Straits Times: WP eyes ‘hot ward’ Aljunied, PAP team gears up

• BY LI XUEYING

WORKERS’ Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim wants to contest again in Aljunied GRC for the next general election (GE).

Although it is her “personal preference”, the final decision will be made by a committee appointed by the party’s council, she told The Straits Times yesterday. And it would depend on the constituency remaining intact on the electoral map.

The five-MP group representation constituency was the hottest battleground in the 2006 election, when Ms Lim led her party’s “A” team to secure 43.9 per cent of the valid votes.

They stood against a People’s Action Party (PAP) team helmed by Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo.

As the top loser, Ms Lim, a law lecturer, has been serving as a Non-Constituency MP in Parliament.

Explaining the reason for her preference, she said: “I’d like to return to Aljunied GRC again because I have invested so much there. It’s very heartwarming when people share their real problems with us… There is a comfort level in going back to Aljunied, which we now know better than before.”

She also said that WP has some support there and residents have “more awareness of its work”.

“Familiarity does help,” she added.

However, Aljunied GRC residents will see a partially different WP team.

Only Ms Lim and vice-chairman Mohammed Rahizan Yaacob are still active in the party. The other three in the 2006 team have left the country or the party.

The trio are: researcher James Gomez, who has quit the party and is now a university lecturer in Melbourne; financial controller Tan Wui-Hua, who is working in the United Arab Emirates; and businessman Goh Meng Seng, who left the party and is now with the National Solidarity Party where he is its secretary-general.

Ms Lim declined to disclose who may replace them but said the slate would be a “balance of strengths”, including those who have been “active and are suitable”.

This is the first time the WP chairman has given an indication of her plans for the coming general election, which is due by February 2012.

She said there are “several” groups working the ground there along division lines.

And while one-third of the 75,000 homes in Aljunied GRC are private property, the WP are focusing on HDB home-dwellers owing to limited resources, she said.

On a broader level, the WP is actively discussing its party manifesto for the next GE. It will be updated to include new issues, such as Singapore’s population and health-care financing, that have emerged over the past four years.

But its broad theme will likely be in the same vein as that in the last GE – “You Have A Choice” – disclosed Ms Lim.

At the same time, the PAP team in Aljunied GRC is gearing up. Its leader, Minister Yeo, told The Straits Times he has told party activists to be ready for an election either at the end of this year, or in the second quarter of next year after the national Budget.

The machinery has been kick-started, said Miss Tan Bee Lan, Mr Yeo’s branch secretary.

Responsibilities have been parcelled out among the five divisions’ branch secretaries, each taking care of intelligence, logistics, publications, rallies and walkabouts, and finance.

Projects promised during the last campaign, such as lift upgrading and gyms, are completed or slated to be done by the end of the year.

Mr Yeo said: “All have been implemented.”

Meanwhile, he has been working on being “accessible” to residents, by making informal visits before his Meet-the-People sessions or via his Facebook page and blog.

Resident Razali Taufiq is looking forward to the prospect of a contest in his GRC. The 24-year-old undergraduate said he would like to hear different perspectives on national policies.

xueying@sph.com.sg

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Posted in 2010 07. Comments Off on Straits Times: WP eyes ‘hot ward’ Aljunied, PAP team gears up
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