Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that competition in the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) of Sembawang for the next general election is welcome, so long as the competition is healthy, and it gives residents a choice.
Ong was responding to a question regarding an announcement by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in which the party's chairman Paul Tambyah said that it is seeking to contest Sembawang GRC.
SDP's decision 'not surprising'
Ong spoke at the launch of a resident "flea market" for home-based businesses.
The anchor minister for Sembawang GRC said that the SDP's decision was "not surprising", given that they had contested in the GRC over 10 years ago, in 2011. He added that so long as the competition is healthy and gives residents a choice, this is something that is "positive".
His team will therefore "do its best" in a bid to win the mandate from the GRC's residents in the next general election, Ong said, although he mentioned that it would not be held relatively soon.
The next general election must be held by November 2025, over three years from now.
In the meantime, Ong's team will focus on what they have promised residents — namely, projects to help improve their lives, he added.
Ong: Different parties are "choping" their places to contest
When asked why he was not surprised by the SDP's decision, he replied, "I suppose it's the time when different parties, especially opposition parties, try to 'chope' places around Singapore, where they should contest."
Factors like history and where they have contested before will therefore likely come into play, he said.
In the 2020 general election, his People's Action Party (PAP) team defeated a team from the National Solidarity Party (NSP) with 67.29 per cent of the votes.
On the prospects of a three-cornered fight, Ong said that while he was unsure if such a scenario might happen, his team will continue to focus on their work of improving the lives of residents.
A three-cornered fight might be more exciting for residents
When asked if a three-cornered fight might be more advantageous for the PAP, he said, "I don't know. I think it might be more exciting for the residents. So let's just focus on our work and not worry about how many corners are there, in any shape."
With regard to his status as the only political office holder among the Sembawang MPs, and whether he expected any movements within his team, Ong replied:
"Every GE, every GRC will have movements. I don't a recall a GRC without movements; it is part and parcel of our renewal process. So I think we should continue this process which is very important."
Sembawang's electoral history
Sembawang was a walkover victory for the incumbent PAP in 2001. The SDP contested the GRC in both the 2006 and 2011 general elections.
However, it was the NSP that contested Sembawang in the 2015 and 2020 general elections.
In the most recent election, a PAP team helmed by Ong with Poh Li San, Mariam Jaafar, Lim Wee Kiak and Vikram Nair defeated an NSP team of Ng Chung Hon, Sathin S/O Ravindran, Sebastian Teo, Yadzeth Bin Hairis and Yeo Tiong Boon by 67.29 to 32.71 per cent of the vote.
Mothership has contacted NSP for comment.
Top left photo via Ong Ye Kung/Facebook, right photo via Paul Tambyah/Facebook