The People’s Action Party (PAP) officially introduced today its slate of candidates for the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) for the upcoming General Elections (GE).

The team remains unchanged from the time that they contested GE 2011 – they are: Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Mr Christopher de Souza, Mr Liang Eng Hwa and Ms Sim Ann. They had won 60.08 per cent of the vote against the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) team of Ang Yong Guan, Michelle Lee, Tan Jee Say and Vincent Wijeysingha in 2011.

Mr Wijeysingha has since left the SDP, while Mr Ang and Mr Tan are now members of the Singaporeans First party. This year, the SDP will likely contest Holland-Bukit Timah GRC again.

The four PAP candidates for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC are:

54 year-old Dr Vivian Balakrishnan – Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. Dr Balakrishnan is also the Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative. He has served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC from 2001 to 2006, and the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC since 2006. Dr Balakrishnan was previously the Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports from 2004 to 2011. Prior to entering politics, he became the medical director of the Singapore National Eye Centre in 1999 and the chief executive officer of the Singapore General Hospital in 2000.

“Our residents know our values, know what we stand for, know our attention to detail and our commitment,” said Dr Balakrishnan at the press conference. “We have worked very hard especially on transport, and we’re looking forward to the advent of Downtown Line 2.”

He also said that his greatest challenge has been transport, both on improving reliability, and increasing the number of buses.

“If you go out of this room and ask residents if there has been an impact on their daily commute, most of them will say yes,” he said. “We’ve done our best and I think we have delivered on all counts. On transport, amenities … is it full marks? I have never claimed full marks.”

Dr Balakrishnan added: “What we are hoping for is, if we win office, is to slow down the pace but re-emphasise and rebuild the green aspect of the neighborhood.”

He said that the Government needs to “make sure Singaporeans are equipped with skills so that we remain relevant”.

“Our economy is restructuring, every family we visit tells us they want good jobs not just for themselves but for their children … we need to make sure Singaporeans are equipped with skills so that we remain relevant.”

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources added that the upcoming General Election is not just about local issues for the GRC: “It’s about the future of Singapore – who Singaporeans can trust to look after their long-term interests.”

“During the elections, there will be lots of discussion on policies and lots of promises that will be made. (But) character, integrity, honesty, these are non negotiable for the PAP. These are pre-requisites for the PAP,” he said.

Dr Balakrishnan also rejected comments that the town improvement plans for Holland-Bukit Timah are a “carrot” for voters.

“These are not carrots, these are carefully thought out, consulted plans with our residents, and what we say is what we do,” he said. “Every four to five years it serves as a report card and it builds our track record and credibility.

“We don’t deal with carrots.”

39 year-old Mr Christopher de Souza – A lawyer. Mr De Souza has served as an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC since 2006. He is the deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) on Manpower. A former national hockey player, Mr De Souza was also a Justice’s Law Clerk to then-Chief Justice Yong Pung How and Assistant Registrar at the High Court of Singapore.

Mr De Souza pointed out that the Downtown Line is one of the infrastructures that are “greatly needed to alleviate vehicular traffic”, but added that it is “not only about infrastructure”.

51 year-old Mr Liang Eng Hwa – Managing director at DBS Bank. Mr Liang has served as an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC since 2006. He is also the chairman of the GPC on Finance and Trade and Industry.

40 year-old Ms Sim Ann, 40 – Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information. Ms Sim has served as an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC since 2011. She was previously the Senior Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Law from 2011 to 2012, and at the Ministries of Education and Communications and Information from 2012 to 2013.

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