Opposition parties keep cards close to chest even as PAP starts formal introductions

Low Thia Khiang, secretary-general of the Workers’ Party.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) will likely stick to its past practice of confirming its line-up on Nomination Day, said its chief Low Thia Khiang, even as the People's Action Party (PAP) began formal candidate introductions.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr Low said that WP candidates are "already on the ground" and will be introduced to the media at press conferences, but the party will not state where the candidates will be fielded until Nomination Day.

He hinted at the composition of his slate, however, telling reporters that WP will be fielding a younger slate of candidates who "will be able to connect more and represent the views and aspirations of the younger generation".

The WP has the largest opposition presence in Parliament with seven elected MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs.

While Mr Low said none of the WP MPs are likely to step down at the next polls, he declined to confirm if his Aljunied GRC team will remain intact for the next election. Mr Low has pledged last week that he would stay and defend Aljunied GRC to thank residents for giving his team a chance.

The WP will be fielding 28 candidates for the next election, in five group representation constituencies - East Coast, Jalan Besar, Aljunied, Marine Parade and Nee Soon - and five single-seat wards - Fengshan, Hougang, MacPherson, Punggol East and Sengkang West.

Similarly, many other opposition leaders said they were in no hurry to reveal their candidates. Of five other parties which have replied to queries from The Straits Times, one said it would only reveal its candidates on Nomination Day, while another said it will wait for the issue of the writ of election, which is a legal document that sets the election process in motion.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Singapore People's Party (SPP) will be fielding a joint team in five-member Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. DPP chief Benjamin Pwee said his party has identified its candidates, and are "waiting for the SPP to decide who their candidates are for the joint team".

He said the two parties are still in discussion, adding: "We hope to be able to firm this up with SPP by end of this week and reveal our joint team by next week."

Meanwhile, Reform Party (RP) secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam said he will call a press conference at an undetermined date to reveal its slate of 11 candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC, West Coast GRC, and Radin Mas SMC.

The People's Power Party (PPP), which will contest in the four-member Chua Chu Kang GRC, is adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Secretary-general Goh Meng Seng said he will first wait for the ruling party to announce its candidates at the GRC, before deciding what approach to take.

The PPP has decided to do its introductions in "quite an informal way", he said. But he added: "Actually we had planned on a coffee shop, but since (the PAP) are already doing it, we may do something slightly different."

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and Singaporeans First Party (SingFirst) could be among the last to unveil their candidates.

SDA chief Desmond Lim, who will be fielding a six-member team to contest Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said the party will wait for Parliament to be dissolved and the writ of election issued before its introductions.

"There's no hurry and we prefer it not to be so soon for strategic reasons," Mr Lim said, adding that because potential candidates are already doing groundwork, "voters already know their faces".

SingFirst, however, will wait until Nomination Day, said its secretary- general Tan Jee Say.

"We have no intention to reveal our slates before then. This is a matter of strategy, to give an element of surprise. You will find out (who our candidates are) at the Nomination Centre," he said.

Mr Tan added the party has identified more than 20 potential candidates, and is in the midst of whittling them down to 10 for the two constituencies it will compete in - Jurong and Tanjong Pagar GRCs.

This article was first published on Aug 12, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.