'The contest has always been there': Iswaran on facing Tan Cheng Bock's team in West Coast

West Coast GRC always had two officeholders minimally since 2011: Iswaran

Rexanne Yap| July 01, 2020, 08:36 AM

The People's Action Party (PAP)'s West Coast and Pioneer candidates spoke to the press and the public on a zoom conference after the nomination results.

They are: Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, Foo Mee Har, Ang Wei Ng, and newcomer Rachel Ong.

They will be contesting against Progress Singapore Party(PSP)'s Tan Cheng Bock, Jeffrey Khoo Poh Tiong, Hazel Poa, Leong Mun Wai and Loganathan Nadarajah.

Pioneer SMC will see a three-cornered fight between PAP's Patrick Tay, PSP's Lim Cher Hong and independent candidate Cheang Peng Wah.

In the press conference, the candidates laid out a slew of plans for the constituency, ranging from estate upgrades, new MRT stations, supporting jobs and advocating for sustainability.

On West Coast's candidate and boundary changes

Notably, both two-time MPs Lee and Ang were shifted from Jurong GRC to contest in West Coast GRC this election. West Coast's previous MP, Lim Hng Kiang and Pioneer's previous MP, Cedric Foo, did not stand for election this year.

Tay was also shifted from West Coast GRC to contest in Pioneer SMC.

The three candidates highlighted that the shift to new estates was not a big one, as they are moving to areas close or adjacent to the previous estates that they had been in charge of.

Although they may not have the same level of rapport with the residents as in their previous ward, Lee said that it is the candidates' responsibility to quickly build trust with their new residents within the next nine days and beyond.

On Contesting against PSP

When asked whether competition from Tan Cheng Bock's PSP prompted the move of another minister Desmond Lee to West Coast and the shuffling of candidates, Iswaran responded by saying that West Coast had always been contested by various political parties - such as the Workers' Party, Reform Party and now the PSP - since he started serving the ward.

"The contests have always been there. We have taken every contest in absolute seriousness because, at the end of the day, we take our voters and residents seriously," he said.

Iswaran mentioned that West Coast GRC always had two officeholders minimally since 2011, whether it had been a 4-member or 5-member GRC team.

He also added that the changes were also part of a renewal process, which is an important process to ensure a healthy parliament.

"I think, one should look at it for what it is, which is basically that we are putting forward a strong team - a team that can deliver on the ground, and a team that can work with the government to take care of the needs of our residents," he said.

Whether a three-way fight in Pioneer will benefit PAP

When Tay was asked if having a three-cornered fight would increase his odds of winning the majority vote, Tay said that his key focus was his plans to serve the residents at Pioneer SMC, rather than the odds of winning.

"Yes, it is a three-cornered fight, there's various theories and various ideas put forward...But the main focus for the PAP is to put the residents at the heart of all the things that we're going to do," said Tay.

Iswaran also added that there is no such thing as an easy contest, and that the party still has to win the voters' trust whether it be a three-cornered or straight fight.

"I don't think it's for us to assess our opponents. Ultimately the voters have to decide who is the best team that can best serve them...We are the best team for them and for their children and their future, and we want to persuade them that they should put their trust in us."

Top image via West Coast GRC video/Facebook