An Aljunied GRC resident came from one end of the ward’s Kaki Bukit division to an appreciation event held at the other end, just to garland veteran Workers’ Party (WP) politician Low Thia Khiang.
Mr Low is Singapore’s longest serving opposition Member of Parliament (MP), with 28 years as parliamentarian and town councillor under his belt. Widely respected across Singapore, Mr Low served as MP for Hougang SMC for twenty years – from 1991 to 2011.
In the 2011 GE, he left his Hougang SMC base after a decade and led a team to contest Aljunied GRC. That year, the WP candidate fielded in Hougang SMC retained Mr Low’s former seat and Mr Low’s team also won Aljunied GRC. The WP continued to hold on to both Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC in the 2015 GE.
The WP’s electoral victory in 2011 was historical since it marked the first time an opposition party had ever won a GRC, since Singapore attained independence. Under Mr Low’s leadership, the WP managed to beat all the odds and emerged as the victor, ousting then-Foreign Minister and Aljunied incumbent George Yeo from Parliament and the cabinet.
While the ruling party lost Aljunied GRC for the second time in 2015, it has placed non-elected PAP representatives and branch chairmen in the ward. Three of the five branch chairmen faced off against the WP MPs in the 2015 General Election and lost.
Curiously, none of the opposition parties that have been defeated in other wards have had the opportunity to place their representatives and branch chairmen to run grassroots activities in the wards they hope to contest, in between election terms.
On 14 Sept – a mere 10 days after the Government announced the first formal step towards the next General Election – better-known ruling politicians, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Senior Minister of State Amy Khor, accompanied one of the PAP branch chairmen on a walkabout meeting residents at the Kaki Bukit division of Aljunied GRC.
The Kaki Bukit division is overseen by WP MP Muhamad Faisal. WP veteran Mr Low came out to support Mr Muhamad Faisal at a Kaki Bukit community event, weeks after the PAP walked the ground in the division.
Sharing photos of the community appreciation event that took place this weekend, the administrators of the Aljunied GRC Facebook page wrote: “The very young and the young-at-heart in some 3 tier families came by for a relaxing afternoon with MP Low Thia Khiang and MP Faisal Manap. A man came from another end of Kaki Bukit to garland Mr Low…This is the community at Kaki Bukit.”
The very young and the young-at-heart in some 3 tier families came by for a relaxing afternoon with MP Low Thia Khiang…
There is speculation that Mr Low may repeat what he did in 2011, by leaving his Aljunied base to lead a team to contest East Coast GRC.
The WP first contested East Coast GRC in the 2006 General Election, where it received 36.1 per cent of the vote. In the 2011 GE, it won a much better margin of 45.2 per cent of the vote and came closer to beating the incumbent. The WP did not fare as well in the 2015 GE, receiving 39.3 per cent of the vote.
In a recent report, the Straits Times cited unnamed party insiders and said: “There is also talk that Mr Low may take another gamble as he did in 2011 and move to East Coast GRC to lead the team there in the hope of scoring another GRC win. In 2011, he left his stronghold of Hougang to contest Aljunied GRC.”
The Chinese daily published similar speculation and said Mr Low may do what he did in the 2011 GE, by leaving his old ward to contest new ground.