GE2020: WP considering new town council for Sengkang GRC, residents cheer on new MPs at Sunday walkabout

Workers’ Party Secretary-General Pritam Singh (middle) gives a press confefence with the WP Sengkang GRC team (from left) Jamus Lim, He Ting Ru, Louis Chua and Raeesah Khan on July 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The Workers' Party (WP) is looking into setting up a second town council for Sengkang GRC, instead of merging it with the existing Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), the party said on Sunday (July 12).

"We believe Sengkang has the economies of scale for it to be a standalone town council," said WP chief Pritam Singh at a virtual press conference.

"That's our approach and preference going forward, subject to further meetings with the existing managing agents."

The WP won the new Sengkang GRC at last Friday's polls, garnering 52.13 per cent of the votes against a 47.87 per cent share for the People's Action Party (PAP).

In 2011, the town councils for both Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC were merged following the general election that year, when the WP first wrested Aljunied GRC from the PAP incumbents. When WP subsequently won the Punggol East by-election in 2013, it further expanded the town council to become the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.

But there were teething issues in the 2011 handover which had a lasting impact - a lawsuit by AHTC against its town councillors is now still on appeal after the court found WP MPs liable for damages.

Asked if the party was anticipating teething issues in Sengkang, such as if the current managing agent would pull out, Mr Singh said: "I don't want to prejudge the situation, but what I would and can say is we haven't met the existing managing agents yet, so I think we want to go into discussions in good faith... and we'll take it from there."

The new elected MPs for Sengkang include lawyer He Ting Ru, 37, economics professor Jamus Lim, 44, social enterprise founder Raeesah Khan, 26, and equity research analyst Louis Chua Kheng Wee, 33.

Speaking at the same press conference on Sunday, team leader Ms He thanked residents for having faith in the WP, and gave an update on how the new MPs could be reached, as Meet-The-People sessions cannot be held due to the Covid-19 situation.

"If any residents have any questions or need help, please e-mail us at one of us will get in touch with you about your problems of your questions," she said.

Separately, the WP Sengkang GRC team was spotted on a walkabout at Rivervale Plaza on Sunday morning at about 9.30am.

They were greeted enthusiastically by residents, who cheered for the new MP-elects as they made their way around the mall.

Associate Prof Lim was also seen carrying an iPad around and making notes as he chatted with residents.

When asked about this during the press conference, Prof Lim said he was noting down residents' concerns over town council matters, citing the example of a complaint about mosquitoes at Block 114.

"We were recording down basic issues that residents have had, because we want to be immediately responsive to all these considerations, so as Pritam suggested, that is our first order of priority - to focus on making sure that this transition occurs in as smooth a fashion as possible," said Prof Lim.

The party also said that until the town is gazetted and it takes over, residents should continue to contact the existing town council on municipal matters like infrastructure and cleanliness issues.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.