THE ruling People's Action Party (PAP) never goes into an election thinking it has a "natural advantage" over the opposition, says Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday to announce the five candidates for his team in Jurong group representation constituency (GRC), he stressed that the ruling party was entering the next general election (GE) armed with a strong track record and its various plans to improve the lives of Singaporeans.
"People can see. They can see what we're doing in transport, although there's a lot more work (to be done), what we've done in housing, and what we've done to create an inclusive society (and) how we are providing much greater assurance to the elderly," said Mr Tharman, who is also the PAP's second assistant secretary- general.
During the press conference at the PAP's branch office in Clementi, he drove home the point that an election is always a battle for hearts and minds. So the PAP does not take any Singaporean for granted.
"This is a government working very hard to build a better Singapore. We started on our new direction before the 2011 GE and continued at a very earnest pace in the next few years," said Mr Tharman. "On the ground, our efforts are working, but there are many years left in this. We hope the people can support us."
The government's efforts are not for any short-term political gain, but rather because it believes that this is the best way for Singapore to progress as a more inclusive and vibrant society, he said.
"It's a multi-year effort. There's no country in the world that solves the problem of inequality or unequal chances in life at one go. It requires determination, strong leadership, coordination and good hearts. We are doing this not for a political purpose but for the good of Singapore, the betterment of all Singaporeans."
There were no surprises in the five-member slate for Jurong GRC, where Mr Tharman is continuing as its anchor minister.
Besides fellow incumbent Members of Parliament Desmond Lee (Minister of State for National Development) and Ang Wei Neng, there were two new candidates in the team: Rahayu Mahzam and Tan Wu Meng. Mdm Rahayu, a former deputy registrar of the Syariah Court, is taking over the Bukit Batok East ward from Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who will be contesting in the new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.
Dr Tan, a consultant and medical oncologist, is replacing retiring backbencher Arthur Fong in the Clementi ward, which was formerly part of West Coast GRC but now comes under Jurong after the recent redrawing of electoral boundaries.
Mr Tharman said he welcomed the inclusion of Clementi for this GE because he felt the ward shared the same community vibe as the rest of Jurong. He added that he would personally spend time in Clementi together with Dr Tan.
Mr Tharman revealed that, if his team wins the coming polls, the town council would be renamed Jurong- Clementi Town Council with a separate office in Clementi to serve the residents in the area.
"Our style in Jurong is to be on the ground all the time and to serve with our hearts. That's the way we've been doing it for the last few terms," the DPM said.