Monday 14 September 2015

PAP team in Aljunied won ground through policies, outreach and WP missteps

On Friday, the PAP won back Punggol East SMC and improved its vote share in East Coast GRC, while the WP saw its margin in Aljunied GRC severely trimmed. We look at the factors that played a role in these fights. Despite losing, team of mostly unknowns improved PAP's performance in GRC
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 13 Sep 2015

There would be no victory parade for the People's Action Party's (PAP) candidates for Aljunied GRC. But a day after they came within a whisker of snatching back the constituency from the Workers' Party's (WP) top leadership, a sense of triumph emanated from the five men.

Not only had the team of mostly unknowns improved the PAP's performance in Aljunied by about 4 percentage points, but they had also forced a recount.

And in two of the GRC's five divisions - Serangoon and Paya Lebar - the team termed a "suicide squad" actually beat the WP by about 300 votes each.

Thank you Aljunied GRC residents and friends for your support!
Posted by Aljunied GRC on Monday, September 14, 2015

Serangoon, in particular, marked a big turnaround for the PAP: In 2011, it had been the division to plump most strongly for the WP.

Breaking down their success in those two wards in particular and their improvement in the GRC overall, the candidates said that it was government policies that pleased the upper-middle class, intense ground outreach, and a dip in trust in the WP leadership over its town council that were the three key factors to send support their way.

Paya Lebar and Serangoon have a higher-than-average proportion of private property dwellers, a group that was pleased with social assistance policies of the past few years which included them, said the candidates.

Unlike social assistance in the past, schemes like MediShield Life and the Pioneer Generation Package did not exclude those who live in private property, noted candidate Victor Lye.

"People feel that the PAP is listening, willing to change, and able to deliver results. They feel heard," he said.

Secondly, the candidates said that their dedicated ground presence paid off. Mr Lye has been an Aljunied grassroots leader for 16 years, while his teammates all have at least two years of grassroots experience.

They have been as present on the ground as the WP MPs have been, said some residents.

For example, lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai, the candidate in Paya Lebar, attended two wakes last night with his Paya Lebar ward activists "to see how we can be of help".

Serangoon candidate Yeo Guat Kwang, a former Ang Mo Kio GRC MP who joined the team at a late stage to shore up the slate, said that he covered as much ground as he could in the few weeks he had.

"It was very hard - most times, I met only the maid or the dog, but I tried to finish all the houses to get a random sampling of their viewpoints. We also put brochures in the letter boxes of those we could not meet, to let them know that at least we tried and we want to hear their concerns," he said.

"Even though the election is over, we won't stop."

Said Mr Pillai: "This is what grassroots politics entail. Some may perceive this as 'unglam' and mundane, but to us, it is essential we reach out at every opportunity.

"I see the results as an indication that we have been effective with our outreach."

The other two candidates on the slate were private banker Chua Eng Leong and former public servant Shamsul Kamar.

Finally, the candidates said that despite what some WP leaders maintained, the long-running saga over the opposition's management of its town council did have an effect on votes.

"Our sense was that people don't understand numbers, but they understand trust," said Mr Lye.

"Once trust has been shaken, you don't need to throw more numbers at the people."

He expressed hope that the re-elected WP team would now take steps to assuage residents' concerns: "They have won by a whisker and they are now in Parliament. It's their duty to justify the trust people have put in them."

We very nearly won in Aljunied, lost by 0.9 percentage points. Next time we will get there: PM Lee Hsien Loong. #GE2015LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 11, 2015

Thanked my voters and residents who supported our PAP team. Stood at the street corner at Hougang Mall this morning from...
Posted by Victor Lye Thiam Fatt 赖添发 on Friday, September 11, 2015

Greeting residents at the shops and market this morning with PAP Eunos volunteers. Thank you for your words of encouragement and support. Our team will continue to serve residents of Aljunied GRC.
Posted by Chua Eng Leong on Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friends of Kaki Bukit and Aljunied GRC, activists, supporters and all voters.Thank you for casting your vote to make a...
Posted by Shamsul Kamar on Friday, September 11, 2015

Sylvia Lim actually lost in her constituency to PAP Yeo Guat Kwang by 100 votes. Sylvia is an elected MP, and the voters...
Posted by Fabrications About The PAP on Thursday, September 24, 2015

'Unsung heroes' behind the PAP Aljunied campaign recognised
Around 750 grassroots leaders and volunteers attended an appreciation dinner to honour their contributions to the party's campaign in the constituency.
By Wendy Wong and Monica Kotwani, Channel NewsAsia, 28 Oct 2015

For their hard work behind the scenes, 10 volunteers were recognised during a thank-you dinner for grassroots leaders and activists who helped out during the People's Action Party's (PAP) campaign in the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

Those honoured included activists who served breakfast to volunteers, to accompanying candidates on walkabouts, and staying till past midnight to prepare the team's manifesto and other circulars.

The dinner was attended by around 750 party activists, sponsors and volunteers in the five divisions who contributed to the General Elections (GE) campaign. It was officiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

It was the first time that the PAP Aljunied team chose to highlight key volunteers to recognise their efforts.

About 700 members and supporters gathered at the Aljunied GRC Volunteers Appreciation Nite tonight. The mood was great...
Posted by Aljunied GRC on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

PAP Aljunied candidate Chua Eng Leong said that it was a good time to pay tribute to and thank their supporters. “They've been working very hard on the ground and we couldn't have made this great impact if it wasn't for their undying support, determination and resistance to come back to try to win back Aljunied," Mr Chua said. "They work tirelessly behind the scenes and they make everything work, like clockwork.”

But these "unsung heroes" were quick to point out that there were many more volunteers behind the scenes.

Mr Damien Tong was one of the 10 grassroots volunteers recognised. The 42-year-old helped mobilise the volunteers for house and block visits and planned the logistics of the campaign for the Kaki Bukit division.

The human resource and administration manager first joined the PAP 11 years ago. He came to be involved in Aljunied 10 days before the election because he “saw a need in the community”.

“The challenges we faced in Aljunied specifically is that we are in an opposition ward. But we don’t see ourselves as fighting a political party, we see ourselves as trying to fight for an opportunity to serve the residents.”

Asked what were the highlights of the campaign, he shared that Aljunied candidate Shamsul Kamar jogged with the supporters from block to block. “There were residents cheering and clapping for us. It was so fun and some of the residents will say, ‘Eh slow down, don’t worry we will support you’, so these are some of the unique situations that made us happy.”

PM Lee seen here thanking our unsung heroes, the volunteers who have helped us since 2011, right up to the recent 2015...
Posted by Victor Lye Thiam Fatt 赖添发 on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mdm Fatima Chuni, 68, is another ‘unsung hero’. The grandmother of six would wake up at 6am to cook breakfast for volunteers in the Kaki Bukit division. From mee siam to nasi lemak, the retiree helped to prepare a feast for meetings.

Since joining the party in 1992, Mdm Chuni has been an active volunteer, helping out with translation for residents during block visits and buying snacks for other volunteers.

“(The volunteers) are very friendly, we all like family,” she said. “We all want to win. 2011, I cried because my party lost. But now, I can accept it because we lost by not much. My party is like my heart.”

Mr Sunny Wee, 66, was another volunteer honoured for his contributions to the campaign.

During the election, the company director helped with media relations and in producing the PAP manifesto. “One of the cheeky things I did was I asked them cross the traffic junction like The Beatles’ Abbey Road zebra crossing,” he said.

As for being labelled an unsung hero, he said: “It was the last thing on my mind. I think for most of us, we volunteer because we want to volunteer and that’s it.”


Mr K Muralidharan who was part of the the PAP team that lost to the incumbent Workers' Party team by less than 1 per cent, said they have went back to working the ground in Aljunied just after Polling Day.

"I think we can always deepen the engagement with the existing programmes...and continue to make sure that we listen to our people carefully." People's Action Party candidate for Aljunied GRC K Muralidharan Pillai on what his team would have done differently in #GE2015, and what's next for him in his Paya Lebar ward.
Posted by 938LIVE on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"One area which we are worried about is the silver tsunami and the need to raise health literacy among seniors. This is where the two PCF (PAP Community Foundation) mobile clinics that we have - we raised own funds for this - will come to help,” Mr Murali said.

“Through the PCF initiative with the Good Life Cooperative, hopefully we can reach out to more seniors, the 'known unknowns' - people who have medical issues but perhaps they did not go for screenings, they still have not been treated, so there is still a gap. This is an area I hope to address particularly in Paya Lebar because we have a lot of seniors compared to the other divisions in Aljunied."

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