SingaporeWith the PAP unveiling three new faces in Sengkang GRC will losing...

With the PAP unveiling three new faces in Sengkang GRC will losing candidates be fielded in ‘safer’ constituencies in the next GE?

Three new faces have been unveiled by the People`s Action Party (PAP) to chair its party branches in Sengkang GRC, a sign that they could be the ruling party’s candidates there in the next general election.

In a party statement issued by chairman of the PAP HQ Executive Committee Chan Chun Sing on Sunday (March 27), it was revealed that Associate Professor Elmie Nekmat, Ms Theodora Lai and Mr Ling Weihong will replace Mr Ng Chee Meng, Mr Amrin Amin and Mr Raymond Lye, who were part of the team that was fielded against the Workers’ Party (WP) in GE2020. Dr Lam Pin Min, branch chair of Sengkang West, will lead the PAP Sengkang GRC team. Mr Ng will also be the adviser to the PAP Sengkang GRC team.

“The Party would like to thank the outgoing branch chairs for their service and contributions to Sengkang GRC, and we look forward to their future contributions in other capacities,” said the statement. In GE2020, WP won the new Sengkang GRC with 52. 12 per cent of the vote against a 47. 88 per cent share for the PAP.

The reveal on Sunday comes after the WP faced a major blow last year when former MP for Sengkang GRC Raeesah Khan resigned from the party and Parliament after she admitted to making false allegations in Parliament.

Speaking to the media after a grocery distribution event for underprivileged families in Sengkang GRC on Sunday, Dr Lam said: “I think with our passion and enthusiasm to serve residents, we hope residents can see we are sincere in serving them and that they`ll give us their trust and support.”

He added that the introduction of the new team now would give them a long enough runway for interactions with residents before the next general election. “But whatever the reason is, as a new team in Sengkang, our main focus is to serve the residents,” he said.

Prof Elmie, 40, is an associate professor of Communications and New Media and assistant dean of research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore. Ms Lai, 36, is the chief strategy officer of food app company Burpple, and has been a party activist since 2009, including as chairman of the PAP Policy Forum from 2019 to 2020.

The party statement also said she is an active community volunteer, including as a district councillor in Northeast Community Development Council. Mr Ling, 41, is a lawyer in private practice, and has been a party activist since 2015, including as branch secretary of Sengkang Central Branch since April last year and assistant branch secretary of Woodlands Branch from 2016 to 2018.

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Past elections since 2011, have shown that in Sengkang, votes may swing either way come election time. Sengkang residents have become more matured and are not only looking at estate enhancements, but also at policy improvements on a national level.

The People’s Action Party (PAP) is known to withdraw prominent candidates from constituencies it has lost to the opposition to other wards where it deems it has a better chance of getting that candidate elected to Parliament.

In 1984, after Mah Bow Tan lost to Chiam See Tong in the Potong Pasir SMC, he was fielded in a three-member PAP team contesting in Tampines Group Representation Constituency (GRC) for the 1988 GE. Mah won with 61% of the vote in the ward which was considered ‘safe’ for the PAP.

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After Minister George Yeo’s team lost Aljunied GRC to Workers’ Party in the 2011 General Election, the PAP took Ong Ye Kung from that constituency and fielded him in Sembawang GRC for GE 2015. Sembawang GRC was then anchored by a popular Minister, Khaw Boon Wan.

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It is still unclear if prominent PAP candidates from GE 2020 like Ng and Amrin will be fielded in other ‘safer’ constituencies, or in constituencies anchored by more popular Ministers. Several ‘safe’ constituencies are now anchored by Ministers who are older in age and may retire in the upcoming GE.

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC for example is anchored by Minister Teo Chee Hean who will turn 70 by the time the next GE comes around, and is expected to retire. Jurong GRC is anchored by Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who will turn 68 by the time the next GE is called. He is also expected to retire from electoral politics by the next election.

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