SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party (WP) on Sunday (Jun 28) unveiled its final batch of candidates for the 2020 General Election.
They include first-time candidate Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54, and He Ting Ru, 37, who contested in the 2015 polls.
The other two are former Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) Gerald Giam and Leon Perera who were announced on Thursday as replacements for former party chief Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chen Show Mao in Aljunied GRC. Both Mr Low and Mr Chen will not be contesting in the Jul 10 elections.
READ: GE2020: Workers' Party to contest 4 GRCs, 2 SMCs; Low Thia Khiang, Chen Show Mao and Png Eng Huat to step down
At the party’s online press conference on Friday, party chief Pritam Singh said he will defend his seat in Aljunied, together with party chair Sylvia Lim and vice-chair Faisal Manap.
WP is eyeing 21 seats for the coming elections, namely in Aljunied, East Coast, Marine Parade and Sengkang GRCs, as well as Hougang and Punggol West SMCs.
Apart from Aljunied and Hougang, the party has yet to announce its line-up for the other constituencies. Mr Singh said on Saturday that the party will likely keep its “cards close to its chest until Nomination Day”.
The Workers’ Party has nine newcomers for the coming election, seven fewer than in 2015, when it had 16.
On Sunday, in response to a question on the number of opposition party MPs needed to form a sound parliamentary system, Mr Singh reiterated that the WP continues to work towards a medium-term goal to have at least a third of the elected seats in opposition hands.
“I think this is important because it forces the ruling party to consult widely when it wants to change the … highest law in the land, which is the Constitution.”
But more importantly, he said these individuals should reflect the diversity of Singapore society, which is what the WP hopes to show with its current slate of prospective candidates.
“It’s a medium-term goal; we’ll have to work towards it,” he told reporters.
“We don't want to put people into candidature for the sake of it. We want people who are responsible and are prepared for the challenge of public service and have a heart for the people.”
ABDUL SHARIFF ABOO KASSIM
Mr Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54, said he started volunteering at WP’s Aljunied GRC in 2012, helping Mr Singh at his Meet-the-People (MPS) sessions.
The prospective candidate, who is married with two children, said he previously worked as a security guard, undertaker, dispatch rider, bus driver and taxi driver to put himself through school.
He last worked as a researcher and project coordinator but had to quit the job as the organisation has a “policy of non-partisanship”.
“But that is a small sacrifice because I’m passionate about this,” he said.
Mr Gerald Giam, 42, was part of WP’s East Coast team for the past two elections but will now stand in Aljunied GRC.
He was an NCMP from 2011 to 2015 after his East Coast GRC WP team lost, but did well enough to snag an NCMP post. He was also part of the four-member East Coast WP team in GE2015 which garnered 39.27 per cent of the vote.
If elected, Mr Giam said he would tap more on subject matter experts and “put (his) ears closer to the ground”.
“I’m prepared to reach across the aisle to come up with the best solutions to solve the challenges we face as a nation,” he said. “That’s what constructive politics should be about.”
Asked if he’s ready to fill the shoes of veterans Mr Low and Mr Chen, he said: “Going into Aljunied GRC is an important thing that we need to do as a party and I see myself as doing my part to help advance the .. party as well as the nation."
Mr Giam, married with two children, is co-founder and chief technology officer at a technology start-up.
HE TING RU
Lawyer He Ting Ru will be running under the WP flag for a second time come Jul 10.
The 37-year-old began volunteering with WP after the 2011 General Elections and in 2015, was fielded as part of the opposition party's slate of five candidates for Marine Parade GRC. The WP team garnered 35.9 per cent of votes cast and lost to the People’s Action Party.
Married with two children, she is currently head of legal and communications at a listed multinational company in Singapore.
Explaining why she is standing for elections again, she said: "I want (my children) to be proud of their country that has overcome obstacles by bringing its most vulnerable along with it.
"A country where they can have strong and respectful disagreements with one another, and a society which pursues growth but cares about the impact our actions have on our people, and planet.
"These are my hopes for Singapore and I believe that the Workers’ Party must play a part to bring this about," she said.
Mr Leon Perera, 49, CEO of Spire Research and Consulting, first ran under the WP ticket in 2015. He was also part of the four-member East Coast WP team in GE2015.
Along with team member Associate Professor Daniel Goh and Mr Dennis Tan, he served as a NCMP in the last Parliament.
Mr Perera said he has been working with Ms Lim in Aljunied’s Serangoon division since 2015. He is to stand in the GRC in the coming election after it was announced that Mr Low and Mr Chen will not be defending their seats.
Mr Perera said he has learnt “a great deal” from the experienced WP MPs in Aljunied and Hougang constituencies.
Contesting in elections again to contribute to the balance in politics, he said: “To emphasise that balance is not the enemy of unity and that our unity as a nation … cannot be based on just following one political party."