This is the second last of The New Paper 12-part series on single-member constituencies
WHAMPOA Single-Member Constituency (SMC) has not only piqued the interest of several parties, it has some residents excited.
For Madam Tan Lay Choo, 77, it means she can vote again.
The retiree has lived in her Jalan Rajah flat for 30 years.
She said: "Being able to vote gives me a sense of empowerment. I haven't voted for so many years because I was under Tanjong Pagar GRC, which no one contested because of Lee Kuan Yew."
Madam Tan's flat used to be in the Moulmein division of the Tanjong Pagar GRC.
Her Member of Parliament (MP) was Mr Lui Tuck Yew, the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts.
But with the redrawing of the boundaries, her flat now comes under Whampoa SMC.
The constituency now includes the Towner precinct, carved out of Jalan Besar GRC.
The incumbent MP there is Dr Lee Boon Yang.
So with Whampoa SMC made up of constituents under three different MPs, how will the People’s Action Party's (PAP) Heng Chee How engage residents if he's asked to contest there?
Mr Heng, the incumbent MP for Whampoa, said: "These two (redrawn) areas are right next to Whampoa... Many residents from both these areas join our programmes and activities and use our facilities and services, and have friends from Whampoa."
He said Mr Lui and Dr Lee have taken good care of the areas, and that he has already met the grassroots leaders of both areas and will be extending his outreach and interaction there too.
The opposition parties are watching this ward with interest.
Like Radin Mas, Whampoa constituency is shaping up for a multi-party fight.
The National Solidarity Party (NSP), the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Socialist Front (SF) have expressed interest in challenging the PAP's hold on Whampoa.
The NSP’s Secretary-General Goh Meng Seng said the opposition parties are still working on resolving "conflicting claims".
The SF's Secretary-General Chia Ti Lik added that they would like to avoid multi-cornered fights unless there are good reasons to do so.
The NSP won't say who it is fielding.
The party's Mr Ken Sun stood in Whampoa against the PAP's Augustine Tan Hui Heng in the 1988 general election and garnered 40.5 per cent of the votes then.
Will he challenge the seat again?
"I am closer to Whampoa than any other constituency in Singapore," Mr Sun said, adding that he has special interest in developing the area.
His parents lived in the area for about 20 years before they died. He also has a younger brother who lives there and whom he visits regularly.
Mr Goh views Whampoa as softer ground because Whampoa, as part of Jalan Besar GRC, was contested in the past decade, resulting in a higher degree of political awareness, he said.
So you've got an opposition candidate who is familiar with the area and an incumbent MP who is inheriting new divisions.
Will that prove to be a challenge for Mr Heng?
NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser doubts so.
He said: "First, there is the party brand. Second, Heng Chee How is not an unknown."
Madam Tan Lay Choo says voting makes her feel empowered. TNP PHOTO: CALVIN WONG
Mr Heng has served in Whampoa as an MP for close to 10 years and is also the NTUC deputy secretary-general.
He's familiar with the issues in the expanded constituency too, said Prof Tan.
Mr Heng described how he is tackling cost of living and health-care cost issues.
Besides national efforts, he said, local initiatives include tie-ups with the Whampoa Market and Hawker association for a meal voucher scheme.
There's also collaboration with the Buddhist Lodge and general practitioners in the constituency to provide affordable health care to residents.
The concerns were raised by 100 residents, polled by The New Paper, of which the majority said cost of living issue is at the top of their concerns.
Said Mr Arthur Teo, 28, who is unemployed and lives in a three-room flat at Whampoa Gardens: "Salaries are not rising, but the cost of living is rising."
Elderly residents are worried about health-care costs while younger residents want more amenities, such as schools for their children.
Retiree Lin Eng Geok, 79, who lives at Whampoa View, said: "More should be done to highlight the problems of the poor elderly, and the costs of healthcare for them should decrease."
One primary school
Mr Cheong Kim Hoe, 34, a civil servant with two children aged two and six, grew up in the Whampoa area.
When he married, he bought a resale flat at Whampoa Gardens so he could be close to his parents, who also live in the area.
He said: "The only problem about Whampoa is that there is only one primary school (Hong Wen School) within the 1km radius."
Fresh graduate Bernice Quay, 24, who lives at Whampoa Drive, is worried about the job market.
"We have to compete not only with our peers, but foreign talent," she said, adding that what a candidate can offer residents is more important than what party the candidate is from.
Residents are likely to hear from the different parties and what the candidates can offer.
On his likely rivals if he is asked to contest in Whampoa SMC, Mr Heng said: "I have trust and confidence in Whampoa residents and voters to consider the merits, credibility and track record of each candidate and party, and to make a choice that would best serve their interests."
We asked 100 Whampoa residents: What is the most important issue you would raise with the candidates when they visit you?
MUNICIPAL ISSUES: 42%
More amenities such as shopping malls, sports complex and schools: 7%
Inconsiderate neighbours: 3%
Lift upgrading: 2%
NATIONAL ISSUES: 58%
Cost of living: 26%
Elderly issues: 12%
Influx of foreigners: 5%
Education costs: 5%
Housing prices: 4%