Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

GE2020: Heng Swee Keat's move to East Coast GRC shows PAP takes WP’s challenge seriously: Pritam Singh

SINGAPORE — With Mr Heng Swee Keat leading a team to contest at East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), it “sends an important signal” that the People's Action Party (PAP) is taking the Workers’ Party’s (WP) challenge seriously, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh said.

GE2020: Heng Swee Keat's move to East Coast GRC shows PAP takes WP’s challenge seriously: Pritam Singh

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh and Mr Dennis Tan speaking to the media on June 30, 2020.

  • WP chief Pritam Singh expects tough fight, but said that he has full confidence in his team
  • WP candidates "prepared to fight" for the interests of Singapore, Singaporeans
  • NCMP position not a viable alternative for opposition voices, Mr Dennis Tan said

 

SINGAPORE — With Mr Heng Swee Keat leading a team to contest at East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), it “sends an important signal” that the People's Action Party (PAP) is taking the Workers’ Party’s (WP) challenge seriously, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh said.

PAP made the surprise move on the morning of Nomination Day on Tuesday (June 30) to field Mr Heng at East Coast. He is PAP's first assistant secretary-general and had left Tampines GRC where he was the anchor minister for the team there.

The 58-year-old’s other team-mates are incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) Maliki Osman, 54 and Jessica Tan, 54; former Fengshan Single Member Constituency (SMC) MP Cheryl Chan, 44; and new candidate Tan Kiat How, 43, the former chief executive officer of the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

They face a WP team comprising former National Solidarity Party member Nicole Seah, 33; former researcher Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54; Singapore Cancer Society deputy director Kenneth Foo, 42; lawyer Terence Tan, 48; and wealth advisory firm director Dylan Ng, 45.

Mr Singh, the leader of Singapore’s largest opposition party, said: “I would say we take their challenge equally seriously, which is why we put a strong slate of candidates in East Coast.”

He was speaking to the media near a coffee shop at Block 322 Hougang Avenue 5 — the unofficial gathering point for the party.

Mr Singh said that he expects this GE, which is held during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, to be a difficult one because WP will be going against an opponent that is not only “well-resourced”, but fights hard at every election.

However, he said that he has “full confidence” in his team. 

“I think they will do well for the Workers’ Party. I think they will prove to voters that they're no pushovers and that they will be prepared to fight for the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans — not just in Parliament, but in the constituency and in their town councils as well.”

‘CAREFUL NOT TO FALL INTO A TRAP’

Also present with Mr Singh was the party’s candidate for Hougang SMC, Mr Dennis Tan, 49.

The outgoing non-constituency MP (NCMP), who has held the post since 2015, spoke about the limitations of the position.

“Singaporeans must be very careful not to fall into this trap of thinking that a non-constituency MP is the solution for an alternative opposition,” Mr Tan said. He will be going up against PAP’s Lee Hong Chuang, 50.

On Monday, PAP’s Indranee Rajah pointed out that the NCMP scheme guarantees at least 12 opposition MPs.

It was increased from nine in 2016, when constitutional amendments were made to give them equal voting rights as full MPs.

While Mr Tan agreed that he was able to speak up on a range of issues, he pointed out that the position prevents opposition party members from sinking roots into the constituencies.

For example, Mr Tan said that he was not allowed to hold events in Fengshan SMC, where he lost against PAP’s Cheryl Chan during GE2015.

On the other hand, he said that within the WP’s constituencies, losing PAP candidates are allowed to “make use of a lot more facilities” than WP's candidates are.

If Singaporeans continue to believe that the NCMP position is the solution for an alternative voice, Mr Tan said that there is a “very strong chance” opposition party members will never be able to sink roots into a particular constituency because they are not allowed to do so.

This will just increase the “super majority” of PAP in Parliament, Mr Tan said, and this could be problematic because it would not give opposition party members the political experience they need.

“One day... if PAP were to fail or do very badly, how is another party going to take over as the government?” Mr Tan asked.

“Will Singapore want that kind of scenario? That would be disastrous.”

Related topics

SGVotes2020 Singapore General Election Heng Swee Keat Nicole Seah East Coast GRC PAP Workers' Party

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa