Singapore polls: SDP fields chairman Paul Tambyah in Bukit Panjang SMC; faces PAP's Liang Eng Hwa

  • Singapore
  • Tuesday, 30 Jun 2020

SDP chairman Paul Tambyah will face PAP's Liang Eng Hwa in Bukit Panjang SMC.- ST/Shinmin Daily

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): Bukit Panjang SMC will be contested by two political veterans after a last-minute tactical switch by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) saw its chairman, Dr Paul Tambyah fielded to contest the seat.

He will face the People's Action Party's (PAP) Liang Eng Hwa, who was moved from the neighbouring Holland-Bukit Timah GRC to fill in for the departing Dr Teo Ho Pin.

Dr Teo had held the seat for the PAP for the past 14 years, and defeated the SDP's Khung Wai Yeen with a vote share of 68.4 per cent in the 2015 General Election.

Dr Tambyah, a professor of medicine at the National University of Singapore, was widely expected to anchor the SDP's Holland-Bukit Timah GRC before Tuesday but now replaces Khung.

Khung was expected to repeat his challenge for the seat this year before Dr Tambyah's appearance at the Methodist Girls' School Nomination Centre.

An infectious disease expert, Dr Tambyah was recently elected as president of the Massachusetts-based International Society of Infectious Diseases (ISID) and will take on the post in 2022. Prior to that, he will support current ISID president Alison Holmes in running the organisation.

As late as Monday, Khung was seen working the ground in Bangkit Road in Bukit Panjang, after which he had told The Straits Times that he would be an alternative voice to the PAP and would serve as a full-time MP if elected. Dr Tambyah had joined Khung on that walkabout but he was thought to be doing so in a supporting capacity.

Liang had kept his cards close to his chest, but told ST on Monday that he would be ready to serve Bukit Panjang residents, pointing to his "lifelong relationship" with the constituency, which he developed while serving residents in Zhenghua in Bukit Panjang town, as part of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, for the past 14 years.

Liang lives and grew up in the Bukit Panjang area and said his family still frequents the eating places and exercise in the parks there.

"It is with a heavy heart that I'll leave Zhenghua, but I am ready to serve Bukit Panjang, which I call home. My residents in Zhenghua often have familial links with those in Bukit Panjang SMC too, so I am no stranger," he said.

On the issues he has pushed for in Parliament, the 56-year-old said on Monday that he had raised many questions about jobs and "pushed hard for direct government intervention in public transport", citing among his achievements the additional platforms at the Choa Chu Kang LRT station to cut waiting time and the introduction of new bus services.

If elected, he said he will focus on increasing the employability of Singaporeans through training and job-matching, as well as promote sustainable habits, particularly the reduction of food wastage.

"It will be a tough fight and I'll need to win the residents' trust and confidence. I'll never take this for granted and I am going to work very very hard." - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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