Battle for the West: Will Iswaran's bigger team handle a possible Tan Cheng Bock challenge?

Will Tan Cheng Bock contest a GRC?

Sulaiman Daud| March 13, 09:39 PM

The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) report is in, and there have been changes made to the West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

Three GRCs have been shrunk, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Ang Mo Kio and Bishan-Toa Payoh.

But two GRCs on the extreme end of Singapore have been expanded, East Coast and West Coast.

And West Coast GRC looks like a potential blockbuster contest if Progress Singapore Party (PSP) leader Tan Cheng Bock throws his hat into the ring.

PSP however declined to comment when Mothership asked about the possibility of contesting at West Coast GRC.

West Coast best coast

Let's take a look at how West Coast GRC has expanded.

Here's a look at West Coast GRC during GE2015.

Screen shot from Yudhishthra Nathan via Google Maps.

Green is West Coast GRC, yellow marks Chua Chu Kang GRC, blue denotes Hong Kah North Single-Member Constituency (SMC), and orange represents Pioneer SMC.

Now take a look at a snapshot of the same area according to the recent EBRC report:

Screen shot from EBRC report.

You can see that bits of Hong Kah North and part of Chua Chu Kang have been carved out and given to West Coast GRC.

With these additions, the EBRC stated that West Coast has a total 144,516 voters.

Why Hong Kah North?

The EBRC did not specifically state why part of Hong Kah North was added to West Coast.

But Hong Kah North is something of a stronghold for the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

The incumbent MP, Amy Khor, recorded one of the highest vote shares in the 2015 GE with almost 75 per cent, beating Ravi Philemon of the Singapore People's Party.

In 2011, Khor clocked a handsome win of over 70 per cent in the difficult "new normal" 2011 GE.

Khor is also a Senior Minister of State for two Ministries, Environment & Water Resources and Health.

Khor's popularity in Hong Kah North might be a boon to the West Coast PAP team, as they seek to keep it PAP territory.

And who knows, Khor might be willing to lend a hand by campaigning in areas of her old constituency that will now be part of West Coast.

Yeeting in Yee Chia Hsing

The area of Chua Chu Kang carved out and added to West Coast appears to fall under the area represented by Yee Chia Hsing.

Yee is a first-termer, having been voted into Parliament in the 2015 general election.

But it's not clear who will be the new addition to the West Coast team.

Will Yee move over to West Coast? But the PAP will need a replacement, as Chua Chu Kang remains a four-person GRC.

Assuming Yee joins the West Coast team, it might look something like this:

  • S Iswaran
  • Foo Mee Har
  • Patrick Tay Teck Guan
  • Yee Chia Hsing
  • Lim Hng Kiang (possible retirement?)

The Battle for the West

Of these five MPs, S Iswaran is the most recognised MP nationally.

Following the cabinet reshuffle of 2018, Lim Hng Kiang retired from his Ministerial role at the Ministry for Trade and Industry.

Since then, he has not held a cabinet-level post.

Meanwhile, Iswaran is Minister for Communications and Information, while also serving as Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, and Minister-in-charge of Cybersecurity.

He is also the most experienced MP, having served in the West Coast since 1997.

So it's clear that Iswaran is the "anchor minister" in this line-up, assuming he remains in West Coast for the election.

But the rest of his team are less prominent.

Foo is the third most experienced MP, spending two terms in Tan's old Ayer Rajah ward.

Tay is also a two-term MP, but has spent one term away from West Coast GRC, up north in Nee Soon East.

With the exception of Lim, the others also have not held cabinet-level posts, nor positions at a Ministry.

If it comes down to a hard-fought contest against Tan Cheng Bock and the PSP, Iswaran will have to supply most of the star power in the Battle for the West.

Related story

Top image from S Iswaran and Tan Cheng Bock's Facebook pages.