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All 7 WP MPs staying put to defend seats

PAP likely to field Shamsul Kamar, K Muralidharan Pillai, Victor Lye, Chua Eng Leong, Chan Hui Yuh for Aljunied GRC

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WP's Mr Low (left) at a walkabout at Chong Pang market on Sunday.

Singapore

ALL seven elected members of parliament from the Workers' Party (WP) will stay put to defend their respective constituencies at the upcoming general election (GE), party chairman Sylvia Lim said on Sunday.

The five-member Aljunied GRC team comprises Ms Lim, WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, Chen Show Mao, Pritam Singh and Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap.

At the last GE in May 2011, they defeated the People's Action Party's (PAP) team led by then-foreign minister George Yeo after securing 54.7 per cent of the popular vote.

Png Eng Huat and Lee Li Lian, the WP's MPs for the Hougang and Punggol East single seat ward respectively, will also stay put, Ms Lim told reporters at Chong Pang Market and Food Centre in Yishun.

The popular market is located in Nee Soon GRC, which is among the 10 constituencies that the leading opposition party has expressed interest in contesting.

Ms Lim, who is also the chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), stressed that it was "meaningful" for the Aljunied team to remain intact to seek a new mandate and continue its work there. She described the WP's experience in Aljunied over the last four years as both fulfilling and challenging, adding that the party has been inspired by the support and encouragement it has received from residents.

"We know the residents have stuck by us. Singaporeans have already shown a desire for elected opposition (MPs) and we must continue to give Singapore credible choices," she said.

The PAP has not yet officially announced its five-member slate for Aljunied, but all signs point to the quintet of Victor Lye, Chua Eng Leong, Chan Hui Yuh, K Muralidharan Pillai and Shamsul Kamar.

The five were out and about at Serangoon Gardens market during breakfast on Sunday, and they were joined by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and former PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng.

Mr Goh said he wanted to give moral support to the PAP team that has "worked very hard" over the last few years in the opposition-held constituency.

"It's a signal to Aljunied residents that the PAP remains interested in you," said the 74-year-old former prime minister, although he acknowledged that the goodwill towards him need not necessarily translate into actual votes come Polling Day.

As for the other two seats now in the hands of the WP, the PAP has so far only confirmed that 45-year-old grassroots leader Lee Hong Chuang will be its candidate for Hougang. The WP has run Hougang for the last 24 years.

The ruling party is, however, likely to field deputy speaker of parliament Charles Chong in Punggol East. Mr Chong's current Joo Chiat ward will be absorbed into Marine Parade GRC after the latest redrawing of the electoral boundaries.

Separately, WP chief Low Thia Khiang expressed his disappointment at the remarks made by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean at a media interview last Friday.

Mr Teo had questioned the WP's intention to contest the Fengshan single ward, and wondered if the party was only keen on winning that seat to help AHPETC deal with its deficits.

"As a DPM, with due respect, he wanted to comment in that way, let Singaporeans judge and see if this is the kind of standard of the PAP in politics. Is this the kind of politics that we want in future?" said Mr Low.

"Do we want to be more civilised in our political engagement (and show that) we are not a third-world country? The voters will have to decide what they want the future of Singapore to be." He also took issue with Mr Teo's suggestion that the WP leader was shedding "crocodile tears" for being disappointed with Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's decision to retire from politics.

Mr Teo had said last Friday that it was "very characteristic of Mr Low to squeeze the most political mileage out of anything".

Mr Low on Sunday said that he had known Mr Lui for a number of years in parliament, describing the PAP minister as "down-to-earth" and praising him for his knowledge and attention to detail when answering questions in parliament.

"He doesn't score political points in answering questions, and neither does he try to find a way to attack or bully the opposition," he said. "I find him a responsible minister who is prepared to be accountable and answer questions matter-of-factly, I appreciate that. That's why I say (his departure) is a loss to the Cabinet."