'I'm not a sacrificial lamb'

'I'm not a sacrificial lamb'
PAP candidate, Cheryl Chan for Fengshan SMC
PHOTO: Berita Harian

For a candidate described by some as a People's Action Party (PAP) sacrificial lamb for the Fengshan SMC seat, Ms Cheryl Chan, 38, (right) didn't talk like one.

She is not your traditional hotshot candidate with a lengthy list of achievements and qualifications.

Her major claim to fame? Ms Chan has been volunteering in Fengshan for about 10 years.

After Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say introduced her, she took to the microphone, cool as cucumber.

She tackled the questions calmly, including the one about her being a sacrificial lamb.

She said: "What's important for us now is for the PAP team that has been on the ground in Fengshan, are we able to serve the residents? Are their interests and welfare being looked after?

"For someone who has this engagement and experience, it's a natural step that I would have taken to lead this team."

Oh, and as a former resident of Fengshan - she lived there for 12 years - she had something to say about that whole orh luak (oyster omelette) remark.

"Orh luak is not my favourite local dish, laksa is. Also, at the Bedok Block 85 food centre, the most famous dish is the bak chor mee," said Ms Chan.

Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim had sparked talk of the party's interest in the ward when she earlier remarked that the taste of Fengshan was delicious while posing with a plate of orh luak.

Mr Lim said Ms Chan was PAP's candidate for Fengshan SMC, replacing former Transport Minister Raymond Lim, who is retiring. He too discounted talk of Ms Chan being a sacrificial lamb.

Mr Lim said Ms Chan is the best person because she has been deeply engaged with Fengshan residents for the past 10 years.

Furthermore, Fengshan had polled "fairly even" with the four other East Coast GRC wards.

Ms Chan, who is single, started volunteering in 2005 after the then-Fengshan resident wrote in to the PAP asking how she could help out.

She intends to champion two causes if elected - help for the elderly and children from less privileged backgrounds.

Singapore Management University Associate Professor Eugene Tan said Ms Chan's profile and experience makes her a perfect fit.

"She has much local knowledge of the ground and the residents know her...Putting in a higher-profile name, but who is unfamiliar with Fengshan, may then actually be a sacrifice."

EAST COAST GROUP REPRESENTATION CONSTITUENCY (FOUR SEATS)

The PAP unveiled its candidates for the ward yesterday.

Although the PAP team beat the WP team in GE 2011, they polled 54.8 per cent of the vote share - a 9 per cent fall from the 2006 GE It was the PAP GRC team with the smallest winning margin of 9.66 per cent. Mr Lim said his East Coast GRC team received a rude wake-up call during GE 2011.

"The last GE result reminded us that while we did good, we needed to show more to our residents that we cared for them," said Mr Lim yesterday at the press conference to announce the East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC candidates.

"We had to change our methods. So we went deeper by engaging more residents to find out their problems and help them."

Mr Lim, 61, introduced his four-member team yesterday. East Coast GRC was a five-member ward until the Fengshan ward was carved out as an SMC after last month's electoral boundaries review.

Mr Lim aside, the PAP team also includes Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan, 53, Minister of State for National Development and Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman, 50, and two-term backbencher Jessica Tan, 49.

PUNGGOL EAST SMC (ONE SEAT)

Meanwhile, the PAP announced veteran MP Charles Chong would be contesting Punggol East SMC, currently held by WP's Lee Li Lian after the 2013 by-election.

Mr Chong, 62, who is Deputy Speaker of Parliament, will be a familiar face to residents as he was an MP in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC from 2001 to 2011.

Between 2003 and 2006, he led a campaign to get Buangkok MRT station opened, and one of his grassroots men got a stern warning for eight cut-outs of white elephants placed outside the station in 2005.The manner of his latest unveiling - done via a press release unlike the usual meet-and-greet with the media - also seemed odd, said Singapore Management University Associate Professor Eugene Tan.

"Maybe they urgently wanted to unveil Mr Chong so that the spotlight would be left on Aljunied GRC," he said.

Political observer Mano Sabnani said Mr Chong "needed no introduction" to residents of his old territory.

He also said it was a sign of intent by the PAP to take back the SMC by fielding six-term Mr Chong. "He's an experienced MP who has much experience working for residents. It's a sign that the PAP doesn't see Punggol East SMC as an opposition stronghold," he said.


This article was first published on August 28, 2015.
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