21 Indian-origin candidates in fray for polls in Singapore

Singapore: Twenty-one Indian-origin Singaporeans are among 181 candidates who have filed their nominations to contest the snap general elections next week in which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's ruling party's 50 years of political dominance will be tested by voters.

Prominent Indian-origin candidates who filed their nominations yesterday for September 11 elections include Law and Foreign Minister K Shanmugam, Minister in the Prime Minister Office S Iswaran and Environment and Water Resources Minster Vivian Balakrishnan, all political heavyweights from the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

Two Sri Lankan-origin candidates -- Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is PAP's top leader, and economist-turned-politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam -- also filed their nominations for the polls.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, on the advice of the Prime Minister, who had until January 2017 to hold an election, dissolved the 12th Parliament on August 25, clearing way for the snap polls.

The PAP, which has ruled for more than 50 years, is widely expected to retain its overwhelming majority in the 89-seat parliament owing to a divided opposition; it holds 80 out of 87 seats. But the party, whose founder and Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, died in March aged 91, is likely to be under pressure as citizens resent an increasing influx of foreigners and a high cost of living.

Singapore maintains a cautious tone on its multi-racial society of Chinese, Malays and Indians as well as others including Eurasians and has a group representation constituency (GRC) system to allow election of minority representation in the parliament.

Eighty-nine parliamentarians will be elected from the 16 GRCs and 13 Single Member Constituencies.

An estimated 2.46 million Singaporeans are expected to vote in the general elections which comes amidst celebration of 50 years of independence. This is the biggest election with all 89 members to be elected since independence from across the prosperous city state.

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