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GE2020: PAP stands by ‘rigorous, robust’ selection process which has produced many good candidates, says Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE — Following the withdrawal of new People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Ivan Lim, Mr Lawrence Wong on Sunday (June 28) said the ruling party stands by its “rigorous and robust” selection process which has “thrown up many good candidates over many years”.

Mr Lawrence Wong (second from right) with People’s Action Party candidates Hany Soh Hui Bin (second from left) and Ong Teng Koon (right) during a walkabout in Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency on June 28, 2020.

Mr Lawrence Wong (second from right) with People’s Action Party candidates Hany Soh Hui Bin (second from left) and Ong Teng Koon (right) during a walkabout in Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency on June 28, 2020.

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  • Mr Wong noted that “no process is perfect, no candidate is perfect”
  • But PAP’s selection process has produced good candidates over many years, including for GE2020
  • Mr Heng Swee Keat said Ivan Lim episode was regrettable and a review will be conducted post-GE 
  • Both Mr Heng and Mr Wong called on voters to focus on key issues at stake

 

SINGAPORE — Following the withdrawal of new People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Ivan Lim, Mr Lawrence Wong on Sunday (June 28) said the ruling party stands by its “rigorous and robust” selection process which has “thrown up many good candidates over many years”. 

Speaking to reporters before a walkabout in Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency, Mr Wong, who is a member of the PAP Central Executive Committee, was asked to respond to criticism about how PAP selects its candidates, including from some opposition members.

Mr Wong said: “No process is perfect, no candidate is perfect, but we stand by our selection process. It’s a selection process that has thrown up many good candidates over many years and in this particular election.”

Since his introduction by PAP on Wednesday, several claims have surfaced online on Mr Lim’s attitudes while in military service and in his career at Keppel Offshore and Marine. He was accused of displaying elitist behaviour during a military exercise and being arrogant, among others.

On Saturday, the PAP announced that Mr Lim has withdrawn from contesting in the July 10 polls — less than a half a day after he broke his silence on the matter, refuting some of the allegations and saying that he was “determined to stay the course and to serve if I am elected”. 

Mr Wong on Sunday noted that Mr Lim had “recognised that the controversy around his candidacy was threatening to eclipse and distract us from the serious nature and the serious issues that we have to confront during this election and during this crisis”. 

“But it is a responsible thing that he did,” said Mr Wong, who added that people should “move on from this and be focused on what's at stake for this election”.

Separately, PAP first assistant secretary-general Heng Swee Keat said the episode was regrettable. 

Mr Heng had on Saturday morning called on Mr Lim to publicly address the criticisms.

Nevertheless, Mr Heng said on Sunday that PAP secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong has made his stance clear in his letter accepting Mr Lim’s withdrawal. 

In his letter, Mr Lee, who is also the Prime Minister, said there was no time to do a thorough investigation into the accusations, given the nature of the GE campaign. 

Mr Heng said the party “will deal with those issues like we always do, after the general election”, and reiterated the need to “focus on the key issues set out in the PAP manifesto” unveiled on Saturday.

“We are facing enormous challenges ahead… The agenda is not in the next few months, but in the years ahead,” he said. 

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INEVITABLE FOR GE TO BE HELD DURING COVID-19 

Meanwhile, Mr Wong, who is also the National Development Minister and co-chairs the multi-ministry Covid-19 task force, responded to fresh criticism by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on the timing of the GE. 

The SDP plans to contest Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, against a PAP team led by Mr Wong. 

During its walkabout on Sunday morning, SDP candidate Damanhuri Abas took issue with Mr Wong for “allowing” the GE to take place amid the pandemic. 

In response, Mr Wong reiterated that Mr Lee, as Prime Minister, decides when to call an election. 

The GE has to be held by April next year, and Mr Wong pointed out that inevitably, the polls would have to be held while Singapore is in the midst of the pandemic. 

“Even if it's later, it will have to be a Covid-19 situation so regardless, this will be a different election,” he said. “It’s not as though you can say if it's done later perhaps Covid-19 will be over.”

He added: “Covid-19 is not going to be over for some time to come and we have to realise we are nowhere near the end of overcoming Covid-19. The pandemic will still continue, the virus is still with us.”

He reiterated that the Elections Department have worked out the guidelines and have put in place “a whole series of protocols and measures” to ensure the elections can be conducted safely.  

“And we certainly hope that all parties abide by these guidelines,” he added. 

Mr Wong was also asked by reporters how he is juggling the demands of campaigning and the Covid-19 task force. 

He said: “It just simply means I'm busier than normal... I have my (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) teammates with me. We will do what we can to put out our message to residents as well… I hope residents understand that part of my time will continue to be focused on managing the work as a task force which is critical. And we will not do anything less on that front.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NABILAH AWANG

Related topics

Ivan Lim SGVotes2020 Singapore General Election PAP

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