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Foo Mee Har’s strength highlights PAP’s weakness

TOC Editorial/

A glimmer of light has emerged from the People Action Party’s (PAP) much flogged “4G” batch of candidates”: Ms Foo Mee Har, the Head of Premier Banking in Standard Chartered.

Ms Foo’s CV shows an impressive array of local and overseas experience at the top rungs of the corporate ladder. She headed the China branch of Standard Chartered’s Consumer Banking in China, and can boast a stint as President and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Thailand.

Unfortunately for the PAP, the rest of the candidates put forward so far pale in comparison.

Homogeneity exposed

Ms Foo has everything that we haven’t seen in the “new” PAP candidates so far: the solid private sector credentials of a person with the guts to make it to the top.

More importantly, Ms Foo comes across as a breath of fresh air just by virtue of her not being the relative of someone famous (Janil Puthucheary, Ong Ye Kung, Desmond Choo, Desmond Lee Ti-Seng) or having come from the Labour movement (Ong Ye Kung, Desmond Choo, Steve Tan).

Mr Steve Tan’s claim to fame is being the head of the NTUC’s “youth wing” at the youthful age of 38. Mr Desmond Lee, a career government lawyer, is former Cabinet Minister Lee Yock Suan’s son.

Or maybe the PAP this time has set the bar very low. The two batches that have been introduced so far have displayed a remarkable homogeneity, hinting at the dearth of the talent pool the PAP is fishing from. Half the candidates so far have been from the NTUC, and if media reports are accurate, as many as nine NTUC people will be part of the new slate.

At this evening’s press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng asked Singaporeans to consider carefully what the motivations of the opposition were in wanting to win a Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

The question would be more aptly put to those running on the PAP ticket: it is these new and untested characters that have to explain why they deserve to ride on the coattails of heavyweight Ministers into Parliament.

How can we be sure that the new candidates are really in this for public service? This is an especially pertinent question given that the PAP has consistently maintained that it is difficult to attract talent without sky-high pay. Does this apply to the people they’ve recruited?

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