Singapore

Goh: Can WP arrogance replace my team?

ESM Goh challenges Workers' Party to dethrone PAP at Marine Parade GRC

Let them try.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, 74, threw down the gauntlet yesterday when he was asked about facing the Workers' Party (WP) in the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

These were among the fighting words at the press conference to announce the GRC's candidates..

Mr Goh said WP had a "certain arrogance about them", and spoke about how they entered the race for the GRC.

"They came and the NSP (National Solidarity Party), out you go.

"Will that same arrogance be able to replace me and my team in Marine Parade? Let them try."

He also pointedly referred to the accounting lapses in the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) run by the WP.

"I tell Marine Parade residents, 'Look at the way they run their town council's finances and look at the way we run ours.'

"You decide - who do you want to manage your town council?"

Mr Goh was just a month ago considering stepping down from politics after 40 years at Marine Parade.

He confirmed his standing "shoulder-to-shoulder" with fellow Marine Parade candidates only on Aug 14.

Yesterday, he levelled some of the strongest words at the opposition so far when he said that they were like nomads who "come and go".

"Nomads do not have an interest in people's welfare - they are looking for plunder," he said.

Marine Parade has come under some scrutiny because in the 2011 elections PAP won with 56.6 per cent, coming up against a relatively unknown and untested NSP team.

This time around, they also have absorbed Joo Chiat.

The division was an SMC in 2011 and PAP won with one of the smallest margins then - Mr Charles Chong pipping WP's Yee Jenn Jong by just 388 votes.

Acknowledging the tight race, Mr Goh said that the Government did not pay sufficient attention and address the emotions of the Joo Chiat residents who live in landed properties.

RESOURCES

"We poured more resources in helping the lower-income group. But these people have paid taxes... So they felt ignored and sent a message: 'Please don't take us for granted'."

Mr Edwin Tong, who is replacing Ms Tin Pei Ling in Marine Parade GRC, said he had been walking the ground for about two weeks, alongside the GRC's heavy hitters, Mr Goh and anchor minister Tan Chuan-Jin.

Mr Tong said he has heard residents' concerns about parking congestion and the improvement of bus services, and believes that his previous experience as Moulmein-Kallang's Town Council chairman will be relevant to providing solutions for these problems.

Political watcher and Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan said town council matters may not affect the residents of Joo Chiat as much.

"Whether a town council runs well or badly will not significantly affect Joo Chiat residents, who instead might be looking at national issues such as checks and balances in Parliament.

"This is where Joo Chiat has an intrinsic value to the opposition," he said.

Mr Goh said yesterday: "Provided we do our necessary policy changes and do good ground work, we will do better in Joo Chiat.

"It was such a thin margin, if we don't do better in Joo Chiat, we're not going to do well in other parts of Marine Parade GRC.

"It's as simple as that."


SPOTLIGHT ON:

MARINE PARADE

2015 GE

Voters: 146,087

PAP: Mr Goh Chok Tong, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Ms Fatimah Lateef, Mr Seah Kian Peng and Mr Edwin Tong

2011 GE

Voters: 154,451

Valid Votes: 141,294

PAP: Mr Goh Chok Tong, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Ms Fatimah Lateef, Mr Seah Kian Peng and Ms Tin Pei Ling

% of votes: 56.6%

NSP: Mr Yeo Tiong Boon, Mr Abdul Salim Harun, Mr Cheo Chai Chen, Mr Ng Chung Hon and Ms Nicole Seah

% of votes: 43.4%

Workers' Party: Nomads? We're active

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong did not mince his words and accused People's Action Party's (PAP's) rivals of appearing only during elections.

"Opposition parties come and go, like nomads. Nomads do not have interest in the people's welfare - they are looking for plunder," said Mr Goh yesterday.

Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim fired back: "Sometimes, the public, maybe the PAP, likes to say the opposition only likes to appear at election time and they compare it to themselves when they are there…

"But you see, in many of these constituencies they are the incumbent, and they are supposed to be there all the time."

LIMITATIONS

What the public does not realise is that there are limitations to what yet-to-be-elected candidates can do, she said to a crowded room of reporters at her party headquarters yesterday.

"For opposition parties, for potential candidates who are not elected, we believe in being active on the ground.

"But you realise that these people also have to earn a living.

"So there has to be some balance somewhere. We try to be as committed as possible but at the same time there will be limitations."

The party also responded to Mr Goh's charge that WP was like a "rooster (which) goes around boasting that its crowing causes the sun to rise".

He referred to WP's claim that its presence in Parliament since 2011 compelled the PAP to change some of its policies.

Said Ms Lim: "We leave it to people to judge if the Government has become more responsive after 2011."

Singapore ElectionsGoh Chok TongPeople's Action PartyPAPMarine Parade GRCWorkers' Party