SINGAPORE: Pritam Singh has become the Workers’ Party’s (WP) secretary-general, succeeding Mr Low Thia Khiang who announced last year that he would not contest the top post in order to give the younger generation of party leaders the chance to take over the party.
Here are 10 facts about Mr Singh to help you get to know more about the man who has taken on this key role in Singapore politics.
1. He is 41 years old and married with a daughter.
2. Mr Singh graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts degree. As an undergraduate, he won the Straits Steamship Prize, which the WP notes on its website is awarded to the top graduating student reading both history and political science. He also has a Master of Arts degree from King’s College in London, which he attended as a Chevening scholar. Chevening is the British government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders.
3. Mr Singh holds a Juris Doctor (cum laude) degree from Singapore Management University (SMU). This is a basic law degree for students who have undergraduate degrees in other disciplines. He “survived the second and final year of law school, running for parliamentary elections at the same time", SMU notes on its website.
4. His occupation is listed on the WP website as Member of Parliament, but he is also a locum solicitor at Donaldson & Burkinshaw. A locum solicitor is one who is engaged on a freelance or temporary basis.
5. Mr Singh is an NSman who holds the rank of major. He is a combat engineer.
6. According to his WP biography, Mr Singh was attracted to the party by the leadership of Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low. “In trying circumstances, both have sought to provide credible opposition to the People’s Action Party (PAP) in Parliament,” the biography says. He wants to persuade more Singaporeans to “build and strengthen the roots of democracy that earlier opposition stalwarts have courageously fought to create”.
7. Mr Singh is one of the members of WP’s team for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC). The team, consisting of Mr Singh, Mr Low, Ms Lim, Mr Chen Show Mao and Mr Faisal Manap, made political history at the 2011 General Election by becoming the first opposition candidates to win a GRC from the PAP. The PAP team was helmed by heavyweight George Yeo, who was then Minister for Foreign Affairs. The WP team held on to Aljunied at the 2015 General Election, but with a reduced majority.
8. His political philosophy is guided by the notion that Singaporeans must take ownership of their country by participating actively in the processes behind policy-making and nation-building. “A large part of this entails thinking and speaking openly and freely, while continuing to respect the multi-racial and multi-religious pillars of Singapore,” it says on his WP biography. He believes that a “system of checks and balances, transparency and accountability will improve standards of governance in Singapore and strengthen our national fabric”.
9. In an interview with SMU’s student publication Univantage, he says that his personal philosophy is that people have just one stab at life. “Live a full life, an honest life so that on your deathbed, you can tell yourself that you did the best you could, in the circumstances that were presented to you,” he said.
10. In the same interview, he says that he spends whatever little free time he has nurturing “the relationships I have with people that are close to me, my family and friends”.
(Bonus fact: He likes mutton mysore, which he describes as a “culinary vice”.)
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated Mr Pritam Singh's NS rank as captain, based on his biography on the Workers' Party website. This has been corrected.