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GE2020: Potong Pasir, MacPherson and Mountbatten SMCs set for straight fights

PAP's Sitoh Yih Pin at the Nomination Centre. Mr Sitoh said he has been working in Potong Pasir for 20 years.

Peoples Voice candidate Sivakumaran Chellappa will stand against PAP incumbent Lim Biow Chuan in Mountbatten SMC.

POTONG Pasir SMC will see the two-term incumbent People's Action Party MP Sitoh Yih Pin go head to head with Singapore People's Party (SPP) chairman Jose Raymond.

With 19,740 voters, Potong Pasir SMC is one of the single member constituencies to watch, with the SPP contesting for the first time without the "Chiam" factor.

In a speech after nomination proceedings, Mr Sitoh thanked Potong Pasir residents for their feedback, contributing to a new 5-year plan for the constituency that will be unveiled soon. "I think one asset that we can carry in this election, is our track record over the last 10 years," he said. "I treat every opponent with respect, I don't underestimate anyone," he added.

Speaking to the press, Mr Raymond said: "As you can tell, I'm not Chiam... I have to stand on my own two feet. The people will have to decide on the credibility, as well as the tenacity and the ability of both candidates."

Asked about his chances of winning, he said it would be presumptious of him to talk about winning. "What's more important for me is to recognise Mr Sitoh is a formidable opponent who has been in Potong Pasir for 20 years... and who has the respect of the residents," said Mr Raymond. 

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The party's manifesto for Potong Pasir will be revealed tomorrow, the SPP candidate said, covering what is necessary for the town based on residents' feedback. It will have programmes to support families, the elderly and young people, as well as provide wheelchair support for some residents. This does not imply that the town has not been looked after, Mr Raymond added, but rather, new programmes will focus on how to make it better.

Potong Pasir SMC is the smallest constituency in terms of number of voters, and saw its electoral boundaries changed for the first time in more than three decades. The ward has been enlarged to include parts of the new Bidadari housing estate. Potong Pasir was the stronghold of opposition icon Chiam See Tong for 27 years until 2011, when he left to contest elsewhere. Mr Chiam, 85 retired from politics last October.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the morning at the nomination centre yesterday, Mr Sitoh said he was like a student going into exam, not someone who burned the midnight oil, having worked in Potong Pasir for the past 20 years. 

Mr Raymond, 48, is the chief strategy officer of communications firm SW Strategies, and he joined SPP in October 2017. He was also a former journalist and at one point a PAP member, as well as press secretary to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan when the latter was Environment and Water Resources Minister.

At MacPherson SMC, two-term incumbent PAP MP Tin Pei Ling faces People's Power Party (PPP) secretary-general Goh Meng Seng.

Ms Tin, 36, was first elected to Parliament in 2011 in Marine Parade GRC. In the 2015 election, she won a three-cornered fight for MacPherson garnering 65.6 per cent of the vote. MacPherson, with 28,564 voters, was a single ward which was merged with Marine Parade GRC in 1991, and became an SMC again in the 2015 election.

In her thank-you speech, Ms Tin said: “This election is about your lives, your jobs, your future and about who has the best ability to help you through this difficult time. Please, let me serve you.” She will continue to help lower income families, she said, and continue to push and improve on the programmes for upgrading to enhance the estate.

Mr Goh, 50, has said this will be his last contest in a general election. Speaking yesterday, he noted that Ms Tin has done good work, but the fundamental problem of MacPherson is that it is the oldest estate with an aging population, and the poorest estate. "They say that your HDB flat will forever increase in value. Is this true in MacPherson? The 3-room flat in MacPherson may not have a buyer because it's over 40 years old."

Mountbatten SMC, with 24,672 voters, has PAP fielding its previous MP Lim Biow Chuan, 57, who was earlier rumoured to be retiring this year. Mr Lim will be up against Peoples Voice's Sivakumaran Chellappa, a new PV candidate unveiled yesterday in a surprise move. 

Mr Lim said that he did not know Mr Chellappa and had only met him for the first time today. But he takes his opponent seriously and does not doubt his sincerity to serve. On his part, he will continue to look out for disadvantaged residents, the Mountbatten incumbent said. 

From the opposition corner, private sector educator Mr Chellapa called attention to some "screaming" problems such as excessive population growth, which he said had compromised residents' comfortable living and caused high costs of living.  He pointed out that the economic fruits of the country only go to certain quarters, a situation that must not persist and must be seriously addressed.

Mr Lim, a 3-term MP, became a Member of Parliament in 2006 when the PAP was awarded a walkover for Marine Parade GRC which was uncontested. Mountbatten SMC, formerly a ward of Marine Parade GRC from 1997 till 2011 was carved out to be a SMC again in the 2011 election.

Mr Lim contested and won Mountbatten SMC in the 2011 and the 2015 elections, each time from challenger Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss. Mr Lim won with 71.86 per cent of the votes in 2015, improving on his 58.62 per cent in 2011. 

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