THE key question Singaporeans should ask themselves at the next general election is whether they wish to strengthen their "special partnership" with the People's Action Party (PAP) to build an even better Singapore, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong on Friday.
"It will be an important election for all Singaporeans, because this is an inflection point for our nation. We've had 50 years of nation building, we've come through a very difficult period, and we have succeeded beyond our imagination.
"And a lot of that is due to that special partnership between the PAP and the people. It's a partnership that's built on trust - on the people trusting in the PAP leadership, on the PAP upholding its values of acting for the people and serving the people," he said at the unveiling of the party's four-member team for the newly formed Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representative Constituency (GRC) at a void deck party in Marsiling Drive.
The minister, who is also Second Minister of Communications and Information, also said that as the country gears up for the election and voters begin thinking about who they will vote for - not only for the next five years but also beyond, the question to ask is really: "Do we want to strengthen this special partnership and build an even better Singapore?"
"I think that's what this election is about - to strengthen this partnership between the PAP and the people. Not just for Singapore as a nation, but at the local level, to give the PAP a mandate that will allow us to build a better community, to do more for residents within the estates where they live."
Mr Wong and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob will co-lead Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC; backbenchers Alex Yam and Ong Teng Koon will make up the other half of the four-member group.
The team is relatively young; apart from Madam Halimah, who has served in Jurong GRC since 2001, the other three candidates are just completing their first term as Members of Parliament.
Mr Yam and Mr Ong are the area's incumbent MPs. Mr Yam now oversees the Yew Tee ward, which was in Chua Chu Kang GRC before the boundary changes; Mr Ong is custodian of Woodgrove, which was part of Sembawang GRC.
As the only completely new constituency in the 2015 electoral landscape, Marsiling-Yew Tee will get about 46,000 voters from Chua Chu Kang GRC's Yew Tee ward and another 61,000 voters from Sembawang GRC's Marsiling and Woodgrove wards.
All told, the GRC will have an estimated 107,527 electors.
Mr Wong, currently an MP in the West Coast GRC, said that although Marsiling-Yew Tee is a new GRC, the place has a rich history and heritage that the PAP team wants to build on.
"We will see how we can enhance connectivity for residents across Marsiling and Yew Tee, and also enhance the services and facilities across the whole GRC," he said.
Acknowledging that the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) had earlier expressed interest in contesting in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, Madam Halimah said: "This is a democracy. We cannot expect that there will be no competition ... But rather than focusing on the contest, we should focus on the people, strategies, pledges and programmes that we have already put in place when these wards were under the stewardship of the PAP."
Friday's formal introduction of the PAP slate was notable too for its emotionally-charged moments. Mr Ong, a commodities trader at Morgan Stanley, teared up when thanking Marsiling and Woodgrove supporters for giving him the the opportunity (to) serve four years ago. "Spiritually, it has been one of the happiest times of my life," he said, as he recounted his sense of fulfilment at being able to "touch hundreds and thousands of people, and make a positive difference to their lives".