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    Jul 27, 2015

    Don't see Tanjong Pagar as 'trophy GRC'

    OPPOSITION parties seeking to contest Tanjong Pagar GRC should not do so just because they want to put up a fight, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, one of the Group Representation Constituency's (GRC's) MPs.

    "It's the wrong starting point if people want to come here because they think it is a trophy GRC. That would do injustice to residents," he told reporters after a walkabout at the Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre yesterday.

    Rather, they must serve residents "consistently and genuinely", and not just to make a political statement. He said: "Your hearts must be pure. You must be here because you want to take care of residents and improve their lives."

    "If you're here for the election, that's quite sad. And I think the residents will be able to tell," he added, without naming specific parties.

    Mr Chan was responding to questions on how his GRC would handle opposition presence at the next polls. The GRC remains untested, with the People's Action Party (PAP) enjoying walkovers at every general election since its formation in 1991.

    Two newly formed opposition parties, the Democratic Progressive Party and Singaporeans First, reiterated their interest to contest the GRC after the release of the electoral-boundaries report last Friday.

    The GRC has been strongly associated with the PAP - its founding secretary-general Lee Kuan Yew was a lifelong MP for the area.

    The former prime minister died on March 23, at the age of 91, raising some uncertainty about how the party would do in the GRC without him.

    But incumbents say they are ready for a fight, having worked the ground consistently. "We have never taken our situation for granted, even when MM (Minister Mentor) Lee was around," said Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah.

    "Our mental stance has always been to be prepared... We don't take the work done in the last term for granted. It's all about what you can do for residents going forward."

    Mr Chan, Ms Indranee and the GRC's remaining MPs, Chia Shi-Lu and Lily Neo, were at the walkabout to formally introduce potential colleague Joan Pereira to residents.

    But they were not able to say if Dr Neo, whose Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng ward will be part of the reintroduced Jalan Besar GRC at the next election, would remain on the Tanjong Pagar GRC slate. This decision would be left to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the PAP's secretary-general.

    When asked if she would like to stay on as an MP, Dr Neo, who entered politics in 1997 and is serving her fourth term, said: "I've been happy to serve my residents… The rest I'll leave to the party."

    If she leaves to contest Jalan Besar GRC, this could mean a spot for one more candidate in the five-member Tanjong Pagar GRC.

    With the GRC taking in about 60 per cent of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's Moulmein ward, there is talk that he could return to the GRC where he cut his political teeth.

    He had been part of the Tanjong Pagar GRC slate in the 2006 General Election, before his ward went under the short-lived Moulmein-Kallang GRC in 2011.

    Moulmein-Kallang GRC will be distributed into four neighbouring GRCs at the election.