SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party (WP) formally announced its first batch of prospective candidates for the 2020 General Election on Thursday (Jun 25).
They are advertising associate director Nicole Seah, equity research analyst Louis Chua Kheng Wee, Mr Muhammad Azhar Abdul Latip, who is self-employed, and former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Yee Jenn Jong.
Mr Chua and Mr Muhammad Azhar are new to the elections. Mr Yee was a WP candidate in the last two General Elections and Ms Seah contested under a different party in 2011.
WP chief Pritam Singh, who introduced the candidates along with chairman Sylvia Lim, did not say where the new candidates will be fielded.
“Where they will be fielded will be made known in days to come,” he said. “At every election, we fight hard and seek to persuade Singaporeans to make their vote count and cast it for WP … it will be a tough General Election as I said, but I’m looking forward to it."
Mr Singh announced that WP will contest two Single Member Constituencies (SMC) and four Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) for a total of 21 seats in Parliament. The constituencies are Hougang SMC, Punggol West SMC, Aljunied GRC, East Coast GRC, Marine Parade GRC and Sengkang GRC.
Mr Singh also said that former party chief Low Thia Khiang, former Hougang MP Png Eng Huat and former Aljunied MP Chen Show Mao will not be running in this GE. Instead, Mr Dennis Tan will contest in WP stronghold Hougang, while Mr Leon Perera and Mr Gerald Giam will move to Aljunied.
In the 2015 General Election, WP fielded 28 candidates, including 16 new faces, across five GRCs and five SMCs. It held on to Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC, but lost Punggol East SMC to the People’s Action Party (PAP). Punggol East SMC is now part of Sengkang GRC.
When asked why WP is contesting in fewer seats in this election, Mr Singh said: "I think we have put the best candidates that we can find forward and we want them to represent (Singaporeans) and represent them well.
"If we can find more candidates ... of course we can consider fielding more seats, but I think it's important for us to focus our efforts and ensure that the candidates that we put forward can do well for the Workers' Party."
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LOUIS CHUA KHENG WEE
Mr Louis Chua Kheng Wee, 33, is a a research analyst at Credit Suisse AG, a global investment bank. He said part of his job involves analysing companies and recommending them to investors, which requires an "ability to question business decisions" and to make an "objective call on whether all stakeholders have been taken care of".
“I strongly believe that a monopoly government is never a good thing … Even as COVID-19 is seen as the crisis of a generation, there will undoubtedly be more challenges ahead of us. To build a more resilient society, we need to recognise that dissenting views should not only be accepted, but should actually be encouraged,” he said.
“This will ensure that we come up with the best ideas to take Singapore forward. I believe change has to start somewhere, and for me, it starts with Parliament.”
The potential candidate also said that as a chartered accountant, he will be "very comfortable " with the financial aspects of managing a town council.
Mr Chua is married and is the father of a nine-month-old boy.
MUHAMMAD AZHAR ABDUL LATIP
Mr Muhammad Azhar Abdul Latip, 33, who is a Grab driver and runs a small business, said that he wants to be the voice for the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Singapore.
A political science graduate, Mr Muhammad Azhar worked in the marine insurance industry until an accident in 2014 brought his career to a halt.
“A few years after I started work, I was involved in a road traffic accident which nearly took my life. I lost my left leg,” he said.
He said he started off in WP by helping with food distribution and community outreach in Aljunied GRC in the Kaki Bukit division.
"I would like to see a more equitable and fair society where minorities are not discriminated against and where each of us gets a fair shot in life," he said.
He added that when it comes to people with disabilities, Singapore is still far from being an inclusive society.
"That is one thing that I would like to see change in the society ... to make sure that they are being assisted, that those who want to work, are given equal opportunities for employment and to be able to receive the help that they deserve."
Ms Nicole Seah, 33, an associate director at a multinational marketing company, is now married with a two-year-old daughter.
Ms Seah is a former NSP member who shot to prominence in the 2011 General Election, where she was the youngest candidate.
Her NSP team contested Marine Parade GRC but lost with 43.4 per cent of the vote. PAP, led by then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, garnered 56.6 per cent of votes.
Ms Seah began volunteering with WP after the end of the 2015 elections, and has been seen walking the ground in East Coast GRC.
“I was drawn to the ethos of WP, which believes in building a strong and reasonable opposition that contributes to our political landscape in Singapore in a constructive manner. It's a party that does not oppose for the sake of opposing," she said.
Ms Seah said she recognised that her decision to contest in the election could result in "increased scrutiny" for her, at a time when her career is stable and her personal life "in a very good state".
But she believes in the leadership and vision of WP. Her daughter is the other reason for her re-entry into politics.
“I do it for my daughter because she is the next generation of Singaporeans and I want to leave behind a legacy for her where she would feel comfortable regardless of her political inclinations or the kinds of views that she is expressing.”
YEE JENN JONG
WP also introduced Mr Yee, 55, an education entrepreneur who is not new to politics or the party.
Mr Yee led a WP team in Marine Parade GRC in 2015, losing with 35.93 per cent of the vote to the PAP team led by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
And before that in 2011, Mr Yee narrowly lost with 48.98 per cent of the vote to PAP veteran Charles Chong in Joo Chiat SMC and as the second best-performing losing candidate, was an NCMP in the 12th Parliament. Joo Chiat SMC was folded into Marine Parade GRC for the 2015 GE.
Nevertheless, Mr Yee said he has remained active on the ground and initiated community projects in Marine Parade GRC.
"This will be a very difficult campaign, with all these restrictions. This is probably the best chance for the PAP get back 100 per cent dominance, but we are not going to let that happen," he said.
"I'm happy to see all the younger generation coming up in this elections and we will put up a good fight."