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SINGAPORE GENERAL ELECTION

PAP to unveil full slate of candidates before Aug 23: Eng Hen

In a major shift, the party will also reveal exactly where each candidate will contest before Nomination Day

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Dr Ng (third from left) with fellow Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Mr Zainudin (centre) and potential candidate Mr Saktiandi at an event to celebrate SG50 last week.

Singapore

WITH the National Day festivities over, Singapore has now entered the "election season" - and the People's Action Party (PAP) is getting ready to unveil its entire slate of candidates to the public.

The ruling party's organising secretary Ng Eng Hen said that the PAP plans to introduce the first batch of new faces as early as Tuesday, as well as announce the identities of members of parliament (MPs) who are stepping down.

The party's full slate of 89 candidates for the upcoming general election (GE), including the exact constituencies they will contest in, will be made known before the National Day Rally takes place on Aug 23.

"Over the next two weeks, until the National Day Rally or so, PAP will be making a number of announcements", Dr Ng told reporters on the sidelines of a walkabout in Bishan-Toa Payoh group representation constituency (GRC), where he is its anchor minister.

The first is on retiring MPs, a process which started last week. Those who have confirmed they will not be standing for election include Mah Bow Tan, Irene Ng, Hawazi Daipi, Inderjit Singh and Arthur Fong.

On the PAP's slate of new faces, Dr Ng, who is also Defence Minister, said that the party will not only formally introduce them to the public, but also reveal the exact constituency each of them will be contesting in.

The PAP will also highlight the work that these candidates have done in their respective constituencies over the last one or two years.

In line with that, the party plans to introduce the whole slate of candidates to each constituency, in response to feedback from residents after the last GE in May 2011.

"This is a radical change. In other words, whereas previously we only announced the whole slate of candidates on Nomination Day, we are telling you who's going to stand well before Nomination Day, whatever day that comes," said Dr Ng.

"We believe that this is better politics. It's better to tell the residents up front who is standing in their constituency so they can examine on record, what the candidates have done and can do. (The residents) can make intelligent choices after examining the political parties which are standing, and who can better serve them," he added.

When asked if there was a risk in exposing the entire slate ahead of Nomination Day, Dr Ng admitted that the opposition parties could choose to game it to their advantage.

"They look at the slate announced, because the PAP has to put in more candidates to ensure succession, not only to take care of the wards but to run the government and Singapore," he said.

"The opposition parties can say this particular constituency is having two or even three new candidates, so I should try to put up a good fight there. This is the risk that we run."

His promise to residents was that whoever the PAP put up for the GE, the candidates have been fully assessed and are able to run a town and ensure that the finances of the town council are in good order.

On the morning after National Day, Dr Ng joined three of his four GRC teammates - Josephine Teo, Hri Kumar Nair and Zainudin Nordin - to visit residents in parts of Balestier in Jalan Dusun and Ah Hood Road. These are areas that are under Moulmein-Kallang GRC, but which will come under Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC at the next GE.

Former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng, the fifth member of the five-MP Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, was not present for the house visits. Three potential PAP candidates - Saktiandi Supaat, Chong Hee Kiong and Chee Hong Tat - accompanied Dr Ng and his team.

The PAP's Bishan-Toa Payoh team is likely to go up against a combined team of candidates from the Singapore People's Party and the Democratic Progressive Party, spearheaded by Lina Chiam and Benjamin Pwee respectively.