“Why would we want to field somebody that we know has a higher chance of being rejected and deprive ourselves of an office-holder? Suppose you put five ministers in (Aljunied). Does that serve the purpose? Is it fair to other constituencies who have shown us greater support?” said Dr Ng.
Dr Ng, said that the PAP strategy in Aljunied GRC this time is to stick to its “golden rule” of fielding a team capable of taking care of the town. He believed that residents would vote for better management of municipal issues instead of concentrating on national issues this time round. According to Dr Ng, the minimum standard for a PAP candidate in Aljunied GRC is that they have honesty, integrity and competency, and pass muster. This is in light of the incumbent WP’s Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council being held responsible for accounting and governance lapses – detailed in a special audit report in February by the Auditor-General’s Office.
Four years ago, the WP won 54.7% of the votes in Aljunied GRC, wresting the GRC from the PAP team led by the popular Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Hwee Hua who was also Singapore’s first woman minister, Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs) Zainul Abidin Rasheed who was touted as the next Speaker of Parliament, new face Ong Ye Kung who was described as being of ministerial calibre and long-serving MP Cynthia Phua.
This time, the PAP will not be fielding such a strong team in Aljunied GRC and the neighbouring WP-held single seats of Hougang and Punggol East. The new PAP candidates are political newcomers, mostly from the private sector. PAP candidates from the civil service are usually slated for ministerial appointments. It is safe to say that Aljunied GRC, Hougang SMC and Punggol East SMC will not be getting PAP candidates who are identified to be potential office holders.
In Aljunied GRC, the apparent PAP candidates are private banker Chua Eng Leong, SMRT deputy director Kahar Hassan, former investment manager Victor Lye, Rajah & Tann lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai and voice-over artist Chan Hui Yuh. IT manager Lee Hong Chuang is likely to be fielded in Hougang SMC and CIMB Bank Catalist head Yee Chia Hsing is likely to be fielded in Punggol East SMC.
Without any heavyweight minister in the team, the political newcomers from the PAP will just be relying on their own outreach efforts and anti-incumbency against the WP in order to get elected.
If an incumbent or potential minister loses, the PAP could technically bring him into Cabinet through the Nominated MP scheme. However, Dr Ng shot down the idea, saying that it would undermine the effectiveness of the electoral system if people who are not elected become ministers.