Tuesday, 18 August 2015

GE2015: PAP teams highlight track record, experience

Only one new face among the 13 candidates introduced for three GRCs and one SMC
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor and Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

While the opening beats of the People's Action Party (PAP) campaign have emphasised political renewal, the 13 candidates introduced yesterday took a different tack, highlighting instead their decades of political and ground experience.

With only one new face among the 13 PAP candidates to be fielded across Jalan Besar GRC, West Coast GRC, Chua Chu Kang GRC and Pioneer SMC, the politicians yesterday said they represented stability and continuity, and had earned residents' trust through years of political service.

Jalan Besar GRC's slate of four candidates represents 60 years of political experience, they said.

All four - Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, Senior Minister of State Heng Chee How, Mayor Denise Phua and Dr Lily Neo - have had stints as town council chairmen.

Jalan Besar GRC is likely to be contested by the Workers' Party, whose record in running its town council has been questioned by the PAP.

"The wealth of experience that we have in running the town council and the district is our track record," said Dr Yaacob yesterday. "We have managed it well in terms of governance, in terms of transparency, and our financials are very healthy."

Track record was also emphasised by the PAP's candidates in West Coast GRC, who are likely to face a repeat challenge from the Reform Party. In the 2011 General Election, the Reform team garnered 33.4 per cent of the vote.

Asked how the PAP team planned to fight this coming campaign, Second Minister for Trade and Industry as well as Home Affairs S. Iswaran said: "We have worked on this every year, every week, from the last GE and the GE before that."

Mr Iswaran is now co-anchoring the GRC with Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, who is contesting his sixth GE. The other two candidates for West Coast GRC are first-term backbenchers Foo Mee Har and Patrick Tay, who moves over from Nee Soon GRC.

Mr Lim said "the slate represents experience as well as freshness". Though sad to leave Nee Soon, Mr Tay, a union leader, has discovered unexpected connections in Boon Lay. He has represented shipyard and shipbuilding workers before, and many of these factories are in or around Boon Lay. "I'm glad to see many old friends and I hope to add value to the West Coast team."

Similarly, the Jalan Besar GRC team brought together candidates who had once contested alongside one another, but whose constituencies were hived off as part of different GRCs.

The sole new PAP candidate introduced yesterday, banker Yee Chia Hsing, will be fielded in Chua Chu Kang GRC. He replaces retiring MP Alvin Yeo, 53, in the slate headed by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

The other two Chua Chu Kang GRC candidates are second-term backbencher Zaqy Mohamad and Parliamentary Secretary Low Yen Ling.

Chua Chu Kang GRC is likely to be contested by the newly formed People's Power Party, led by opposition veteran Goh Meng Seng.

The PAP's candidate for the Pioneer single seat, Mr Cedric Foo, is gunning for a fourth term as the area's MP.

Keeping healthcare affordable will continue to be Gan's focus
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that his focus will continue to be on keeping healthcare costs affordable, even if the issue does not feature in the coming elections the way it did the last round.

"Rather than focusing on whether the concerns of the people (over medical costs) have subsided, I always assume that people will continue to be concerned about healthcare costs," he said.

Mr Gan was speaking at a press conference to introduce the People's Action Party (PAP) team that will stand in Chua Chu Kang GRC. Besides himself, the PAP's candidates there are backbencher Zaqy Mohamad, Parliamentary Secretary Low Yen Ling and newcomer Yee Chia Hsing, a banker.

Mr Gan listed out the programmes the Government has rolled out in the past four years to bring healthcare costs down, but stressed that his ministry has not become complacent about the issue. The $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package substantially defrays medical costs for the elderly, while the Community Health Assist Scheme subsidises clinic care for a wide range of illnesses for the lower- and middle-income groups.

In addition, universal health insurance scheme MediShield Life will start in November.

Besides personal healthcare costs, Mr Gan emphasised that the costs of the system as a whole have to be monitored. "We have to ensure that the system will still be affordable for the country and for society to share," he said. The new health schemes defray expenses for individuals, but involve substantial government subsidies and increased spending. The way to keep system costs under control is to "ensure that patients get the appropriate care and not unnecessary or excessive care", he said, adding that Singaporeans can do their part by living healthy lifestyles.

The newcomer in the team, Mr Yee, 44, replaces retiring MP Alvin Yeo, 53, in the Nanyang division.

Mr Yeo is stepping down after two political terms. He has served on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, and said one of his prouder parliamentary moments was speaking up in defence of high ministerial pay - something he believed was "unpopular but right".

Mr Yeo said he was making way for new blood, and was looking forward to spending more time with his family. His message to Mr Yee was: "Look after your people. Because, ultimately, this job is about the people. Not the bricks and mortar, upgrading flats and so on... If you look after the people, you'll have their support."

Mr Yee is the head of Catalist at CIMB Bank Singapore. The father of two has been active in the grassroots since 2011. Last year, he was deployed to Workers' Party-held ward Punggol East as a potential PAP candidate. But he was moved to Nanyang three weeks ago. This, said Mr Yee - who grew up in Jurong West but now lives in Bukit Timah - was a "homecoming".

'I hope to encourage more to volunteer'
The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

Yee Chia Hsing, 44

Occupation: Head of Catalist at CIMB Bank Singapore

Family: His wife, 42, is in the hotel management industry. They have a son, 12, and a daughter, 13.

Education: Bachelor's degree in accountancy from Nanyang Technological University

Hobbies: Walking, cycling

Why politics?

I believe that Singapore has managed to be competitive because we have a strong government with a strong mandate from the people. This allows the Government to plan long-term, 15, 20 years ahead.

(If) I were an MP and adviser to the grassroots, I would be in a better position to suggest new initiatives.

Why you?

Coming from the private sector, I bring a different perspective, and I believe that diversity of opinion is important.

I hope to bring this to the table during the decision-making process. For example, day to day, I meet many SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), (and) I hear their concerns about the slowing economy.

And I've been volunteering for many years. I think the sincerity will come across.

I think my track record stands out and speaks for itself.

What issues will you focus on?

At a local level, I want to ensure that the various neighbourhood renewal programmes going on in Nanyang are carried out smoothly and with minimal inconvenience to our residents.

At a broader level, I hope to encourage more people to volunteer, not only at the grassroots but in voluntary welfare organisations as well.

Favourite spot in Singapore?

Marina Barrage. I go there with my family and fly kites with my children. We have a lot of fun, and it's family bonding time.

Plans unveiled to refresh Jalan Besar and Tanjong Pagar
By Walter Sim and Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

Two constituencies that are home to Singapore's oldest estates, Jalan Besar and Tanjong Pagar, are set to be spruced up over the next five years. Both town councils yesterday unveiled master plans to rejuvenate the estates.

At Jalan Besar GRC, which will be resurrected in the coming elections and replace Moulmein-Kallang GRC, residents can expect some 200 improvement projects worth $20 million.

"We had an election promise in 2011, and by all accounts, we have kept our promise," said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, who helms the People's Action Party (PAP) team in Jalan Besar GRC. "Now going forward, we are presenting to them our plan for the next five years."

On top of seven new residential precincts and the opening of the Bendemeer, Jalan Besar, Bencoolen and Geylang Bahru MRT stations by 2020, residents can also expect more covered walkways and communal spaces like playgrounds and fitness corners.

This plan was conceptualised by town council chairman Edwin Tong, who will not be able to see it to fruition as he is likely being redeployed to Marine Parade GRC as a candidate for Joo Chiat. "I leave with a tinge of sadness but I'm confident it is in good hands," he said.

A long-time resident, housewife Rina Mansoor, 34, said her MPs have been friendly and "rolling out projects for the people for a long time". An exhibition on the master plan will tour the GRC for residents' feedback.

Over in Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas, some $15 million to $20 million will go to town improvement projects over the next five years.

These include more outdoor lifts, sky-bridges, covered linkways between residential blocks and surrounding amenities, and drop-off porches at the foot of blocks.

The sums for upgrading have yet to be included.

Over the past five years, some $377 million has been spent on more than 1,000 upgrading and town improvement projects in Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah, referring to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew who served Tanjong Pagar for 60 years, said: "What we have is a tremendous legacy... You don't rest on the wonderful work of the previous generation.

"When the baton is handed over to you, you now have to carry that responsibility and take it forward. We ourselves also have to have a vision of where we want to go."

PAP new face Melvin Yong to contest Moulmein
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew yesterday introduced senior police officer Melvin Yong as the People's Action Party (PAP) candidate who will be fielded in his place in Moulmein at the next general election.

Mr Lui has been MP for the ward - under Moulmein-Kallang GRC - since 2006. He said in a surprise announcement last week that he was leaving politics after what is only his second term in Parliament.

Mr Yong, 43, is expected to join the PAP team contesting Tanjong Pagar GRC, which takes in Moulmein when the electoral boundary changes kick in at the next polls.

The other members of the GRC team are labour chief Chan Chun Sing, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah, backbencher Chia Shi-Lu and ex-public servant Joan Pereira - another new face.

Aside from Dr Chia, who was at another grassroots event, all were at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre where Mr Yong was introduced to residents yesterday. It was the Assistant Commissioner of Police's last day of work in the force after he put in his papers for early retirement.

Mr Chan said Mr Yong is no stranger to Tanjong Pagar GRC because parts of the constituency were under his watch when he was commander of Clementi Police Division from 2010 to 2014. "So we are happy that (Mr Yong) is here to join us and re-acquaint himself with Tanjong Pagar issues," he added.

Yesterday was Mr Lui's 54th birthday, and PAP activists at the market surprised him with a cake. He said he felt like he was 108, "because the last nine years, you got to multiply it by seven".

Ms Indranee said she and her colleagues will miss Mr Lui, but told him: "We will build on the good work you have done."

Despite his upcoming retirement, Mr Lui said he will continue to visit residents as a private citizen. "Every time before I go for events, I would pray that I continue to see them, that they remain in good health," he said. "I will continue to do the same after I leave."

Longtime Pek Kio residents like Madam Koh Kwee Soh, however, will miss him. "Mr Lui is the best minister and MP," said the 85-year-old retiree. "I am very sad he is leaving, he has done so much for me."

This is one of my favorite ladies. She has so little but she is so generous. Always giving me little gifts like key chains and CNY decorations. I promised to go back and visit her.
Posted by Lui Tuck Yew on Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hawazi mentions likely team for new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in speech
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) team to be fielded in the new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC will likely comprise Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, as well as backbenchers Alex Yam and Ong Teng Koon.

Sembawang GRC MP Hawazi Daipi, whose ward will come under the new group representation constituency at the next polls, revealed as much yesterday in a speech at a community event in Marsiling.

"You will be well served by Mr Wong, Madam Halimah, Mr Ong and Mr Yam. I am sure that the four candidates, when elected, will serve you well," said the 61-year-old Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, who is retiring at the next election after almost two decades in politics.

Mr Wong and Madam Halimah will move from West Coast GRC and Jurong GRC respectively, to co-lead the PAP team contesting the coming general election.

Mr Wong hinted last Thursday that barring any late surprises, Mr Yam and Mr Ong are likely to make up the rest of the four-member team.

Mr Yam is MP for Yew Tee ward in Chua Chu Kang GRC, while Mr Ong is MP for Woodgrove in Sembawang GRC. Both wards come under Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC following new electoral boundaries announced last month.

Yesterday, Mr Hawazi, Mr Wong and Madam Halimah distributed bags of rice to residents in rental flats in Marsiling Road. It is an initiative by the Marsiling Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) for low-income households in the area.

Mr Hawazi also introduced the two incoming GRC leaders to the residents.

Mr Wong told The Straits Times that the PAP team to be fielded in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC will be officially unveiled soon.

Meanwhile, Madam Halimah thanked Mr Hawazi for laying "a good foundation" in Marsiling: "The people in Marsiling are so accepting and open, to receive people coming in here, and I look forward to serving people in Marsiling."

Marsiling resident Kamsinah Harun said she welcomes the new MPs, but is sad to see Mr Hawazi go.

"Mr Hawazi was really great, very humble and kept a low profile, but he really helped a lot of the needy," said the 58-year-old housewife.

The PAP is likely to go up against the Singapore Democratic Party, which has expressed interest in contesting the new constituency.

PAP's Sitoh: Hard fight in Potong Pasir
Incumbent MP faces possible three-way fight, hints at new bus service for estate
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) MP for Potong Pasir is expecting a tough fight for the constituency in the coming general election.

"When you won by only 114 votes the last time, and when you have lost twice, you take nothing for granted... Whether it's a two-cornered fight or a three-cornered fight, I think our chances of winning are 50-50," said Mr Sitoh Yih Pin yesterday, as he announced that he will be defending his seat in Parliament at the next polls.

Although a first-term MP for the Single Member Constituency (SMC), Mr Sitoh is already a battle-hardened campaigner when it comes to the polls.

He contested twice - in 2001 and 2006 - and failed on both occasions to prise Potong Pasir away from veteran MP Chiam See Tong's iron grip on the estate.

Mr Sitoh finally broke his duck in 2011, narrowly beating Mrs Lina Chiam, the wife of Singapore People's Party (SPP) chief Mr Chiam, by a mere 114 votes.

"Dr Ng Eng Hen has informed me that I will be fielded in Potong Pasir again," he said yesterday at a press conference held at the Kallang River ABC Park just outside the PAP branch office. "I'm very happy about that."

Dr Ng, who is the organising secretary for the PAP, said last week that the party would introduce its candidates from Aug 12 "till National Day Rally or so", spread out at a steady pace to allow residents time to digest the announcements.

He said yesterday this has proceeded well and achieved the purpose of providing more information to residents.

By Sunday, when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers his Rally speech, the PAP would have presented the slate of its candidates except for a few remaining GRCs.

Mr Alex Yam, executive director of PAP headquarters, said introductions will then pause for two to three days to give Singaporeans a chance to digest the Rally message.

Potong Pasir, the smallest electoral ward here with just 17,389 voters, could be the only constituency facing a three-cornered fight.

Besides Mr Sitoh and Mrs Chiam from the SPP, lawyer and former National Solidarity Party secretary-general Tan Lam Siong has also said he plans to contest there as an independent candidate.

Mr Sitoh's informal, solo announcement yesterday by the river was in keeping with his playbook of eschewing PAP bigwigs in favour of focusing on "earning the trust of and winning over the residents".

Potong Pasir voters had, in earlier general elections, rejected big-money promises by the PAP, and turned their noses up at ministerial endorsements. In 2006, for instance, they spurned an $80 million upgrading package dangled by then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and returned Mr Chiam to Parliament with an even bigger winning margin than at the previous polls in 2001.

For Mr Sitoh and his team, work started in 2011 as soon as the election results were announced, and he said he was happy to have fulfilled the promises he had made to residents at the last hustings.

Besides kicking off lift upgrading across the estate, he has also set up a family service centre and more childcare centres.

He has also introduced an initiative that provides low-income families with food supplies and an education incentive award for students living in the ward.

His campaign manifesto for the next five years is ready, he added, but it will be unveiled only on Nomination Day. However, he let on that residents can look forward to a new bus service plying through Potong Pasir estate during peak hours in the mornings and evenings.

"Am I confident of a bigger margin? No, I don't dare to dream about it," he said when asked about the mandate he hopes to receive from Potong Pasir residents at the next polls.

"I'll work as hard as I can and I hope our voters can give us another opportunity to serve them."

No comments:

Post a Comment