The Workers’ Party (WP) secretary general, Low Thia Khiang, says his party takes the support of voters seriously and this was one reason why the WP has said it will be contesting Marine Parade GRC in the upcoming elections.
Speaking to reporters at this meet-the-people session in Aljunied GRC on Wednesday night, Mr Low was responding to questions on whether the WP will back out of the contest in Marine Parade to avoid a three-cornered fight with the National Solidarity Party (NSP) and the People’s Action Party (PAP).
The NSP contested the GRC in the last elections in 2011 and has expressed interest in doing so again.
Negotiations between the WP and the NSP have so far yielded no agreements to avoid three-cornered battles in Marine Parade GRC and Macpherson SMC, which the two parties are also interested in. Nonetheless, the NSP said on Tuesday that it was still committed to “opposition unity”, a reference to the bloc’s pledge to avoid multiple-cornered fights as far as possible.
Responding to this, Mr Low said, “There are many things which are not within our control. We have to accept whatever people want to contest. I think it’s the right of every opposition party to contest anywhere in Singapore which they wish.”
He said that he is glad that voters now have more choices but at the same time, this has resulted in higher chances of three-cornered fights which, he said, were “a reality which we will have to see how we can manage.” He added that the WP has tried to avoid three-cornered fights as far as possible.
As he did when the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) report was released on 24 July, Mr Low took pains to explain why the WP felt it was right for it to contest Marine Parade GRC, which is currently held by the PAP team led by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
On 26 July, Mr Low said, “As a matter of principle, The Workers’ Party will contest where we have contested before. In this case, Joo Chiat is being redrawn into Marine Parade. We don’t want to disappoint voters in Joo Chiat. We want to offer them a choice again in this election.”
On Wednesday, he reiterated this position.
“The main push factor for us to go into Marine Parade is because Joo Chiat SMC , which Yee Jenn Jong, the party’s candidate [in 2011], lost [by] 388 votes, [has been] drawn into Marine Parade GRC,” Mr Low said. “That is a factor which we cannot ignore. And are we going to say sorry, Joo Chiat residents, because [it’s] now being drawn into Marine Parade, we back off?’
“We are a serious party, we take support of the voters seriously. We will go in. If this is what they want, yes, we will put up a fight, we will take the challenge.”
Turning to questions of whether he will remain in Aljunied GRC, instead of leaving the constituency to lead a WP team elsewhere in the elections, as he did in 2011 when he left Hougang SMC for Aljunied GRC, Mr Low confirmed that he will remain in Aljunied.
“I will not move,” he said. “I appreciate very much that residents of Aljunied have given us a chance to serve, who have responded to the call to move Singapore towards a First-World Parliament. And I am happy to see the Government today is more responsive and there are many policy u-turns being made for the benefit of the people. And I want to continue to serve residents of Aljunied GRC and I am grateful for their support. I am very happy that their support has resulted in a better and more responsive government today. “
Mr Low, however, declined to reveal if his other Aljunied GRC team members will remain as well and contest the constituency in the elections. He said the party will reveal details of its candidates at a later date.
Party chairman, Sylvia Lim, has said that the party plans to field 28 candidates and to contest in five SMCs, namely Hougang, Punggol East, Fengshan, MacPherson and Sengkang West SMCs; and five GRCs – Aljunied, Marine Parade, East Coast, Jalan Besar and Nee Soon.
The WP is currently incumbent in Hougang SMC, Punggol East SMC and Aljunied GRC.