Sunday, 23 August 2015

Lawrence Wong: GE a time to 'strengthen ties between PAP and people'

Lawrence Wong says the partnership is a key factor in S'pore's success over past 50 years
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2015

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong sees the coming election as an occasion for Singaporeans to think about whether they want to strengthen the partnership between the People's Action Party (PAP) and the people.

Mr Wong sees this relationship as a key factor behind Singapore's success in building a nation over the past 50 years, he told reporters at a session to announce the ruling party's line-up for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC at the election.

"It is a partnership that's built on trust, on the people trusting in the PAP leadership, on the PAP upholding its values of acting for and serving the people," said Mr Wong.

"As Singaporeans think about what choice to make for... not just the next five years, but the next five years and beyond, the question is: Do we want to strengthen this special partnership and build an even better Singapore?"

The election is expected to be called soon, and Mr Wong said it is not just about building on this partnership as a nation - but to give the PAP a mandate to do more for residents within their estates too.

"We certainly hope that we will have the support and mandate from Singaporeans," he added at Block 3, Marsiling Road, alongside a block party for residents.

Mr Wong, 42, co-anchors the slate in the new four-MP GRC with Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, 60. Joining them are first-term incumbent MPs Ong Teng Koon, 38, who teared up as he recounted how he had helped a needy family, and Mr Alex Yam, 34.

They will likely be challenged by the Singapore Democratic Party.

Said Mr Wong: "We come in with a track record that has been built up over the years. This GRC may be new, but the areas (it covers) have been under the stewardship of the PAP for many, many years."

As he charted the development of estates in the new GRC - from Marsiling's transformation from rubber plantations and kampungs to Yew Tee and its farming village past - Mr Wong said the changes "mirror the success of Singapore".

His team's plans include building on the area's heritage, improving transport connectivity, and introducing more programmes to help the disadvantaged.

It is also a team that brings together experience and youth to look after young and old residents, he said.

Mr Wong is a first-term MP for West Coast GRC, and Madam Halimah has been a Jurong GRC MP for the past 14 years. Both were deployed to contest the new GRC after electoral boundaries were announced on July 24, and have been walking the ground since then.

Mr Ong's Woodgrove ward and Mr Yam's Yew Tee ward are part of this GRC, which also includes retiring MP Hawazi Daipi's Marsiling ward as well as new housing developments in both Woodlands and Yew Tee housing estates.

If elected, Mr Wong said their first priority would be to form a new town council and set up offices that are convenient to residents.

Madam Halimah said she visited all 456 units in the block on Thursday night, and told residents she heard their aspirations, and that the team will put in place programmes for them.

Asked if her role as Speaker meant she could not speak up for residents in Parliament, she said much of the work of an MP was work on the ground "that includes following up with the relevant ministries and agencies" on issues.

"I will be doing the work to represent them as best as possible and it need not be in the public eye... No ministry has felt that I am less rigorous or vigorous... when I was Speaker over the last two years," she said.

Dishing out new level of service
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2015

As the People's Action Party (PAP) announced its candidates across the island in the past 10 days, they unfailingly spoke about serving the people.

Yesterday, the four-member team for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC went a step further.

While a three-man band serenaded about 200 pioneers with a repertoire of golden oldies, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and backbenchers Alex Yam and Ong Teng Koon picked up serving spoons to dish out plates of food to the residents.

The lunch at the void deck of Block 3, Marsiling Drive, a block of rental flats, preceded a formal introduction of the PAP team that hopes to win the support of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC residents in the coming elections.

Explaining the reason for picking the spot and event, Mr Wong said: "In a way, it reflects what we want to do in our GRC.

"We will have that spirit of service for the residents - to be able to have more programmes to reach out to residents in need... and make sure that, within the GRC, we continue to care for and look after all our residents."

This year, the PAP has bucked its custom of announcing candidates at the party's headquarters in a relatively formal setting.

The venues for its flurry of announcements have been a mixed bag, ranging from coffee shops and branch offices to homes for the elderly and void decks.

Yesterday, Mr Lim Biow Chuan took a stroll down memory lane at an exhibition with Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, before announcing he would defend Mountbatten SMC.

Mr Lim, a two-term MP, mingled with residents at the "Memories of Mountbatten" exhibition, which looks at how the town has changed over the years, while children played traditional games, including hopscotch.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor chose a void-deck setting to announce that she will stand once more in Hong Kah North SMC.

She was at Block 325, Bukit Batok Street 33, where she spoke to a group of elderly residents who gather regularly to make items such as artificial flowers or friendship bands.

Amy Khor and Lim Biow Chuan to stay put
By Walter Sim and Melissa Lin, The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2015

Two incumbent People's Action Party (PAP) MPs in single-member seats yesterday said they will stay put to defend their respective constituencies at the general election.

Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor - PAP's top scorer at the 2011 polls with 70.6 per cent of the vote - will contest Hong Kah North SMC.

Two-term MP Lim Biow Chuan will contest Mountbatten SMC, where he got 58.6 per cent of the vote in 2011.

Dr Khor, 57, and Mr Lim, 52, have represented residents in their wards for 14 and nine years respectively. Both expect to face challengers from the Singapore People's Party (SPP) at the coming polls.

Dr Khor told reporters she is not taking anything for granted, despite her strong mandate in 2011 against the SPP's Mr Sin Kek Tong.

"Every election is a new election. It's like a test. I have to start from zero and work my way up," she said. "I will campaign very hard to earn the strong support and confidence of residents."

She also unveiled a five-year plan for the ward at an exhibition at a void deck in her constituency.

A total of 44 HDB blocks will undergo the Home Improvement Programme by 2020, while two precincts of 40 blocks will come under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme. Residents can also look forward to new linkways, fitness corners and playgrounds. The upgrades will cost over $80 million, which is to be split between the HDB and the town council.

She also plans to train more volunteers to visit the homes of elderly residents, especially those living alone and those over 65 who request such visits.

In Mountbatten, Mr Lim's candidacy was announced by Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin outside the PAP branch office.

Mr Tan, the anchor minister for Marine Parade GRC, praised Mr Lim for his work as chairman of the Marine Parade Town Council, which also looks after Mountbatten SMC.

"Some of the estates in the town council are getting older, and how you administer the sinking fund is really important," he said.

Mr Tan added that Mr Lim meets residents up to five times a week, and has been vocal in Parliament, and "dogged" in lobbying for greater focus on character development in schools, concession fares for polytechnic students, and the lemon law to better protect consumers against defective products.

Mr Lim said he would "want to continue to influence policies so that we can have a kinder and more compassionate society".

He promised more covered linkways and upgraded amenities, and to improve access to public transport for private estate dwellers, who form half his constituents.

He is likely to be challenged once again by lawyer Jeannette Chong- Aruldoss, now with the SPP.

Said Mr Lim of the contest: "I always welcome competition, it keeps you on your toes."

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