Despite anticipation that the People's Action Party (PAP) would send a well-known politician to contest in Workers' Party (WP)-held Aljunied GRC, the party yesterday introduced a relatively new face in politics to replace the person who has stepped down.
The new face is Mr Shamsul Kamar, 43, who has resigned from his position as a head of department in Spectra Secondary School, a specialised school for Normal (Technical) students.
He is serving out his notice until Aug 21 before likely assuming the role of branch chairman in the Kaki Bukit ward, one of five in Aljunied GRC. The branch chairman role is held by the PAP candidate in each ward.
Former PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng made the announcement to reporters yesterday afternoon after a closed-door meeting in Bedok North attended by Mr Shamsul, former branch chairman Kahar Hassan, who was asked to step down last week, and some 70 Kaki Bukit grassroots leaders.
"I told them that there's nothing wrong with Mr Kahar. The change is not because there's a scandal, nothing of that sort," said Mr Lim, who is a special adviser to the grasroots organisations.
"The PAP looks at the whole slate of possible candidates and sees who makes the best fit in different constituencies that yields the best results," he said. "Kahar could possibly be better placed in some other role somewhere else."
Mr Shamsul was active in the Kaki Bukit branch from 2006 to 2011, when Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim was its MP.
Both men moved to Nee Soon GRC in the 2011 General Election.
Asked why the PAP did not field a more well-known candidate, as it looks to have done in Punggol East SMC with veteran MP Charles Chong, Mr Lim said every candidate must be good enough to win without being "carried on the wings of heavyweights".
"In the days when (all the seats) were single-member constituencies, you can't place a heavyweight in every constituency. So every candidate must be good enough to win the elections in that constituency. You don't assume that you're going to be carried on the wings of heavyweights."
He emphasised: "Every candidate that is put on the slate in the GRC (group representation constituency) must be a contributing member of the team and should not just be carried by a heavyweight minister."
The PAP's aim is to field a team in Aljunied that can serve residents well and this "does not necessarily mean we must have a heavyweight person to run the constituency," he said. Acknowledging it is possible that its slate against the WP's incumbents may consist entirely of newcomers, he argued that some of its current candidates there are of high calibre.
Bedok Reservoir-Punggol branch chairman Victor Lye is a former government administrative officer, while Paya Lebar branch chair K. Muralidharan Pillai heads law firm Rajah and Tann's commercial litigation department.
Asked about Serangoon branch chairman Chan Hui Yuh and Eunos branch chairman Chua Eng Leong - both now serving Aljunied GRC - Mr Lim said they are possible candidates who have been working hard on the ground.
The Workers' Party won against the PAP in Aljunied GRC in 2011 with 54.7 per cent of the vote.
This article was first published on August 2, 2015.
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