PAP to unveil candidates over 2 weeks

Declaring that "we are in election season", People's Action Party (PAP) organising secretary Ng Eng Hen said yesterday that the party will unveil its line-up of candidates over the next two weeks - with announcements possibly coming as early as today.

In what is the clearest sign from the ruling party that an early general election is on the cards, he said these announcements will detail the MPs who are retiring as well as the slate of candidates who will contest in each group representation constituency (GRC) and single member constituency.

Going by the announcements to date, it means that every one of the 89 seats is set to be contested at the next election. If they are, come Nomination Day, it will be the first time since independence that all eligible voters get a chance to cast their ballot at a general election.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after meeting residents in areas that have been newly acquired by his Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC following boundary changes, Dr Ng said PAP's announcements on retiring MPs and its confirmed slate of new candidates and incumbents will be made in stages at the constituencies where they will contest.

This is a departure from the party's previous practice of a managed introduction at the PAP headquarters by a senior member of its executive committee.

Dr Ng has said previously that there will be very few surprises when PAP unveils its election candidates after National Day. This is because potential candidates have already been on the ground, some for over two years, and will be familiar to residents.

This change in approach by PAP was intentional as it wanted residents to be comfortable with candidates, and for potential candidates to know residents to serve them well.

Dr Ng may have effectively indicated the incoming slate in five-member Bishan-Toa Payoh when he met reporters accompanied by three new faces: Second Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat - whose last day with the civil service is today; OUE Hospitality Trust chief executive Chong Kee Hiong; and Maybank Singapore's head of forex research Saktiandi Supaat.

Also present at the press conference were fellow GRC MPs Josephine Teo, Hri Kumar Nair and Zainudin Nordin.

Mr Hri Kumar and Mr Zainudin are expected to step down at the next election along with the fifth MP in the GRC - former minister Wong Kan Seng - but both declined to confirm they would do so when asked.

PAP's Bishan-Toa Payoh team is likely to face a combined team made up of representatives from the Singapore People's Party and the Democratic Progressive Party, led by opposition politicians Lina Chiam and Benjamin Pwee respectively.

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