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In Aljunied, PAP homes in on residents' welfare; WP focuses on its constructive role in Parliament

IN THE constituency political broadcasts for the Aljunied GRC on Friday night, the challengers spoke mostly of the welfare of residents in the constituency, while the incumbents focused on the constructive role they could play in Parliament.

The contrast in approach between the People's Action Party (PAP) and Workers' Party (WP) to win the hearts and minds of voters in the GRC was clearly drawn.

Leon Perera from the incumbent WP's team said: "Workers' Party MPs have spoken up to hold the government to account, from topics like spending on foreign student scholarships to the Keppel corruption scandal.

"We support most Bills in Parliament if they are good for Singapore, though we voice our suggestions to improve them."

Both he and WP's Gerald Giam disagreed with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) can do the job just as well as elected opposition MPs.

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Mr Giam said: "Don't be swayed by this argument," Mr Giam said. "I have been an NCMP before and I know the limitations of the position. Without constituents to serve and a town to manage, it's hard to establish a base."

An NCMP is a member of an opposition political party who, despite having lost the race in the ward he or she stood in, is given a place in the House for having been one of the best-performing losers. The NCMP scheme was introduced in 1984 to ensure a minimum number of opposition members represented in parliament. Mr Giam was NCMP from 2011 to 2015. 

WP's chief Pritam Singh said the party's Aljunied GRC team have parliamentary experience in holding the government accountable. Team members Sylvia Lim, Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap and Mr Singh have been elected MPs since 2011, while Mr Perera and Mr Giam have been NCMPs.

During their air-time, the PAP challengers said they had not abandoned Aljunied voters, even though they lost in the last election.

"Since the 2011 general election, the PAP team (has) continued to walk with you," said Chua Eng Leong. "We have been listening to you, we know the issues, we know how you feel. Aljunied has not been left behind."

He said the PAP team has fought hard for the ward to have a polyclinic, a community hospital and four MRT stations on the upcoming Cross-Island line. Mr Chua said they would raise money to complete the upgrading of the neighbourhood and parks in Aljunied – and make its estates barrier-free.

Both Victor Lye and Chan Hui Yuh in the PAP team, whose vision is "for a caring community", spoke of starting funds in Aljunied to help disadvantaged children and meet the rising cost of essential services.

Alex Yeo added: "Our message is a simple one. We want to do more. We want to do more with you, for you."

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