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Politics

Singapore GE2020: The battle for largest SMC Bukit Panjang

Singapore’s largest single-seat constituency, held by the PAP’s Teo Ho Pin for the past 14 years, has unexpectedly become a hot seat following his retirement. The SMC’s 35,497 eligible voters must now choose between PAP parliamentarian Liang Eng Hwa and opposition heavyweight Paul Tambyah. Clement Yong profiles the two candidates and asks them why they should be elected.

Liang Eng Hwa focused on the ground, bread-and-butter issues


The PAP’s Mr Liang Eng Hwa in Fajar Road on Wednesday. ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

Mr Liang Eng Hwa believes that, if elected, he will be no less rigorous a check on the Government than a potential opposition Member of Parliament.

The three-term MP is staking his claim on single-seat Bukit Panjang by mostly emphasising municipal issues like estate upgrading – his passion project – as well as his track record.

But the 56-year-old People’s Action Party candidate also believes that “I do the checks and balances sometimes more rigorously than opposition members”, he told The Straits Times in an interview on Wednesday, adding that he had not shied away from debating on major national issues.

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Paul Tambyah wants to see change in economic policies


Singapore Democratic Party candidate Paul Tambyah meeting people in Bukit Panjang yesterday. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Professor Paul Tambyah has acquired a higher profile in recent months because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the infectious diseases specialist views his medical expertise as just one of the ways he can serve the country.

The professor of medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS), who has appeared on TV and radio programmes as an expert voice on the outbreak, said: “I mean, frankly, you are electing an MP, you are not electing a doctor.

“It may be beneficial, but you know, this virus is going to die out, the epidemic is going to be over.”

More importantly, Singapore’s economic policies need to change, the chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party said in an interview with The Straits Times on Wednesday.

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Singapore GE2020: Very unlikely that opposition can form the government, says Tan Cheng Bock

SINGAPORE – It is very unlikely that Singapore’s opposition parties will form the government on July 10, said Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock, saying that the warning of a freak election from Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing was a ploy to scare voters.

Speaking on Friday (July 3) after making door-to-door visits in Chua Chu Kang GRC, Dr Tan said it was “very unlikely” that the opposition parties would be able to win enough seats collectively to replace the PAP.

“Don’t frighten the Singaporeans, you know. You can fool people one time, but I don’t think you can fool them all the time,” said Dr Tan.

“(The PAP) has tried this strategy before, telling people: what happens when you wake up after polling day and find no PAP governing Singapore? But (there is) no need to worry.”

During a dialogue organised by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao on Thursday, Mr Chan said that the three largest opposition parties, the PSP, the Worker’s Party (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) could possibly replace the Government after the general election.

Dr Tan said on Friday that even if that were to happen, the civil service will “always be there to look after the country”.

“And even if (the alternative government) really happened, you look at us, what kind of people are we? We don’t want to destroy Singapore. Every change we do… is an evolution, not a revolution,” he said.

On Friday, Dr Tan also reiterated his concerns about holding an election during the Covid-19 outbreak, saying Singapore could pay a heavy price if the Government takes its eye off managing the Covid-19 outbreak “just to concentrate on politics”.

“I think an overriding factor is that it is not just about jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Dr Tan. “It’s your life, our lives. Because once (Covid-19) is not managed well, your borders will remain shut. Then what economic activity are we talking about? What kind of jobs are you going to bring here?”

A day earlier, during his party’s party political broadcast, Dr Tan similarly accused the PAP of mishandling the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Before Parliament was dissolved, you saw how the PAP government struggled to find the right answers. You saw how their boasting in January failed to prepare Singapore for the explosion of dormitory cases in April. They do not have all the answers,” he said.

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World News

‘Black Lives Matter’ movement stirs Ghanaian artist in COVID-19 limbo

DAKAR (Reuters) – A tear slipped down the cheek of Ghanaian-German artist Zohra Opoku as she recalled how the global Black Lives Matter had kindled her pain and anger while she was stranded away from home due to coronavirus lockdowns.

After Senegal closed its borders in March, the internationally renowned visual artist had no option but to remain at a residency in Dakar, where she had been creating large textile collages to explore her self-image after a cancer diagnosis.

When the death of George Floyd in U.S. police custody sparked a global reckoning over racial injustice and oppression, the 44-year-old stitched a new piece in tribute to the movement.

‘Say Their Names’ is a white and indigo-dyed canvas onto which Opoku has sewn dozens of images of an unidentified face from ancient Egyptian art. Some are printed in red and tumble from a screenprint of Opoku’s face like teardrops.

The protests “have shaken us and awakened us and sharpened our senses about what kind of world we want to live in,” she said, standing in front of the work-in-progress in her studio at the Black Rock Senegal residency.

She has a rare perspective on the Black experience after growing up surrounded by white people in communist East Germany, the daughter of a Ghanaian father and German mother.

“I was always standing out too much,” recalled Opoku, who now calls Accra home. “I learned to resist the racist energy and hate against coloured people in East Germany, especially after the wall came down.”

The quest for identity is a central theme in her work. In earlier self-portraits, Opoku obscured her face with plants. In her latest series, she combines images of bare tree branches from her native Germany with dissected photos of herself.

“I’ve always been interested in disappearing in an environment because of my upbringing,” she said.

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Politics

Singapore GE2020: That 10 million figure – When facts get in the way

Falsehoods repeated often enough can be perceived as the truth, and there is a risk this is happening in the general election.

The latest example is the slew of statements on social media platforms and online forums, echoed by several political parties, saying that the Government plans to increase the population to 10 million by bringing in more foreigners.

Some online commentators point to a Straits Times report of a dialogue Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had with around 700 students at Nanyang Technological University last year.

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan cited the report at a televised debate on Wednesday night, claiming that Mr Heng had, in an interview, toyed with the idea of raising the population to 10 million – a charge that was refuted several times by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan of the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Dr Balakrishnan had categorically stated: “We will never have 10 million. We won’t even have 6.9 million. The Government doesn’t have a target for the population.”

Shortly after the debate ended, Dr Chee put up a Facebook post with a link to the ST article.

He highlighted two paragraphs: “Singapore’s population density is not excessive, he (DPM Heng) said, noting that other cities are a lot more crowded in terms of liveable space. He cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.”

No ordinary reader of the article – let alone these sentences – would think that Mr Heng wants Singapore to plan for 10 million people.

For good measure, ST’s report on the TV debate stated that Mr Heng did not say Singapore should plan for 10 million people – nor did he mention the figure.

Had he done so, it would have been the headline, and very likely on the front page.

Instead, the headline for the article was: “S’poreans must remain open to foreigners, says Heng”. It was on page 10 of ST’s print edition.​


SDP chief Chee Soon Juan said during a TV debate that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had toyed with the idea of raising the population to 10 million – a charge refuted by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. Mr Heng stated yesterday that he did not say Singapore should increase its population to 10 million, nor did he mention the figure. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

What was actually said

MARCH 29, 2019

A Straits Times report, headlined “Heng Swee Keat on keeping Singapore open: We don’t want a world where people build walls”, on a dialogue that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had with Nanyang Technological University students, reads: “On the projected population of 6.9 million by 2030, set out in the Government’s 2013 Population White Paper, Mr Heng said the number goes beyond how densely populated Singapore would be. The social space is as important. Singapore’s population density is not excessive, he said, noting that other cities are a lot more crowded in terms of liveable space.

“He cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.”

Mr Heng neither said Singapore should plan for 10 million people – nor mentioned the figure.

JULY 1, 2020

The National Population and Talent Division, under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), issues a clarification saying recent statements on various online platforms that the Government proposes or plans to increase the population in Singapore to 10 million are untrue.

It adds that an update on the population outlook, provided in Parliament in March 2018, said given recent trends, the total population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030, and this outlook remains valid today.

In a televised general election debate, Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan says Mr Heng “toys with the idea of bringing our population up to 10 million”, and asks Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan if he would categorically tell Singaporeans that his party has no intention of raising the population to 10 million by continuing to bring in foreigners.

Dr Balakrishnan replies that the PMO has just issued a statement advising people like Dr Chee not to indulge in falsehoods, saying: “The Government doesn’t have a target for the population.” Shortly after the debate ends, Dr Chee puts up a Facebook post with a link to the March 29, 2019, ST article. He writes: “Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said at the debate that my claim that Mr Heng Swee Keat was toying with the idea of a 10m population was a falsehood. Here’s what ST reported on 29 Mar 2019…”

JULY 2 

Mr Heng makes a Facebook post noting that he did not say Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million, or mention the figure. “Let me be clear: The Government has never proposed or targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million. And if we look at today’s situation, our population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030,” he writes.

Mr Heng also posts a video of his response on the subject at the forum, which shows him saying: “On the population issue, the 6.9 million number that was put out earlier on. In fact, I met Mr Liu Thai Ker, our former chief planner, he had publicly said – it has been reported in the papers – that we should go for an even higher number and this little red dot can accommodate many more people.

“Now whether this little red dot can accommodate many more people, actually, is not strictly just a physical constraint. We cannot be thinking of 50 million people on this little red dot because it will just be so dense and unpleasant.

“But if you look at our population density as a city, it is not excessive. There are many cities which, if you look at the liveable space, it is actually a lot, a lot more crowded. But the population number is not just about physical space, it is also about the social space, it is about the sense of togetherness.”

The main point, captured in paragraphs preceding those cited above, reads: “The need for Singaporeans to have an open mindset and a multicultural outlook was one of his key messages at the two-hour forum, during which he was questioned on a raft of issues, including population growth, technological disruption and meritocracy.

“On the projected population of 6.9 million by 2030, set out in the Government’s 2013 Population White Paper, Mr Heng said the number goes beyond how densely populated Singapore would be. The social space is as important.”

Yet, as misperceptions about the matter continued to swirl on social media, Mr Heng had to come out to refute them strongly.

Yesterday morning, he made a Facebook post to state clearly that he did not say Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million, nor did he mention the figure.

He also released a brief video clip of this segment of the dialogue.

It is also worth noting the wider context in which the 10 million figure was first raised. The SDP noted that it is not an invention or something of the party’s imagination.

But neither has the Government put out plans or targets for a Singapore with 10 million. Rather, the figure was floated by a retired public servant as something to consider for the long term, out of concern about Singapore’s future and its ability to continue planning for the long term. It is a point worth thinking about as Singapore’s politics becomes more contested.

Three months after the Population White Paper drew negative reactions from many quarters – in particular, over its projection that Singapore’s total population could reach between 6.5 million and 6.9 million by 2030 – Mr Liu, former Housing Board chief executive, suggested that Singapore should actually plan for a more distant future if it is to remain a viable, liveable city.

At a public forum in April 2013 on the topic of planning for 2030, Mr Liu said: “The world doesn’t end in 2030, and population growth doesn’t end at 6.9 million.”

ST reported him suggesting that Singapore could do well to look ahead, perhaps to 2100, when it might have a population of 10 million. Since Singapore’s land area is essentially fixed, higher density is thus inevitable. But liveability can be preserved with adequate amenities and buffers of greenery.

Mr Liu repeated the figure in July 2014, saying Singapore should plan for a population of 10 million in the long term if it is to remain sustainable as a country. “The question is: How long do you want Singapore to exist as a sovereign state?” he said.

He also said that if projections were based on the upper limit of 6.9 million by 2030, Singapore could reach a population of 10 million by 2090. If it is based on the lower limit of 6.5 million, the population may reach 10 million by 2200.

We may never hit these numbers. And 2090 is 70 years away, while 2200 is 180 years away. In fact, recent trends ensure that Singapore’s population will be significantly below 6.9 million in 2030.

But for some, these facts get in the way of a campaign slogan to sway voters.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Singapore GE2020: Workers' Party is not PAP-lite, says Pritam Singh

SINGAPORE – Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh on Thursday pushed back on the suggestions that the WP is just a lite version of the PAP, calling the claim made by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan during a televised debate as an electoral ploy.

Asked during a walkabout in Kovan on Thursday about Dr Balakrishnan’s remarks that the WP manifesto outlined positions so similar to that of the PAP that the ruling party could have written it, Mr Singh said: “If that was the case, I hope the PAP takes up all our manifesto points and introduces them into their agenda, because that will really change the shape of Singapore, and we will have a more caring and compassionate society.”

During an exchange with WP Sengkang GRC candidate Jamus Lim at the debate, Dr Balakrishnan had said: “…It’s almost a position where whatever line or stand the PAP has taken, you basically use that as your reference point and take a half step to the left.”

Mr Singh on Thursday pointed to questions the WP parliamentarians had asked about the corruption scandal involving Keppel Corp and the fake news laws to draw the distinction between the parties.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Did any PAP MP file any question on the Keppel Marine scandal? I think voters should think about that. Did any of them step up to consider the other alternatives to Bills like Pofma (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)? I think these are the questions Singaporeans need to ask,” he said.

A key plank of the WP campaign at the election is the argument that checks and balances in Parliament remain important even as Singapore faces a crisis.

Mr Singh, alluding to the WP’s motto of being a responsible opposition party that will provide constructive criticism, said that even though Singaporeans want opposition politicians in Parliament to scrutinise the PAP, they are “very discerning as to the type of opposition they want”.

“We’ve tried very hard to take that perspective on board and we have created a sort of culture within the party of an opposition that is credible. Not just locally but internationally as well, we’re proud to stand as Singaporeans in spite of being the opposition,” he added.

Asked about the plaudits Assoc Prof Lim received from the performance at the debate, Mr Singh said the he “did credibly for the party”, but that there was still a loot of work to do for the upcoming polls.

He added: “All our candidates have to work hard to serve people on the ground and in Parliament, it’s more than just debates as well.”

The praise for the WP Sengkang candidate, who had participated in a debate on CNA against Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, representing the People’s Action Party, as well as Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan and Progress Singapore Party candidate Francis Yuen came amid criticism for the party’s no show at the Mandarin debate.

Mr Singh apologised to voters and explained that the party did not have any candidate proficient enough to debate in the language.

He said that while the WP has members who are comfortable making speeches and communicating to residents in Mandarin, the “qualify of the proficiency required to participate in a live debate is of a higher order”.

He asked for the forbearance and understanding of the party’s Chinese-speaking supporters, adding that the party will continue to work hard to attract bicultural Singaporeans.

Party chairman Sylvia Lim later made similar remarks in Mandarin, asking voters to support the party so that more of such talented bicultural Singaporeans will step forward to join its ranks.

But they both emphasised that any candidates they field must also have a heart for public service.

Mr Singh also pointed out that former party chief Low Thia Khiang himself had joined the party in the early 1980s because he felt that the Mandarin translations in the party’s collaterals were not up to mark and had wanted to help improve the quality.

“Hee stepped forward, and contributed.” said Mr Singh. “We hope more bicultural Singaporeans do so as well. That’s really at the heart and soul of WP and we don’t want to change.”

The issue is a particularly sensitive one for the WP, which had gained a following among Chinese-speaking Singaporeans under Mr Low, a Teochew-speaking businessman who graduated from Nantah.

It is said that part of Mr Low’s appeal in Hougang constituency, where he was first elected into Parliament in 1991, was his ability to connect with the large population of Teochew Singaporeans who were relocated there after the Government decided to clear out the pig farms that once occupied the area.

Some viewers had wondered if the party’s decision signalled that it was pivoting away from its Chinese-speaking supporter base.

On Thursday, Mr Singh sought to dispel this notion, saying: “I’m very grateful for the support of our Mandarin-only speaking supporters, and I do have to apologise for the party not sending a representative to the Channel 8 debate yesterday.”

He added that the party would send a representative to a dialogue organised by Lianhe Zaobao on Thursday.

Mr Singh was also asked if the WP’s Aljunied GRC team would take up the NCMP spots if the team loses.

He said it was too speculative to answer the question before the polls.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Singapore GE2020: Ong Ye Kung takes down video showing young boy as it violates election rules

SINGAPORE – Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has removed a three-minute video from his Facebook page, featuring a young boy living in Sembawang, after he was informed the video violates election rules.

“I had a nice conversation with a boy Jony who lives in Sembawang about how it is a good place to grow up. Jony is a great sport, we had a good chat, and we put up a short (video),” said Mr Ong in a Facebook post on Thursday (July 2).

“However, we have been informed by authorities that this is not in line with electoral rules. We have therefore taken down the video. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

The Parliamentary Elections Act prohibits primary and secondary school students from taking part in election activities between Nomination Day and Polling Day.

This means they are not allowed to appear in a video or take part in activities to promote a political party during this period.

“While this prohibition does not apply outside of this period, political parties should refrain from inappropriate use of young children who will not fully understand what they may be promoting or subjecting themselves to,” the Elections Department website says.

Mr Ong is running for re-election in Sembawang GRC, where he has been overseeing the Gambas ward.

The video shows Mr Ong in conversation with Jony, a boy in school uniform who lives in Sembawang Crescent.

“What are the places in Sembawang that you like?” Mr Ong asks him in the video.

He replies he likes Canberra Park, the beach and the hot springs park. And Mr Ong responds that “there was nothing” in that area before Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak decided to “make this into a nice park”.

The minister also explains the concept of Build-to-Order (BTO) Housing Board flats to Jony.

“Sembawang is growing, with more and more people moving into Sembawang, because it is a happening place, it is a fun place,” Mr Ong says.

“I’m explaining all this to you so that you know, if you support us, these are all the things we will deliver and make life better for you.”

Jony then asks Mr Ong: “But what if you guys don’t get elected?”

This prompts Mr Ong to reply: “Good point.”

The video ends with the phrase “Sayang Sembawang” and “Make Sembawang Special” before the People’s Action Party (PAP) logo is shown.

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Singapore GE2020: Vivian Balakrishnan refutes Chee Soon Juan on SDP's 10m population claim

Singapore’s population will not go up to 6.9 million, let alone 10 million, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday.

Responding to Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan during a live debate broadcast on TV and online, Dr Balakrishnan said the 10 million figure is a “strawman” and a “falsehood”.

During the debate, Dr Chee had taken aim at Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat for “toying with the idea” of having a population of 10 million people in Singapore.

He cited a dialogue held at the Nanyang Technological University in March last year, during which Mr Heng had said that Singapore’s population density is not excessive.

Mr Heng had noted that other cities are a lot more crowded in terms of living space, and cited former Housing Board chief executive Liu Thai Ker.

Mr Liu had raised the notion that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.

But Mr Heng did not say Singapore should plan for 10 million people – nor did he mention the figure.

Mr Liu, who is in his 80s, had raised the figure in 2013. In response to a controversial Population White Paper released that year, which projected that Singapore’s population would reach 6.5 million to 6.9 million by 2030, Mr Liu had said Singapore would do well to look beyond 2030.

He estimated that the population could reach 10 million by 2100 and said infrastructure had to be planned with this in mind as population growth cannot simply be curbed after 2030.

Singapore’s current population is 5.7 million.

The SDP has made the 10 million figure a key part of its election campaign message.

The “One No” in its Four Yes, One No (4Y1N) campaign slogan refers to saying “no” to what it says is the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) plan to increase Singapore’s population to 10 million by bringing in foreign talent.

SINGAPORE CORE

Let me state for the record: We will never have 10 million. We won’t even have 6.9 million. The Government doesn’t have a target for the population. What we want is a Singapore core that is demographically stable, able to reproduce ourselves, able to create opportunities and jobs for ourselves and able to stay as a cohesive whole. It is not a target, and it’s certainly not 10 million.

DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN

Yesterday, Dr Chee said Singaporeans are “deadly worried” about this proposal.

“Will you categorically tell Singaporeans right now that your party has no intention of raising our population to 10 million by continuing to bring in foreigners, especially foreign PMETs, into Singapore to compete with our PMETs for jobs?” he said, referring to professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

Dr Balakrishnan replied: “Dr Chee, just today, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a statement advising people like you not to indulge in falsehoods.”

The minister added: “Let me state for the record: We will never have 10 million. We won’t even have 6.9 million. The Government doesn’t have a target for the population.

“What we want is a Singapore core that is demographically stable, able to reproduce ourselves, able to create opportunities and jobs for ourselves and able to stay as a cohesive whole. It is not a target, and it’s certainly not 10 million.”

The PMO statement noted that in March 2018, the Government, in an update to Parliament, had said that given recent trends, Singapore’s total population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.

“This outlook remains valid today,” it added.

At the close of the debate, Dr Chee called on Singaporeans to vote for the SDP and again cited the 10 million figure, prompting Dr Balakrishnan to interject that it was “nonsense”.

Dr Balakrishnan said in his closing statement: “I’m afraid I have to deal with Dr Chee’s falsehood again. No 10 million. Fact.”

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Singapore GE2020: Find out where your polling station is and when you should vote

SINGAPORE – Voters can now check online where their polling station is or when their recommended two-hour voting time slot is.

Polling stations will be open from 8am to 8pm on July 10.

Unlike past elections, this time, each voter is allocated a two-hour window in which he is encouraged to head to his polling station. This will be indicated on the poll card and is meant to spread out voters across the polling hours, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Elderly voters aged 65 and above will be given two-hour windows from 8am to 12pm and may be accompanied by a household member.

Senior voters who are unable to vote during their allotted time slots in the morning can join priority queues to do so at other times of the day.

Eligible voters can check their polling station and their time slot at this website by entering their NRIC.

On Polling Day (July 10), voters can also check the queue at their polling station by visiting this website.

Heightened measures will be taken during this election, which include temperature taking at polling stations, safe distancing guidelines, mandatory sanitisation of hands and wearing of disposable gloves before receiving the ballot paper.

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Singapore GE2020: Heng Swee Keat decided to move to East Coast GRC as it cannot afford a 'succession gap'

SINGAPORE – Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (June 30) said he decided to move to East Coast GRC, as the constituency cannot afford a “succession gap” in such uncertain times.

In one of the biggest surprises on Nomination Day, Mr Heng left his Tampines stronghold – where he has been MP for two terms – to lead the five-man People’s Action Party team contesting East Coast GRC at the July 10 general election.

In a Facebook post, Mr Heng said he previously discussed the move with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“The question was: Should I move to East Coast? I thought long and hard about it,” he said. “After serving for almost a decade, I am very attached to Tampines and the people there.”

But Tampines GRC, now helmed by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, has a “very good team”, he said, adding that he has a strong successor in Senior Minister for State Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, who has moved over from Ang Mo Kio GRC.

“If I move, I can do my part in East Coast,” Mr Heng said. “We cannot afford a gap in East Coast in these uncertain times. We need a full team that can take care of the residents and position them to come out of this crisis stronger than before.”

Mr Heng replaces former Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who is retiring from politics, as the anchor minister in East Coast GRC.

He said he had good discussions with the current East Coast slate – Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, three-term backbencher Jessica Tan, one-term Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan, and new face Tan Kiat How.

“Our team looks forward to working together with our residents, to get through this crisis safely, to continue to build the East Coast spirit of care and support for one another, and to emerge stronger,” he said.

“We will build on the good work by Swee Say, Yi Shyan, and the team. There is so much to learn, and I will work hard to learn it.”

Mr Heng, who is the PAP’s first assistant secretary-general, was referring to Mr Lim and three-term MP Lee Yi Shyan, who was a senior minister of state until he returned to the backbench in 2015. Like Mr Lim, Mr Lee is also retiring from politics.

In the post, DPM Heng also paid tribute to Mr Lim for his contributions to Singapore and the work he had done in the constituency.

Mr Lim was best known for championing workers during his time as labour chief and Manpower Minister, and brought a “very balanced tripartite perspective to any discussion”, he wrote.

“I admire his ability to explain complex ideas in simple terms, often in a memorable way. Many times, I came away from Cabinet meetings struck by his ever helpful interventions,” Mr Heng said. “Swee Say is truly a team player. This is one of the many reasons I have deep respect for him.”

He recounted a dinner with Mr Lim 18 months ago, where Mr Lim “in his usual way… spoke at length about everything he was passionate about”. These included Mr Lim’s concerns and hopes for East Coast residents. The discussion helped him to better understand the people in the constituency, Mr Heng said.

He added that he and his team have a plan for East Coast to “forge ahead with unity and care”.

“We will engage with East Coast residents in this journey. I look forward to meeting the residents of East Coast that our team speaks so fondly of. I hope to learn about your worries as well as your hopes. I hope to earn your confidence,” Mr Heng said.

“If you entrust us with your vote, my team and I will do our best for you and for Singapore, to work with everyone to navigate Singapore out of this unprecedented crisis.”

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Singapore GE2020: Masagos to helm PAP team in Tampines

SINGAPORE – The PAP team set to defend  the Tampines group representation constituency (GRC) comprises Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, 57; Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, 48; Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng, 49; Mr Desmond Choo, 42; and Ms Cheng Li Hui, 44.

The National Solidarity Party slate for Tampines comprises party president Reno Fong Chin Leong, Mohamad Ridzwan, Eugene Yeo Ren Yuan, Choong Hon Heng and Vincent Ng Kian Guan.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, the anchor minister at Tampines, did not appear at Poi Ching School nomination centre on Tuesday (June 30). The primary school is a nomination centre for Tampines GRC and Hougang SMC.

He will be leading a five-man PAP team into the battle for East Coast GRC, which is being contested for the fourth time in electoral history.

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