Dr Ng Eng Hen: Bishan-Toa Payoh residents are savvy
The Bishan-Toa Payoh People's Action Party team is expecting a fight - and is well prepared for it.
Team leader Ng Eng Hen said it is taking the competition "very seriously".
He was referring to the team slated to contest the GRC fielded by the Singapore People's Party and the Democratic Progressive Party.
The elections also allow candidates from both sides to tell voters what they can do for residents, he said.
"But as Mr Wong Kan Seng and I would tell you, Bishan-Toa Payoh residents are very savvy," added Dr Ng.
"They've seen many elections since this town was built and they are not easily enamoured or easily gulled by platitudes or aspirations. They vote from enlightened self-interest."
Speaking in Mandarin, Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said the PAP team is not one "hastily put together".
The opposition announced last Thursday after a meeting of opposition parties that they would be combining the teams to contest the GRC.
Dr Ng, who is Defence Minister and the PAP's organising secretary, dismissed suggestions that the party was trying to capitalise on the Golden Jubilee and the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, with the timing of the coming polls.
"We have been looking for candidates now for full four years," he said, adding that the coming elections will continue the leadership renewal process within the Cabinet.
"As the Prime Minister said in the last elections, we brought in a number of new ministers and he has characterised this election as bringing the next half. But ultimately, succession depends not only on the Prime Minister and incumbent Cabinet ministers, succession depends ultimately on Singaporeans' choice."
WHAT OUTGOING MPS SAY
WONG KAN SENG, 68
(Elected in 1984)
The former Minister of Home Affairs served seven terms as a Member of Parliament. He was first fielded in 1984 in the Kuo Chuan constituency, which has now become part of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
"Thirty-one years is a very long time. Seven terms is a very long time in Parliament. I think the only person left from my batch is PM Lee Hsien Loong.
"Not that I will become disinterested in Singapore politics, but I've spent too much time being a part of it.
"I will still take an active interest, as a Singaporean and as a party member. I will be a keen observer on what goes on and I'll continue to support all my colleagues who come after me. Don't you think I deserve a rest?"
ZAINUDIN NORDIN, 52
(Elected in 2001)
The President of the Football Association of Singapore and former Mayor of Central Singapore District is stepping down after three terms as an MP.
"I had requested to not stand for re-election because the time is right for me to focus on my family.
"Doing this for the last 15 years, it's quite a long time.
"Serving is something that comes from the heart. The grassroots leaders who have worked tirelessly, who have been there with me, are sometimes forgotten by the people."
HRI KUMAR NAIR, 49
(Elected in 2006)
The senior counsel at law firm Drew and Napier helms the Thomson-Toa Payoh ward of the GRC and has been chairman of the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council since 2011.
"I was hoping not to go into this but I have had to refocus my priorities because my wife is ill. She's doing well but that has sort of compelled me to rethink how I spend my time and my priorities."
THE LIKELY OPPOSITION
OPPOSITION: DPP secretary-general Benjamin Pwee (centre) and SPP central executive committee member Kumar Appavoo (right) distributing fliers at Bishan MRT station. ST FILE PHOTO
The likely opposition will consist of leaders from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Singapore People's Party (SPP).
They include DPP secretary-general and business consultant Benjamin Pwee and SPP central executive committee members Kumar Appavoo, 47, a director, and sales executive Williamson Lee, 35.
At a walkabout two nights ago in Bishan, also spotted were DPP's Mr Mohamad Hamim Aliyas, 50, and Ms Noraini Yunus, 47 - who contested in Jurong GRC in 2011 - as well as blogger and community worker Ravi Philemon, 46.
They will contest under the SPP banner.
Mr Pwee said on Tuesday that this decision came about because of the SPP's stronger brand recognition within the GRC.
"SPP is still very much identified with Mr Chiam See Tong," he said, referring to the veteran opposition MP who led an SPP team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC during the 2011 General Election.
Both parties are in the process of having lawyers draw up a memorandum of understanding spelling out details of the alliance.
"The document will make it clear that should both parties win, we will run the town council jointly," Mr Pwee told The Straits Times.
He added that they are negotiating on the composition of the five-member electoral team and drawing up a joint manifesto on municipal issues at the GRC.
Mr Pwee also said the DPP is still trying to work things out to meet election laws, which require all candidates contesting a GRC to be members of the same political party or independent candidates standing as a group.