Members of the People’s Action Party are continuing to conduct walkabouts and community events at Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) after the Worker’s Party won the ward in the 2011 and continues to hold the GRC over 7 years later.
Aljunied GRC was formed in 1988. During the time it was under the control of the PAP, it absorbed several GRCs that the WP might have otherwise won (namely the Eunos and Kaki Bukit wards of the Eunos GRC in 1997, as well as the Punggol East and Punggol South divisions of the Cheng San GRC in 2001).
With PAP high-flyer George Yeo at its helm, the ruling party team won the GRC in the 1988, 1991, 1997, 2001 and 2006 General Elections. The PAP stronghold in the ward was broken and the ruling party MPs, including Yeo and Zainul Abidin, were displaced when the WP team led by Low Thia Khiang won the GRC in the watershed 2011 General Election.
That was the first time an opposition party had ever won a GRC. The WP team continued to hold on to the ward in the 2015 General Election.
After their crushing defeat, the most high-profile members of the PAP team left politics. George Yeo considered running for the presidency in 2011 but was convinced otherwise by Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok who offered him a well-paying job in the private sector.
Zainul Abidin, who suggested that Lee Kuan Yew’s remarks on Malays, Muslims and integration in one of his books may have had some influence over the Malay votes, went on to become Singapore’s non-resident Ambassador to Kuwait and a special envoy of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Middle East.
Besides serving on the boards of other local and international companies, he also serves as chairman of SPH UnionWorks, Director of Mediacorp, Director of Temasek Cares and corporate adviser to Temasek International.
While Yeo, Zainul and the other PAP candidates appear to have moved on from Aljunied GRC, the PAP has been maintaining its presence in the constituency. One of the main members driving the ruling party’s activities in the ward seems to be PAP member Victor Lye Thiam Fatt.
Both Lye’s personal and public Facebook pages are flooded with his activities in Aljunied GRC. His posts suggest that the PAP has been maintaining an active base in the opposition-held ward, organising regular community engagement events and activities.
In one such post, Lye shares photos from a recent walkabout in the area with other PAP members. Lye shared on 2 Dec that the walkabout was intended to “keep in touch with the residents”.
He added: “We continue to walk the ground, stay connected and hope to get the chance to improve the lives of our people.”
Earlier, several netizens poked fun at Lye, opining that he is simply praising himself, after he shared an exchange he had with a young resident at the opposition ward.
Revealing that the resident had asked him how much he was paid for doing community service as he made his rounds in Aljunied GRC, Lye wrote:
“The answer is “not a cent”. I told him we as volunteers even spend our own money doing community work. He was surprised, but appreciated the truth. Seems he was told something different by others. He then asked me when I started volunteering. The answer is “since 1999″ when I wanted to help those who lost jobs in the Asian Financial Crisis.”
Lye then shared that another resident asked him why the PAP Aljunied GRC team did not receive Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats, even though they “lost by the smallest margin”:
“Later, another resident asked if the best losers in the elections are paid for their unelected seats in Parliament. [For background, Singapore has a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme that ensures up to 9 seats for unelected opposition voices alongside the 89-seat Parliament. This will be increased to 12 at the next election. Plus, NCMPs will be given the same voting rights as elected MPs.]
“I answered, “yes”. Then, he laughed, “but actually, you guys in Aljunied GRC lost by the smallest margin (of less than one percent). Yet, opposition losers gets paid and sit in Parliament while you still walk the ground with no pay and no Parliament seat? Better you join opposition! Le siow ah!” (translated as “are you crazy?”)
“I decided to let him have the last laugh while I focused on resolving problems faced by a resident. Another day in Aljunied GRC…”
Asserting that this is just a “wayang” or an act, netizens opined that Lye appears “proud and arrogant” and that he may just be gunning for the high salaries elected politicians are paid here.