Monday, 24 August 2015

GE2015: PAP unveils candidates for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Tampines GRC and Holland-Bukit Timah GRC

PAP introduces 2 new faces in Pasir Ris-Punggol team: Ex-defence chief Ng Chee Meng, Sun Xueling
By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) has introduced two new faces in the six-member Pasir Ris-Punggol team for the coming election.

They are former defence chief Ng Chee Meng, 47, and Temasek Holdings investment director Sun Xueling, 36, also known as Soon Sher Rene.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced the line-up at the PAP Punggol North Branch at Edgedale Plains on Saturday morning.

The others on the slate are Mr Teo, Minister of State and Mayor Teo Ser Luck, Mr Zainal Sapari, and Dr Janil Puthucheary.

Ms Penny Low, 48, announced that she was stepping down after three terms as MP in the GRC.

Current Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Gan Thiam Poh, 51, has joined the Ang Mo Kio team after his Punggol South ward was absorbed into the GRC in the recent boundary changes.

Mr Ng retired from the Singapore Armed Forces on Aug 18, and is seen as a potential office-holder.

The three-star general is the highest-ranking Singapore Armed Forces officer to join the PAP to date.

Ms Sun started helping out at grassroots events in Buona Vista in 2001 before she joined Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

In the 2011 election, the PAP team fielded in Pasir Ris-Punggol polled 64.8 per cent against a Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) team.

The SDA has said it will be contesting there again in the coming election.

Ex-defence chief to focus on meritocracy
PAP's prominent new candidate wants to champion social mobility issue if elected
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

Meritocracy is a key policy that potential fourth-generation leader Ng Chee Meng wants to champion, but without it being "taken to the extremes or too narrowly defined".

The former defence chief, the People's Action Party's (PAP) highest-profile new candidate for the next general election, said without meritocracy here, he and his brothers from "an average family without networks" would not have had the opportunities they had.

Two of his brothers are top public servants and former military leaders. Mr Ng, a three-star general, is the highest-ranking military officer the PAP has inducted into politics. But Singapore's current stage of development requires a refining of the workings of meritocracy, said Mr Ng, adding that "there's no easy solution that we can just put on the table".

He said: "But we must come together to do our different parts... so we can provide this support to make a more equal starting platform for our kids."

He told reporters after his introduction in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC that he wants to champion the issue of social mobility if elected.

National debate over how elitism may undermine meritocracy was ignited in recent weeks, after Raffles Institution principal Chan Poh Meng said the school has become a middle-class one that largely caters to the affluent. All eyes were on Mr Ng, 47, yesterday as the PAP introduced more candidates for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Tampines GRC and Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

At these sessions, party leaders argued that political stability and the PAP Government's ability to plan for the long term were the most effective bulwark against the excesses of meritocracy.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who anchors Tampines GRC, said "our education system seeks to bring out the best in every child, regardless of their starting point, regardless of their financial background". The Government's commitment to broadening the pathways of excellence and ensuring that no child is deprived due to financial disadvantage is "something we've built up over many, many years".

"This is in sharp contrast to many education systems around the world where there is no sense of the long term and no strategic direction," Mr Heng said.

In Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, where Mr Ng and Temasek Holdings investment director Sun Xueling were introduced, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said young Singaporeans want an environment where they can maximise their potential.

"The way to achieve this really is to have a good, strong, stable team to take Singapore to the future, work together and build a brighter future for all of us," he said.

"I think you don't have to look very far around the region and even in developed democracies where continual conflict in the political arena actually brings paralysis, a lack of ability to plan for the long term and multiple U-turns and changes of course. That actually creates many problems for young people who wish to have a society in which they can grow."

The PAP has introduced all its candidates, except those for four group representation constituencies - Aljunied, East Coast, Marine Parade and Nee Soon - and two single-member constituencies of Fengshan and Punggol East.

These are all constituencies either facing a contest from, or which are held by, the Workers' Party. When asked about this, Mr Teo said: "All will be made known in good time."

Recap: Here's a summary of our plans to make Seng Kang, Pasir Ris and Punggol even better for all our residents....
Posted by Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Officers-turned-politicians 'same same but different'
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

They may all be military men, but each of the Singapore Armed Forces officers brought into politics to make up Singapore's fourth-generation leadership is quite different, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

What they share is loyalty, integrity, a commitment to serve and an understanding of the constraints and opportunities that Singapore faces, he said.

DPM Teo, 60, who was a navy rear-admiral before joining politics in 1992, said: "I think each of us comes in and we are quite different."

For example, few remember that Mr Teo and Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say "grew up in the crucible of the SAF" together, he noted, because they have such different personalities.

They are "same same but different," he joked, borrowing from Mr Lim's famously colloquial phrases.

Speaking after introducing former chief of defence Ng Chee Meng, 47, as one of the new candidates in his Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC slate, Mr Teo said there is a "good reason" why the PAP gets good candidates from the public service.

While it draws new faces from a wide range of backgrounds, those from the public sector "have shown, over a period of time, capability and ability to work with others and to care for Singapore," he said.

"They derive their happiness and satisfaction from the happiness and satisfaction of others - not the bottom line of a company," he added.

DPM Teo, the PAP's first assistant secretary-general, will anchor the six-member team.

Besides three other incumbent MPs - Mr Teo Ser Luck, Mr Zainal Sapari and Mr Janil Puthucheary - the slate has two new faces, Mr Ng, 47, and Temasek Holdings investment director Sun Xueling, 36.

As a three-star general, Mr Ng is the highest-ranking officer to join the PAP and stand for elections.

Cabinet ministers Tan Chuan-Jin and Chan Chun Sing were also former generals who were brought into the fold in the last General Election in 2011.

When asked how he might deal with the danger of groupthink among him and his political colleagues, Mr Ng said: "All of us have unique life experiences (and) I think we bring unique perspectives.

"Even while we were in the SAF, we spoke our minds, we shared our views.

"And the only common thing that binds us together is a common desire to serve, to achieve the best outcomes."

The best way to deal with the possibility of groupthink is to remain alert to it, listen actively to differing views and consult widely from different sectors, he said.

Mr Ng will be taking over the spot of MP Penny Low, who is retiring from politics after 14 years.

Thanking Mr Teo, grassroots leaders and residents, Ms Low, 48, said: "In the last 14 years, I've been humbled by the many occasions where our team came together to discuss issues cohesively and resolve them on the ground.

"I've learnt much and the success of Punggol New Town is indeed something which is a result of the teamwork."

Finding the best way forward where no man is left behind
By Jermyn Chow, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

Ng Chee Meng, 47

Occupation: Former Chief of Defence Force

Family: Married with two daughters

Education: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy, Master of Arts degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

Hobbies: Reading, sports, spending time with the family, going for walks and cycling. Also a big football fan.

Why politics?

When Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away, I had the opportunity and the privilege to see how Singaporeans came together, united as one people, to thank Mr Lee for his years of contributions to Singapore. That unity is derived from good leadership and good politics. So when I was asked to consider joining politics, it was about how to continue this overarching framework of unity that gave Singapore our success.

Why you?

I've always believed in working with people to bring the best ideas and different perspectives together to find the best way forward. This is needed especially given Singapore's development in a very complex world today.

What issues will you focus on?

Social mobility. I grew up in an average Singaporean family with four brothers. My parents showed me the value and the importance of hard work. Our meritocratic system afforded me the opportunities. I see social mobility as a key enabler to afford our children, and their children, a chance to aim for a brighter future. I would like to see that we are more inclusive and we leave no man behind.

Favourite spot in Singapore?

Home. After a long day's work, I go home to my family to enjoy their warmth, their care and their love.

A Singaporean born and bred
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

After she appeared at a Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC grassroots event earlier this month, People's Action Party candidate Sun Xueling, 36, was targeted by xenophobic netizens who thought she was a Chinese national because of the hanyu pinyin spelling of her name.

The third-generation Singaporean, who is also known as Soon Sher Rene, was born here and raised by her grandmother who encouraged her to volunteer and help the needy. She met her Beijing- born husband while studying in London. He became a Singapore citizen six years ago.

Soft-spoken and articulate, she said: "What's important is he took an active step to become a Singaporean. He was attracted to the values and dynamism we have here."

She hopes to change the minds of those who are less than welcoming of new citizens, saying: "They want to become Singaporeans because they love this place and want a role in building the country."

The investment banker has a young daughter and hopes to push for more support measures for parents. Her political career has been more than a decade in the making.

As an undergraduate, she started volunteering at Buona Vista and, in 2004, aged 25, she spoke at the PAP's 50th anniversary rally.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean revealed the party considered fielding her in 2011. But she was working in Hong Kong and thinking of having children.

Ms Sun said she was engaged in party activities even before 2011. Of her time in grassroots activities, she said: "It has made me a much better person. When you try to solve other people's problems, your own dim in significance."

Give families adequate support: It has real impact on productivity
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

Sun Xueling, 36

Occupation: Investment director at Temasek Holdings

Family: Married to an IT entrepreneur, 37. They have a daughter aged two.Education: Bachelor of Social Sciences (Upper Honours) in Economics from the National University of Singapore and a Master of Science from the London School of Economics.

Hobbies: Reading and swimming

Why politics?

Being involved in the community puts you in touch with local issues, which is important. But politics is a way to do more, because you have the arena and ability to debate issues, not just for the constituency, but also on the policy-making front.

Why you?

Grassroots work taught me compassion and how to see the world through my fellow man's eyes.

What issues will you focus on?

I want to ensure families have adequate childcare and eldercare, and help young mothers sustain fulfilling careers. I understand what many families go through.

It's not just about putting more infrastructure. Knowing that your child is taken care of gives working mothers confidence to pursue their career and passions. That has real impact on productivity.

Favourite spot in Singapore?

Changi Airport. It represents adventure. When I return, it reminds me of home.

Desmond Choo: 'I had asked to stay in Hougang'
He lost two elections in the single-seat ward and will now run as Tampines GRC candidate
By Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Desmond Choo, who lost twice to the Workers' Party (WP) in Hougang in two separate elections, had wanted to remain in the single-seat ward.

When pressed on what he had told party leadership about where he wanted to be fielded in the upcoming election, he said: "I definitely asked... to stay."

But he had to respect the party's decision to field him in Tampines GRC instead, said the 37-year-old.

"I believe the party makes the best decisions on behalf of the residents," he said.

The PAP's Hougang candidate this time is Mr Lee Hong Chuang, 45, a senior IT manager.

Mr Choo stood in Hougang during the 2011 General Election but lost to WP candidate Yaw Shin Leong. After Mr Yaw was sacked by the WP in 2012 over his silence in an alleged extramarital affair, Mr Choo stood in the by-election.

But he lost again to the WP's candidate, this time Mr Png Eng Huat.

Mr Choo's campaign slogan during the 2012 by-election, "Always here for you", was seen as a reference to Mr Yaw's sacking from the WP and flight from Singapore.

Yesterday, when asked about the perception that he is not keeping his campaign promise to Hougang residents, Mr Choo replied: "Since 1991 when PAP lost in Hougang, it has continued to be there for Hougang residents."

On the prospects of an easier campaign in Tampines GRC compared with Hougang - a WP stronghold since 1991 - the director of the youth development wing in labour movement NTUC said: "After going through two setbacks, you will never take any place for granted."

He said he will use his unionist background in helping residents. "Anyone who has employment needs can come to me, I will try to provide the best assistance possible," he said.

Mr Choo and his wife Pamela are expecting their first child in October. The soon-to-be first-time father also wants to champion the cause of young families, including balancing work demands and family commitments and having access to childcare facilities.

Mr Choo's fellow new face in Tampines GRC is Ms Cheng Li Hui, 39, who recounted her "simple but comfortable" childhood. "I was fortunate to have progressed in the environment the Government nurtured and this led me to believe in contributing back to society," said the daughter of a shipyard painter.

She started volunteering during Meet-the-People sessions in Bukit Panjang in 2003 and began under-studying outgoing Tampines GRC MP Mah Bow Tan in Tampines East this February. She added that she was passionate about active ageing and healthy living: "Through my interactions, I feel our seniors would like to continue to be active participants in society and have much to contribute."

Additional reporting by Charissa Yong - Former National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, who had announced that he will not be contesting next General Election, thanks the residents and his team. "My work here in Tampines is done," he says.
Posted by TODAY on Friday, August 21, 2015

Mah Bow Tan leaves politics after 27 years as MP
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

The political career of one of Singapore's longest-serving ministers, Mr Mah Bow Tan, has drawn to a close, after he passed the baton yesterday to his successors in Tampines GRC.

"My work here in Tampines GRC is done after 27 years as an MP," said Mr Mah, 66, at a press conference to introduce the candidates for the constituency.

Mr Mah was National Development Minister from 1999 to 2011.

Public housing prices and shortages were hot button issues in the run-up to the 2011 General Election. Mr Mah was re-elected to the GRC that year but stepped down from the Cabinet.

VIDEO: Education Minister Heng Swee Keat thanking Mr Mah Bow Tan for his years of service. #TampinesGRC(Video: Angela Teng/TODAY)
Posted by TODAY on Friday, August 21, 2015

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who entered politics in 2011, will lead the GRC into the next election as Tampines' anchor minister.

"It's a heavy responsibility. But I have a very good team, and we have the whole (People's Action Party) supporting us," he said in Mandarin. "I have great confidence that we can serve residents very well."

Mr Heng was part of the PAP team which won Tampines GRC with 57.22 per cent of the vote in GE 2011, a drop of more than 10 percentage points from its 2006 showing. It was up against the National Solidarity Party, which has said it will again send a team to Tampines GRC at the coming polls.

Mr Heng dismissed suggestions that he was reaping "political dividends" from the Our Singapore Conversation national feedback exercise he helmed in 2013, saying it "helped deepen our appreciation of the issues of concern to people, understand the challenges ahead and our hopes for the future".

As for Mr Mah, his political career has been eventful, beginning in 1984 when he ran against opposition politician Chiam See Tong in Potong Pasir, and lost.

In the subsequent 1988 election, Mr Mah was elected to Tampines GRC where he served six terms.

He also held the post of Minister for Communications from 1991 to 1999, where he oversaw the implementation of the Certificate of Entitlement and Electronic Road Pricing schemes. He was concurrently Minister for the Environment from 1993 to 1995.

The PAP is fielding new face Cheng Li Hui, 39, in Mr Mah's ward of Tampines East.

Also exiting Tampines GRC - and politics - this round is Ms Irene Ng, 51, who has said she is proud of the causes she championed as a three-term backbencher.

These include more help for seniors and low-income workers, as well as better cycling spaces.

'Keep retirees involved in society'
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

Cheng Li Hui, 39

Occupation: Deputy chief executive of Hai Leck Holdings, a public-listed engineering company founded by her father who now is its chairmanFamily: Single. She is the third of five siblings. 

Education: Masters of Applied Finance from Macquarie University and Bachelor of Arts in economics and statistics from the National University of Singapore

Hobbies: Brisk walking and exercising in the gym

Why politics?

From being a girl scout to assisting at Meet-the-People sessions since 2003, helping people has been such an integral part of my life. In a way, politics is the next phase. Whether it's volunteering or working in the office, I interact with a lot of people. I'd like to think I'm not too bad at interaction and that's really important.

Why you?

I'm hard-working and have a lot of passion and heart for the people. I also have management skills.

What issues will you focus on?

Active ageing. For some, it can be quite a drastic switch from being busy working to being suddenly retired. When we're done with working life in our 60s, we're likely to be looking at another 20-plus years in society. Through my interactions (with residents), I feel our seniors would like to continue to be active participants in society. If we can enable society to provide opportunites for our retirees, to contribute as they can, this would give them a more meaningful life and benefit everyone. This is something I hope to promote and drive.

Where is your favourite spot in Singapore?

Just last week I was sitting on a bench by the Singapore River after a meeting and I was looking at Fullerton Building. That has always been my favourite building. I like the architecture, especially at night when the lights are switched on.

Vivian-led team to defend seats
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

The incumbent People's Action Party (PAP) MPs for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and Bukit Panjang SMC yesterday assured residents of new facilities, more greenery and better connectivity, as they announced they would stay and defend their seats at the general election.

These include a new polyclinic and hawker centre in Senja, a fresh community garden trail and nature park in Bukit Panjang and more covered pedestrian walkways, they said in unveiling the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council's Town Improvement Plan for the next five years.

Also in the pipeline are new train stations on the upcoming Downtown Line 2, a new slip road connecting Senja Road to the Kranji Expressway, and a new boardwalk and multi-purpose stage around Bukit Panjang's Pang Sua Pond for community activities.

The Holland-Bukit Timah GRC team is led by Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and includes Minister of State for Communications and Information; and Education Sim Ann, and backbenchers Christopher de Souza and Liang Eng Hwa.

To care for you, protect your families, invest and build our collective destiny together - Sim Ann, Liang Eng Hwa,...
Posted by Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday, August 21, 2015

All four confirmed yesterday that they will defend their seats at the general election. Dr Teo Ho Pin will also defend Bukit Panjang SMC.

All five seats are set to be contested by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) led by Dr Chee Soon Juan.

In the 2011 General Election, Dr Teo secured 66.3 per cent of the votes in Bukit Panjang SMC against SDP's Alec Tok. The Holland-Bukit Timah GRC PAP team won 60.1 per cent of the votes against an SDP team led by former civil servant Tan Jee Say, who now leads the Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party.

Dr Balakrishnan said yesterday that while Singapore has achieved much in the past 50 years, a lot still needs to be done, citing the country's ageing population as one of the huge challenges ahead.

Describing his team as "time-tested" and "experienced", he said voters have to decide "who they trust to look after their future"."Character, integrity, honesty - these are non-negotiable for the PAP."

Asked whether the town improvement plans, which some see as carrots, were part of the PAP's strategy, he said: "These are not carrots. These are carefully thought out, consulted plans with our residents... It is a report card and an opportunity for our residents to judge our performance.

"It's not about promises. Words are cheap. But can you deliver? Can you do what you say?"

Ms Sim said she felt residents saw the team as "energetic problem solvers" and "people with a passionate vision for what the community can do", and hoped they would "let us maintain that momentum".

The MPs also attended the opening of a new PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots pre-school in Segar Road. The centre, which has a niche programme in creative arts, aims to meet rising demand for childcare services in Bukit Panjang.


Minister Grace Fu to stay with Yuhua ward at GE
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Sunday Times, 23 Aug 2015

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu will defend her single-seat ward of Yuhua at the next general election, and aims to "continue the journey" with residents she has represented for nine years.

She announced this at the People's Action Party's Yuhua branch office last night, before attending a National Day dinner:

"We hope to continue to make Yuhua a very happy place to live in, and I hope that the residents will give me another opportunity to serve them."

She declined to detail specific plans for Yuhua, but said that residents hoped to keep it like "a little kampong they're familiar with, despite the changes".

Yuhua has experienced a development boom, with new malls and the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital near Jurong East MRT station.

Ms Fu has served in Yuhua since 2006, when it was part of Jurong GRC. It became a single-seat ward at the 2011 polls, when she defeated the Singapore Democratic Party's Ms Teo Soh Lung, winning 66.9 per cent of the vote. The SDP said it intends to contest there again.

Ms Fu welcomes that: "Yuhua residents deserve a good contest... I think they deserve to know what the various options are, what the PAP will offer them and what the SDP will offer them."

At the dinner, she paid tribute to founding prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March, listed programmes in place, and announced that two precincts have been selected for the Home Improvement Programme, while three blocks are slated to get lifts on every floor.

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