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Aljunied needs to move forward with the PAP: PM Lee
THOSE living in Aljunied GRC should give their full support to the People's Action Party (PAP) as doing so would enable the town - and Singapore as a whole - to continue to develop and progress for years to come, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday night.
He made this plea to the 148,142 voters in the group representation constituency (GRC), which is currently run by the opposition Workers' Party (WP).
He said he decided to attend the PAP's rally, held in an open field along Defu Avenue, to make it known that the ruling party had sent five very capable people to stand for election in Aljunied.
They are veteran politician Yeo Guat Kwang, and first-time candidates Victor Lye, Chua Eng Leong, K Muralidharan Pillai and Shamsul Kamar.
Joining the quintet on stage were former PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng, who was appointed to lead a task force to win the GRC back for the party, and Hougang candidate Lee Hong Chuang.
Speaking for 45 minutes in Malay, Mandarin and then English, Mr Lee said that Aljunied had changed enormously over the years, from being a "very poor" part of Singapore to a vibrant place with upgraded estates, green spaces and high-quality amenities for all.
Mr Lee, the PAP's secretary-general, shared some of the major plans in the works for Aljunied. These include the planned relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base, which will free up 800 hectares of land for new estates and offices; the new MRT Downtown Line 3 with four stations in Aljunied; and the ongoing development of Paya Lebar Central.
The prime minister also talked about how the PAP team led by George Yeo - Singapore's former foreign minister, who served in Aljunied for 23 years until the last general election (GE) in 2011 - had done a good job of running the town council.
"They ran it operationally well, good service, financially sound, broke even, built up its reserves, ensured something for a rainy day," said Mr Lee, who stressed that these achievements were possible because of decades of hard work by good people working together with the residents.
"It doesn't take long to demolish it and waste it away. Four years ago, we didn't win and we handed the town council to the Workers' Party. It was in good working order then . . . they took over, signed the accounts (which were) certified by the Auditor-General (to be) in a surplus," he said.
Mr Lee added that it was "unfortunate" that things didn't turn out well for Aljunied in the last four years. That was the reason why the PAP had fielded a "good team" in Aljunied to convince voters that the PAP was the right choice for them.
"You are voting for the team that will look after your town council and the team that will look after Singapore well. We intend to form the next government and take Singapore forward," he said.
During his speech, Mr Lee also spent time touting the merits of the Central Provident Fund (CPF), specifically the high interest rates for the Special and Retirement Accounts.
The first S$60,000 in one's Special Account earns 5 per cent a year, which Mr Lee joked was better than what the banks could offer. The first S$30,000 in the Retirement Account, meanwhile, earns 6 per cent interest a year.
"Why is it at opposition rallies, they never mention this? Because if they do, no one will vote the opposition, but I feel I should mention this," he said.
Mr Lee revealed that, in 2014, Singaporeans voluntarily contributed S$500 million, from their CPF Ordinary Account or using cash, to top up their Special and Retirement Accounts.
"They are not silly or ignorant. They understand, they go to the CPF website and the banks' websites to check interest rates, and they decide that CPF is better. I think they are wise," he said.
He also spoke of the many opportunities for young people here because of a strong education system and the ability to upgrade themselves even when they entered the workforce.
The children of today are the future of Singapore, he said, and they are the people who will make the country succeed. Once again, Mr Lee emphasised the need to have a "good PAP government" in charge to take care of the next generation.
The WP team defending Aljunied comprises the same five people who won the GRC in 2011: party chief Low Thia Khiang, chairman Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao, Faisal Abdul Manap and Pritam Singh. They made history by being the first opposition team to capture a GRC by securing 54.7 per cent of the vote.