Singapore GE: Opposition parties stake claims to constituencies ahead of upcoming election

SINGAPORE – Opposition parties have staked their claims to various constituencies, including at least two of the four newly created single-member constituencies (SMCs), as early jostling over constituencies began this weekend ahead of the upcoming general election.

By Saturday (March 14), just a day after the battle lines for the next election were drawn with the release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee’s report, several opposition parties had made known the constituencies they were looking to field candidates in.

More than one opposition party indicated interest in group representation constituencies (GRCs) like Bishan-Toa Payoh and Pasir-Ris Punggol and SMCs like Marymount and Mountbatten – setting the stage for potential three-cornered fights.

Following a walkabout in Bishan Street 11 on Saturday, Singapore People’s Party (SPP) secretary-general Steve Chia said his party is likely to contest seven seats in the election.

Mr Chia, who took over from opposition stalwart Mr Chiam See Tong last November, told The Straits Times his party is preparing to compete in the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, which has been reduced from a five-member GRC to a four-member one. The SPP has contested twice there.

Mr Chia added that the party plans to field candidates in Potong Pasir, Mountbatten and Marymount, a new SMC carved out from Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

Mr Chiam’s wife, Mrs Lina Chiam, has lost twice in Potong Pasir to Mr Sitoh Yih Pin from the People’s Action Party’s (PAP). As per the EBRC’s report, the newly drawn Potong Pasir SMC will have an extra 5,404 voters as it will take in parts of Marine Parade GRC.

Mountbatten SMC, which remains unchanged, was previously contested by former SPP vice-chairman Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, who left the party last September.

Also indicating interest in Marymount SMC and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC is the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which will be contesting five parliamentary seats.

Its secretary-general, Mr Hamim Aliyas, has said that his party is likely to stay with Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, which it has contested before, and one SMC that will either be Kebun Baru, another new SMC in the election, or Marymount.

People’s Voice party (PV) chief Lim Tean told ST that his new party is eyeing contests in Choa Chu Kang GRC, Jalan Besar GRC, Tanjong Pagar GRC and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, which has been reduced from a mammoth six-member GRC to a five-member one.

The party is also keen on contesting Pioneer SMC and Mountbatten SMC, added Mr Lim, for a total of 20 seats that PV could potentially be trying for in the upcoming election.

On Friday, National Solidarity Party (NSP) secretary-general Spencer Ng told ST the party was originally going on a walkabout in the Tampines GRC this Sunday, but will now have a “strategy meeting” at its headquarters instead. The party has contested the five-member GRC twice.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) announced in August last year that it plans to contest Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, as well as the Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Yuhua single seats in the next general election. That will mean that it would be vying for 11 seats in parliament.

Reform Party (RP) has declared its intention to run in the three constituencies it contested in the last elections – Ang Mo Kio GRC, West Coast GRC and Radin Mas SMC, for 11 seats. Chairman Andy Zhu told ST on Friday that the party wants to “pick up where we left off”.

Meanwhile, Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chairman Desmond Lim told ST that it will be vying for the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, which it has contested in the past three elections.

Mr Lim added that the party might also contest a new SMC or GRC. There were four new SMCs and one new GRC in the boundaries report.

One new seat, Punggol West SMC, was carved out from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

In previous elections, opposition parties met for negotiations to avoid three-cornered fights.

No such meeting has yet been arranged.

The general election must be held by April 2021.

Additional reporting by: Fabian Koh and Aw Cheng Wei

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