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Ang Mo Kio incumbents plug estate plans, Reform Party team pledges greater attention

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong's People's Action Party (PAP) team for Ang Mo Kio GRC laid out past and future plans for the estate, while their Reform Party (RP) opponents highlighted residents' grievances and promised to give more dedicated attention in the first series of constituency political broadcasts on Friday night.

Leading the PAP's broadcast, in which all five of the GRC's candidates participated, Mr Lee started by situating constituency issues within the larger context of the Covid-19 pandemic. He noted the need to protect the health of Ang Mo Kio's many elderly residents in particular, as well as to provide economic support, with the Ang Mo Kio Town Council holding two community job fairs this month.

Nadia Ahmad Samdin, one of two first-time PAP candidates on the slate, spoke about the cause of "empowering every student to reach their full potential" and her own experiences as a student whose father - then the family's sole breadwinner - lost his job during the Sars crisis.

Incumbents Gan Thiam Poh and Darryl David spoke respectively about estate facilities for the elderly and infrastructure upgrading, including programmes for public housing, neighbourhoods and private estates.

The other new candidate, Ng Ling Ling, said she would draw on her 16 years of experience in the social-services sector to develop more social and healthcare programmes for residents, as Ang Mo Kio becomes a mature town with an ageing population.

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In the RP camp, two candidates spoke. Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who is serving a stay-home notice after returning to Singapore from the UK, did not make an appearance. Charles Yeo, a first-time candidate, and Noraini Yunus charged that the PAP incumbents have been inaccessible or unhelpful to residents, noted various the grievances they have heard on the ground, and promised to provide better support if elected.

The RP had also contested Ang Mo Kio GRC in the last two GEs, but with a different slate of candidates. Its team for Ang Mo Kio GRC this time comprises the team fielded in West Coast GRC in GE2015, along with Mr Yeo.

"You deserve full-time MPs devoted to your interests," he said, adding that residents whom the RP team met on walkabouts complained of not seeing their MP frequently. "The PAP parachutes in many backbenchers with heavy work commitments. Claims of dedication ring hollow unless one is prepared to be a full-time MP."

He promised more frequent Meet-the-People sessions if the RP team is elected. Ms Noraini, also noting reports of ineffective help from MPs, said she looks forward to working with the RP's team of lawyers and economists to care for residents.

Mr Yeo also spoke in Mandarin on behalf of teammate and party chairman Andy Zhu, who is ill. Both in his speech and the speech on behalf of Mr Zhu, he highlighted some concerns that they have heard from residents. These include ageing flats, unemployment, the economic woes of small shopkeepers and stallholders, and the PAP's alleged use of the education system as a tool of social control.

He said that the RP will facilitate small business and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, and that he would personally meet resident stallholders to understand their concerns. On the issue of service and conservancy charges, Mr Yeo, a practising lawyer, said he would "carefully examine the wastefulness of projects proposed by the PAP".

Introduced specially for this GE, in lieu of physical rallies which are disallowed due to Covid-19 safe-distancing measures, the constituency political broadcasts began on Friday and will continue nightly until Wednesday, in alphabetical order by constituency.

Each candidate for a single-member constituency receives three minutes of airtime; each team for a group representative constituency receives 12 minutes for a four-member GRC or 15 minutes for a five-member GRC, which can be allocated across one or more team members.

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