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GE2020: Heng Swee Keat helms PAP's East Coast GRC team

SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) first assistant secretary-general Heng Swee Keat will lead its team to contest the East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), moving from Tampines GRC where he has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 2011.

GE2020: Heng Swee Keat helms PAP's East Coast GRC team

Mr Heng Swee Keat delivering his thank-you speech at St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School in Bedok North on Nomination Day, June 30, 2020.

  • Mr Heng Swee Keat moves from Tampines GRC to contest in East Coast GRC 
  • He replaces Mr Lim Swee Say, former manpower minister who has retired
  • Mr Heng had chatted with Mr Lim and got to know more about the East Coast residents he had served
  • Mr Heng had also earlier discussed the move with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) first assistant secretary-general Heng Swee Keat will lead its team to contest the East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), moving from Tampines GRC where he has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 2011.

The 58-year-old’s candidacy was closely guarded in the run-up to Nomination Day on Tuesday (June 30). 

He arrived at the nomination centre at St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School in Bedok North at about 11.30am and submitted his nomination papers for East Coast GRC shortly after that.

The other members of his PAP team in the GRC are incumbent MPs Maliki Osman, 54, Jessica Tan, 54, former Fengshan Single Member Constituency (SMC) MP Cheryl Chan, 44, and new candidate Tan Kiat How, 43, the former chief executive of the Info-communications Media Development Authority.

Mr Heng’s move followed the retirement of PAP incumbent MPs, Mr Lim Swee Say and Mr Lee Yi Shyan. 

There had been talk that Mr Heng or another PAP heavyweight moving to East Coast GRC to replace Mr Lim, a former manpower minister.

Fengshan SMC was merged into East Coast GRC after the latest change in the electoral boundaries.

It has 120,238 registered voters, compared with 96,493 previously.

The PAP will face a straight fight with the Workers’ Party (WP) there. 

WP’s team consists of former National Solidarity Party member Nicole Seah, 33, former researcher Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54, lawyer Terence Tan, 48, wealth advisory firm director Dylan Ng, 45 and Mr Kenneth Foo, 42, deputy director of Singapore Cancer Society.

In the last polls in 2015, PAP beat WP at East Coast GRC with 60.73 per cent of the vote. However, WP’s candidates comprising Mr Leon Perera, Mr Daniel Goh, Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff and Mr Gerald Giam were among the party’s best losers in a GRC.

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FILLING SUCCESSION GAP IN EAST COAST

Speaking after the returning officer confirmed his team’s nomination, Mr Heng thanked East Coast GRC residents for their strong support for Mr Lim and the PAP team there over the years.

He also thanked Tampines residents for first electing him into Parliament. PAP vice-chairman Masagos Zulkifli now heads the PAP team at Tampines GRC.

Mr Heng said that the Covid-19 crisis had plunged the world into profound uncertainty and countries are grappling with a major crisis on many fronts: Healthcare, economy, social and geopolitical. 

PAP, he said, has a plan to enable the country to overcome the crisis and emerge stronger. 

It also has a plan for the constituency and looks forward to working with residents there. 

“We humbly ask for your support and strong endorsement so that the team can continue to serve you and serve fellow Singaporeans in the coming years,” Mr Heng said. 

In a Facebook post later, Mr Heng paid tribute to Mr Lim, whom he has known for about 25 years. He described Mr Lim as a team player and a champion for workers during his time with the Ministry of Manpower and the labour movement. 

Mr Heng noted that about a year-and-a-half ago, Mr Lim spoke to him at length over dinner about his passions. These included his concerns and hopes for the residents of East Coast, where he has been serving as an MP since 2011. 

“I got a better understanding of the people of East Coast GRC — a very diverse mix of private and public housing dwellers, from a wide range of backgrounds and ages,” Mr Heng said.

“Some are born-and-bred 'easties'. Others moved here and are proud to be part of the community. There is great pride in the heritage, culture and, of course, the food in the East Coast.” 

Mr Heng said that East Coast GRC was set to face a succession gap with Mr Lim and Mr Lee stepping down. After discussing the matter with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Heng said that the party could not “afford a gap in East Coast in these uncertain times”. 

With a good team in place in Tampines, Mr Heng said that he told PM Lee he would move to East Coast.

Mr Heng noted that he has had “good discussions” with the East Coast GRC team, which has done much for the constituency over the years. 

“There is so much to learn, and I will work hard to learn it,” Mr Heng, who was deputy prime minister before Parliament was dissolved, said. 

He also said that he is looking forward to meeting the residents of East Coast. “I hope to learn about your worries as well as your hopes. I hope to earn your confidence. 

“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.” 

Asked by reporters how WP views its chances against a PAP team led by Mr Heng, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said: “The WP is honoured that the PAP has seen it fit to send Deputy Prime Minister Heng to helm the East Coast GRC. 

“But of course, we are also quietly confident that the slate that we field there, and the slate that we field in every constituency we are contesting in, is a strong and diverse slate who will be able to represent residents of the area well.”

Related topics

SGVotes2020 Singapore General Election PAP Heng Swee Keat East Coast GRC Nomination Day

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