents from different races together.

"I've attended several of them. Hundreds - sometimes a few thousand people - they are singing together, mostly in tune but always in harmony," said Mr Lee with a laugh.

He added that Mr Seng, a former executive editor of Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, also had a knack for neat turns of phrase.

Responding, Mr Seng quipped in Mandarin that standing for elections is an opportunity, while retiring from politics shows wisdom. The Chinese terms for opportunity and wisdom sound similar.

He added that he has confidence in his successor, colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon, 43.

As for Mr Singh, who announced his exit from politics last month, Mr Lee said: "His attention to detail and concern for residents have made a difference on the ground."

"He's been mentoring the newer MPs in my GRC and I look forward to him helping us in the next election too," he added.

Mr Singh, 55, said he was fully focused on helping Mr Lee campaign for this election in Ang Mo Kio GRC as well as in his Kebun Baru ward, which was absorbed into Nee Soon GRC in the latest boundary review.

But he added with a smile: "You will continue to hear from me."

Mr Lee also said that Mr Yeo, 54, will be fielded in another seat.

He was first elected in the now-defunct Cheng San GRC in 1997, in what Mr Lee called "an important and hard-fought contest". He moved to Aljunied GRC for the 2001 and 2006 general elections, and to Ang Mo Kio GRC in 2011.

"Since then, he's been taking good care of Ang Mo Kio-Hougang," said Mr Lee.

Taking over in his ward is new face Darryl David, 44.

Said Mr Yeo: "Wherever I go, I will continue to do my best to serve our people."

Thankful for a second chance and ready to serve with heart
By Rachel Chang, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

After losing the Punggol East by-election in 2013 as a People's Action Party candidate, colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon is grateful for a second chance at politics.

"I'm definitely thankful for the opportunity to serve and thankful that I have another chance to hopefully make a greater contribution to Singapore and Singaporeans," the father of two said yesterday during the introduction of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Ang Mo Kio GRC team for the election.

Dr Koh, 43, said he learnt from the bruising Punggol East experience, in which he was fielded against Worker's Party's Lee Li Lian and where he garnered 43.7 per cent of the vote.

Then, he had little time to get to know residents on the ground and he also chose words poorly at times while speaking to the media, he said.

In an interview during the 2013 campaign, his comment that "everybody has a car, we have two", met with criticism as it suggested he could not understand the woes of public transport commuters and appeared detached from the average Singaporean.

Dr Koh has been volunteering in the GRC's Yio Chu Kang division for the past 10 months and will be fielded as successor to its retiring MP, Mr Seng Han Thong.

"As long as we serve residents with a heart, they (will) form their own opinions," he said. "So to me, it's more important that we do what we need to do on the ground, let residents have first-hand contact, rather than leave it to the online space to shape our character."

He did not balk at being characterised as a losing candidate who has been moved to a safe ward under PM Lee: "I would say that the focus should be on what the motivation was for the person to step forward in the first place and whether the person has the desire and ability to serve.

"In this new normal, there are no guaranteed seats. So regardless of the outcome of the first foray, what's important is that the person's heart is still good, the desire is still there."

Ex-TV host a familiar face but he wants to earn residents' trust
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

Former television host and People's Action Party (PAP) newcomer Darryl David, 44, is literally a "star" candidate.

About one in three Ang Mo Kio residents say they recognise him from his days as a host of The Pyramid Game show and a sportscaster for local and regional television.

He is now deputy director at Temasek Polytechnic's School of Design. "I guess I happened to be on telly at a time where it was pre-cable and pre-Internet," he quipped.

The experience of being in the spotlight and working with an audience came through yesterday when he was introduced as a candidate for Ang Mo Kio GRC.

So, too, did his ability to speak dialect - speaking in Hokkien when he told of an encounter with a resident. His familiarity with the dialect stems from growing up with his maternal grandmother.

When asked if Darryl David could communicate with Chinese residents, here is what he said this morning at the press conference.Get breaking news, live updates, and exclusive content, on the go, please click: http://bit.ly/pap_link_up
Posted by People's Action Party on Saturday, August 15, 2015

While acknowledging that his time in the media and entertainment scene lends diversity to the party slate, he does not think this will necessarily translate to more votes.

Rather, it is the sincerity he has shown on the ground which he hopes will swing voters the PAP's way: "People may recognise you but it's more important that they feel they can trust you."

He has tried to earn residents' trust by turning up regularly for grassroots events. He has been volunteering in the GRC's Ang Mo Kio-Hougang division for the last 18 months and will succeed its MP, Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, who is being fielded elsewhere by the party.

For a year before that, he was in Kebun Baru ward, which will be part of Nee Soon GRC at the next general election.

He hopes to bring what he says is his "very varied" background to the table. His mixed heritage - his father is Indian and mother Chinese - means he can give "a different perspective on interethnic relations".

And while he went to Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College, he works closely with polytechnic students: "I understand the importance of skills-based education and see the quality of our polytechnic kids on a first-hand basis."

I want to boost skills-based education and help the elderly
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

Darryl David, 44

Occupation: Deputy director at Temasek Polytechnic's School of Design

Family: Married to a lawyer, 41. They have a son, seven, and a daughter, four.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the National University of Singapore, Master's in Business Administration from Nanyang Technological University, Master's in Public Administration from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Hobbies: Power walking, reading, swimming and watching movies

Why politics?

I have derived great satisfaction from working as a grassroots leader over the last few years. But I think politics will allow me to continue to serve at a different level and in a different capacity, to better society in a broader way than what I am doing now.

Why you?

I can't answer why I'm qualified for politics without sounding too arrogant, but I hope to be able to serve the people. I have spent time trying to understand the issues that residents and Singaporeans deal with. And, by learning from Members of Parliament, and working with the grassroots, I think I've stored up experiences which will allow me to contribute to society.

What issues will you focus on?

Having more childcare and student care centres is not just a local issue but a national one, so is dealing with an ageing population.

As an educator, I am a big supporter of skills-based education. I've seen what our polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education students are capable of and I think we should continue to push them.

Favourite spot in Singapore?

Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, which I live quite close to. My kids and I spend a lot of time there.

I cycle with my boy there about once a week. It's a place where I have a lot of happy family memories.

Teck Ghee residents can look forward to more upgrading works: PM Lee
These include an improved community centre, which will be completed by 2017, and several Home Improvement Programmes (HIP) projects.
By Faris Mokhtar and Vimita Mohandas, Channel NewsAsia, 15 Aug 2015

Residents in Teck Ghee can look forward to more upgrading works within the constituency this year and also in the years ahead, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

These include an improved community centre, which will be completed by 2017, and several Home Improvement Programmes (HIP) projects.

Mr Lee, who is a Member of Parliament of the ward, said this at the Ang Mo Kio National Day Dinner on Saturday evening (Aug 15).

"Besides that, we will be upgrading our blocks. We have several HIP projects already, but we will have more HIP projects this year and next year. Year by year, we will make this place better. Year by year, as our children grow up, we will see that we are able to make our lives improve," he said.

At the dinner, Mr Lee also introduced to residents the PAP candidates that will contest alongside him in Ang Mo Kio GRC in the coming elections. The candidates had been officially announced earlier in the day.

He hoped that residents could give them their support in order to work together.

Mr Lee again thanked the outgoing MPs - Mr Inderjit Singh and Mr Seng Han Thong - for their contributions. 


At the Bishan East National Day Dinner on Saturday, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Wong Kan Seng said as Singapore becomes more diverse, bringing about consensus on national issues will not be easy.

As such, the country will need competent leaders with integrity, foresight and drive. He said the Government must also make decisions that are in the best interest of Singaporeans and not just because they want to be popular.

Also present at the event was anchor minister for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Dr Ng Eng Hen, who shared with residents how the areas in the constituency have been spruced up with the addition of facilities and amenities. These included new lifts at multi-storey car parks, subsidised hand rails for the elderly in HDB flats and fitness stations.

Dr Ng also mentioned that the neighbouring Potong Pasir constituency has become more vibrant under MP Sitoh Yih Pin, with the completion of the Kallang River Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters Programme. He added that it would be good for the entire central region if both towns continue to improve.

PAP's new face in Hougang SMC gearing up for a tough fight
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in the opposition stronghold of Hougang SMC, Mr Lee Hong Chuang, is expecting a tough fight ahead of him.

After all, the Workers' Party (WP) has held the single-seat ward for 24 years since party chief Low Thia Khiang won it in 1991.

"Hougang is not going to be easy ground. So I often think that one should not think just of oneself. It's about thinking of others, observing them and serving them," said the 45-year-old senior IT manager.

The odds of the contest ahead were acknowledged by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when he introduced Mr Lee to the media at a press conference yesterday as the man the PAP will field in Hougang.

Said PM Lee, the PAP's secretary-general: "In Hougang, Hong Chuang expects to have a tough fight. But I know him, he has a fighting spirit, and he is going there with the full backing of the party."

"We want to tell Hougang voters that their current MP is not serving them as well as he could or should, whether in the town council or in Parliament. Hong Chuang, backed by the PAP, can do much better," he added, referring to MP Png Eng Huat of the WP.

Mr Lee, who began walking the ground last May, said that the infrastructure in Hougang, an older estate, can be further improved.

His key strategy to winning over Hougang? Being sincere when meeting residents, he said.

"I want to tell residents, I'm here to serve you. I'll try my best to gain their trust, get them to understand who I am," said the father of two.

Mr Lee has been an active volunteer for more than 20 years, beginning as a camp instructor for children in 1989. He now chairs the Hougang Community Club Management Committee and its building fund, among other grassroots posts.

He introduced himself using a mixture of English, Mandarin, Hokkien and Teochew to connect with residents.

Later, he made clear to reporters that he does not see himself as a "sacrificial lamb" being sent into a fight he cannot win, saying: "My main concern in Hougang is really whether I'm able to help them resolve their problems."

He added: "Hougang is still a place which the PAP has won before. "So I hope that this time round, we can make a difference."

I want to work hard to improve the environment
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

Lee Hong Chuang, 45

Occupation: Senior IT manager at IBM

Family: Married to a 40-year-old housewife. They have a daughter, 12, and a son, 10.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Sciences from the National University of Singapore

Hobbies: Community service, sports

Why politics?

When I became a grassroots leader back in 1989, I did not really think about politics then.

I just organised a lot of events and realised that a lot of youth benefited from them.

I thought if I could influence some policies, I could influence some of these youth and speak on their behalf.

When I was asked to become a member of PAP in 2004, I thought for a while and said: Why not?

Why you?

At the end of the day, voters have to look at who can serve them, who is able to be there to make a difference for them.

So what I'm trying to do is to make my presence felt and, hopefully, they can see my sincerity and trust that I'm not just another PAP candidate.

I'm here as a friend.

What issues will you focus on?

A lot of fundamental basic infrastructure that you can see in many estates may not be in Hougang.

One example is a sheltered linkway. Residents have been requesting for this. I want to work hard and improve the environment to give them a better home.

Favourite spot in Singapore?

Right now, it's Hougang.

I frequent the coffee shops very often. They have a lot of good food: $2 chap chye peng (mixed vegetables with rice), very good chicken wings, mutton soup and even Hainanese curry rice.

There are plenty of them. I just can't resist.

Raymond Lim formally announces retirement
By Wong Siew Ying, The Sunday Times, 16 Aug 2015

Former transport minister Raymond Lim formally announced to residents of his Fengshan ward in East Coast GRC last night that he will be stepping down at the next general election.

But the 56-year-old, who has served in the group representation constituency since 2001, did not announce who will succeed him.

He told residents at a community event that he informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong "some time ago" that he intends to retire to spend more time with his family.

Thanking residents and grassroots leaders for their support, he added: "Duty, honour, country - I cannot imagine any other way to live my life."

His formal announcement will intensify the buzz around just who will replace him in Fengshan - which the Workers' Party has staked its claim to at the next general election.

Mr Lim said PM Lee asked him to identify a good successor - and he has done so. But a formal announcement will be made "in due course", he told some 1,000 residents and grassroots leaders at a Hari Raya celebration at Fengshan Community Club.

His replacement is widely tipped to be grassroots leader Cheryl Chan, 38, who has volunteered in Fengshan for 10 years.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who anchors the GRC team, thanked Mr Lim and described him as someone who always had a vision for the community and the country - and "the passion in wanting to make a difference".

He added that Mr Lim was decisive and able to translate his "passion and commitment" to policies when he was a Cabinet minister.

The four East Coast GRC MPs and some residents and grassroots leaders present rose to applaud Mr Lim after his farewell speech.

Fengshan has become a single- seat ward after boundary changes announced last month.

Ms Chan, who paid tribute to her "mentor", said Mr Lim led by example in constituency work, which meant "talking less, listening more and doing more".

There had been speculation about whether Mr Lim was going to retire and he himself hinted at it in remarks at a Fengshan National Day event this month.

Grassroots leaders were saddened by his announcement.

Among them was Ms Mahanom Osman, 58, who teared after she heard the news: "He is very kind to us, treats us like family... When we meet him at events, he would always ask if we have had our meals and ask about my kids."

Mr Lim is the 12th incumbent MP from the People's Action Party to announce his decision to retire from politics.

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