SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party's Member of Parliament Pritam Singh has been elected as the party’s new secretary-general, following WP’s biennial Central Executive Council (CEC) elections on Sunday (Apr 8).
Mr Singh takes over from Mr Low Thia Khiang, following the latter’s announcement in November that he would not contest the election to make way for new blood. Mr Low has held the top post since 2001.
Mr Singh, who was the party’s assistant secretary-general, was elected unopposed, following the meeting held at the party’s headquarters which lasted for about three hours.
During the meeting, the WP also made amendments to its constitution, which has not had major changes since it was drafted in the 1950s.
Party chairman Sylvia Lim was re-elected to her post as unopposed.
A WP member also confirmed that Mr Low would remain in the party's 12-member CEC after garnering the highest vote share.
Those elected in the CEC include all of WP's current MPs and Non-Constituency MPs. Lawyer Terence Tan, who contested in the 2015 general election as part of WP's team that lost to the People's Action Party in Marine Parade GRC, is also a new face in the CEC.
The various positions each party member will take in the CEC will be decided during their next meeting, which is scheduled for May.
“VERY BIG SHOES TO FILL”
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Mr Singh said he had “very big shoes to fill”, pointing out that outgoing secretary-general had “driven the party forward with lots of perseverance and dedication”. “And it’s important for the party to build on the foundation he has laid, and to continue forward as a rational, responsible and respectable party,” he added.
Moving forward as the new party chief, he said the first thing on his agenda is to reach out to the party members once more, to get a sense of their views and wishes for the party. “The CEC will meet quite soon and it’s important for us to also move forward as a team, and the process will be quite consultative,” he said.
“We look forward to working with not just the party and its volunteers, but with all Singaporeans,” he added.
CURRENT PHASE OF LEADERSHIP RENEWAL COMPLETED: LOW
With Mr Singh's election, Mr Low said the party’s current phase of leadership renewal has been completed. “A party without renewal ... a party without new blood will die a natural death,” he said. “I’m pleased that today we have a younger team in place and they are prepared to step forward.”
When asked if he plans to contest the next General Election, Mr Low said that it is too premature to discuss this.
He also stressed that leadership renewal is never complete. “We still need to put in effort to put in younger Singaporeans, so the renewal process can continue, and we don’t dry out at the end of the day.”
Leading up to the election, Mr Singh had been tipped as the likely successor to Mr Low. WP Non-Constituency MPs Dennis Tan and Leon Perera, as well as former NCMP Gerald Giam, had all expressed support for Mr Singh, according to an article in the TODAY newspaper.
Fellow NCMP Daniel Goh had also made a Facebook post in February, backing Mr Singh as the favourite to become the next party chief.
In 2016, WP MP for Aljunied GRC Chen Show Mao had mounted a challenge for the post of secretary-general, which was fended off successfully by Mr Low with a reported 61-45 vote.