GE a time to 'strengethen ties between PAP and people'

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong sees the coming election as an occasion for Singaporeans to think about whether they want to strengthen the partnership between the People's Action Party (PAP) and the people.

Mr Wong sees this relationship as a key factor behind Singapore's success in building a nation over the past 50 years, he told reporters at a session to announce the ruling party's line-up for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC at the election.

"It is a partnership that's built on trust, on the people trusting in the PAP leadership, on the PAP upholding its values of acting for and serving the people," said Mr Wong.

"As Singaporeans think about what choice to make for... not just the next five years, but the next five years and beyond, the question is: Do we want to strengthen this special partnership and build an even better Singapore?"

The election is expected to be called soon, and Mr Wong said it is not just about building on this partnership as a nation - but to give the PAP a mandate to do more for residents within their estates too.

"We certainly hope that we will have the support and mandate from Singaporeans," he added at Block 3, Marsiling Road, alongside a block party for residents.

Mr Wong, 42, co-anchors the slate in the new four-MP GRC with Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, 60. Joining them are first-term incumbent MPs Ong Teng Koon, 38, who teared up as he recounted how he had helped a needy family, and Mr Alex Yam, 34.

They will likely be challenged by the Singapore Democratic Party.

Said Mr Wong: "We come in with a track record that has been built up over the years. This GRC may be new, but the areas (it covers) have been under the stewardship of the PAP for many, many years."

As he charted the development of estates in the new GRC - from Marsiling's transformation from rubber plantations and kampungs to Yew Tee and its farming village past - Mr Wong said the changes "mirror the success of Singapore".

His team's plans include building on the area's heritage, improving transport connectivity, and introducing more programmes to help the disadvantaged.

It is also a team that brings together experience and youth to look after young and old residents, he said.

Mr Wong is a first-term MP for West Coast GRC, and Madam Halimah has been a Jurong GRC MP for the past 14 years. Both were deployed to contest the new GRC after electoral boundaries were announced on July 24, and have been walking the ground since then.

Mr Ong's Woodgrove ward and Mr Yam's Yew Tee ward are part of this GRC, which also includes retiring MP Hawazi Daipi's Marsiling ward as well as new housing developments in both Woodlands and Yew Tee housing estates.

If elected, Mr Wong said their first priority would be to form a new town council and set up offices that are convenient to residents.

Madam Halimah said she visited all 456 units in the block on Thursday night, and told residents she heard their aspirations, and that the team will put in place programmes for them.

Asked if her role as Speaker meant she could not speak up for residents in Parliament, she said much of the work of an MP was work on the ground "that includes following up with the relevant ministries and agencies" on issues.

"I will be doing the work to represent them as best as possible and it need not be in the public eye... No ministry has felt that I am less rigorous or vigorous... when I was Speaker over the last two years," she said.

This article was first published on August 22, 2015.
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