Monday, 25 Jan 2021

Singapore GE2020: Heng Swee Keat to helm East Coast GRC

SINGAPORE – Heng Swee Keat will be leading a five-man People’s Action Party team into the battle for East Coast GRC, which is being contested for the fourth time in electoral history.

He and his team will be up against the Workers’ Party (WP) team comprising Mr Dylan Ng, Mr Kenneth Foo, Mr Terence Tan, Mr Shariff Kassim and Ms Nicole Seah.

The other members of Mr Heng’s team are Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, three-term backbencher Jessica Tan and one-term Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan, whose single-seat constituency is now part of the GRC. New face Tan Kiat How, the former IMDA chief executive, is also part of the team.

Former anchor minister Lim Swee Say and three-term MP Lee Yi Shyan, who was Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development until he returned to the backbench in 2015, will be retiring from politics.

The role of anchor minister for this GRC had been widely watched and Mr Heng’s arrival at St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School late Tuesday morning (June 30) had surprised political watchers. He had been the anchor minister for neighbouring Tampines GRC and had been expected to remain there.

The school is the nomination centre for East Coast GRC, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Sengkang GRC and Punggol West single seat.

Mr Dylan Ng, 44, who works in the finance industry and was previously fielded in the party’s team for Marine Parade GRC in 2015

Mr Kenneth Foo Seck Guan, 43, ran in Nee Soon GRC in 2015 and his team lost to the incumbent PAP, with 33.2 per cent of the vote.

Mr Terence Tan, a lawyer and director at the firm Robertson Chambers, turns 49 on Tuesday (Nomination Day). He contested Marine Parade GRC in 2015 and his team garnered 35.9 per cent of the vote.

Mr Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54, a former researcher and first-time candidate.

Ms Nicole Seah, 33, an associate director in a multinational marketing firm who has been volunteering with the WP since 2015. She was a National Solidarity Party candidate in the 2011 election.

In his post-nomination speech, Mr Heng thanked Tampines residents for their support over the years and East Coast residents for supporting his predecessor, Mr Lim Swee Say.

“Covid-19 has plunged the world into a period of profound uncertainty with a major crisis on many fronts – healthcare, economic, social, and geopolitical. The People’s Action Party has a plan to enable us to overcome this crisis, has a plan to emerge stronger from this. So I look forward to the support of all Singaporeans for the People’s Action Party.”

Ms Seah said the Workers Party has been working very hard on the ground for the last five years. “We will stand firm. We will remain courageous and we will always offer all of you, a vote for fairness, and balance,” she added.

Mr Tan added that it was a privilege to meet Mr Heng and his team in this election.

“Whoever is the victor, I always pray that Members of Parliament will work tirelessly for their residents.”

East Coast saw its first electoral battle in 2006, when a WP team led by lawyer Chia Ti Lik – then deputy organising secretary of the party – entered the fray. The PAP team, helmed by then Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar, sent their opponents packing. The WP’s vote share then was 36.1 per cent.

In 2011 – the year in which the PAP’s overall vote share fell from 66.6 per cent to 60.1 per cent – the WP mounted a fresh challenge. This time, it was up against a team led by then labour chief, Mr Lim. The PAP team won with 54.8 per cent of the vote. East Coast was the worst-performing GRC won by the party that year.

The next general election in 2015 saw a massive national swing towards the incumbent, which secured 69.9 per cent of the popular vote. In East Coast, the men in blue nevertheless garnered a 39.3 per cent vote share.

That year, Fengshan SMC was also carved out of East Coast and subsequently became the subject of a heated electoral contest between long-time PAP grassroots volunteer Cheryl Chan and the WP’s Dennis Tan, a shipping lawyer. Ms Chan won with 57.5 per cent of the vote.

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