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Two new faces in PAP's Tanjong Pagar GRC team

Joan Pereira and Melvin Yong are on the 5-member slate; Sam Tan to defend his Radin Mas seat in GE

Radin Mas MP Sam Tan (extreme left) will defend the single-member constituency. With him are members of the PAP's team for Tanjong Pagar GRC. From second from left, retired senior police officer Melvin Yong, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah, labour chief Chan Chun Sing, former civil servant Joan Pereira, and backbencher Chia Shi-Lu.


THERE were no surprises on Wednesday, when the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) officially introduced two new faces - Joan Pereira and Melvin Yong - as part of its five-member Tanjong Pagar group representation constituency (GRC) team contesting in the coming general election (GE).

Ms Pereira, 48, recently joined Temasek Cares, the charity arm of Temasek Holdings, as its assistant general manager. The mother of two was formerly the director for family life and active ageing at the People's Association.

Mr Yong, 43, retired from the Singapore Police Force last Sunday after 20 years of service. The father of two last held the rank of Assistant Commissioner and was the director of the Public Affairs Department.

Both of them have been spotted working the ground in recent weeks, and it was largely expected that the PAP would field them in Tanjong Pagar.

They join the three current members of the GRC - labour chief and anchor minister Chan Chun Sing, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah and consultant surgeon Chia Shi-Lu.

Asked for their reasons for entering politics, both Mr Yong and Ms Pereira said they felt the desire to build on their extensive grassroots work and give back to the community and the country.

Mr Yong said: "In my 20 years as a police officer and as a grassroots volunteer for more than a decade, I've had a lot of opportunity to work with many ministers and members of parliament. They have this very deep dedication and commitment to ensuring that Singapore will be a better place and Singaporeans are better taken care of."

Ms Pereira said her 25 years of grassroots experience had impressed on her the importance of anticipating and meeting the needs of residents.

"I believe very strongly in the people and in public and private sector partnership. I have developed many inter-personal skills and had the opportunity to work with people in these sectors and I wish to build on this."

Tanjong Pagar GRC has not experienced an electoral battle since it was formed as a GRC back in 1991, but that could change in the coming GE.

The new opposition party, Singaporeans First, has expressed interest in contesting there.

Mr Chan, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, described the constituency as a "very special" one for the PAP, given that the party has served there for the last 60 years.

The late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March at the age of 91, was MP in the Tanjong Pagar ward from 1955; it was a single-member constituency until it became part of the GRC in 1991.

"This is where the whole Singapore story started. We want to keep it special. It is the embodiment of the Singapore spirit to be able to turn a tough environment into one of the most endearing homes we have," said Mr Chan.

On the possibility of going head-to-head with an opposition team for the very first time, he said the team's perspective has remained consistent all along:

"Our first priority is to take care of residents. If we do our job conscientiously, the residents will take care of the result for us. We focus our energy on that first and foremost. That is what will always guide us," he said.

Separately, it was confirmed that Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sam Tan would defend his Radin Mas single seat, which he won at the May 2011 GE by defeating the National Solidarity Party's Yip Yew Weng.

Mr Tan is likely to face opposition once again. The Reform Party, led by Kenneth Jeyaretnam, has declared its intention to throw its name into the hat for Radin Mas.

Mr Tan, who entered politics in 2006 and was an MP in Tanjong Pagar GRC in his first term, said he has implemented two five-year plans to improve and upgrade Radin Mas.

"I hope the residents continue to give me the strong mandate," said the 56-year-old.