Howard Lee / Pictures by Han Thon
The Workers’ Party today (23 April 2011) unveiled four candidates that they plan to field in the coming general elections – two are veterans, and the other two are first-time candidates representing the younger population. Their profiles and background are below.
Mr Koh Choong Yong
· Bachelor of Science (Information Systems & Computer Sciences), National University of Singapore
· Currently a principal consultant with ARCWorks, his own venture
· An information technology practitioner, holding former careers with a multi-national corporation (Andersen Consulting, now known as Accenture) as well as a local start-up (Aretae Pte Ltd)
· First voted in Ang Mo Kio GRC in 2006 general elections, before joining WP subsequently
Positions held in WP:
· Current party webmaster
· Elected a Youth Wing Executive Committee member in 2006
· Elected Youth Wing Vice President in 2007
· Appointed by the CEC as Youth Wing President in 2009
37 year-old Koh grew up in Toa Payoh and Bishan. He is a self-professed “man on the street”, never mind that he is effectively bilingual and was able to throw up whole verses from his favourite band, Mayday. His family was generally ambivalent towards elections, but his interest in politics was roused during the 2006 general elections, when he had the chance to vote in Ang Mo Kio GRC. He became more interested in the news coverage to find out more about the parties. He discovered the inaccuracies of PAP’s accusations of the opposition parties’ non-performance – strangely, after he was encouraged by the PAP to check earlier Parliament reports.
Koh believes that there is a significant imbalance in the representation of current opposition parties currently in Parliament due to parliamentary procedures, but also that the opposition voice is out-numbered. His personal aim, if elected, is to speak up about the cost of living. One of his key gripes is the lack of full transparency in the pricing formula for electricity, and he also hopes to push for alternatives in pricing models. He also believes that a strong opposition presence in Parliament to provide an effective check on the government is necessary for the betterment of Singapore. Koh blogs at www.choongyong.com.
Mr Toh Hong Boon
· Bachelor of Science (Life Sciences), National University of Singapore
· Master of Science (Biomedical Sciences Research), King’s College London
· Currently a senior research officer
· Joined WP recently
30 year-old Toh lives in Hougang, and by all counts, has very little political experience to speak of. While he has some experience with school committees, it leaves to be judged if these will translate to office-holding capability.
His personal convictions, however, are strongly aligned with WP, and the way he presents these shows structured thought. His key reasons for standing for elections: aneed for checks and balances on the government, to represent Singaporeans in Parliament, and to improve the quality of life that he felt is currently lagging in terms of infrastructure and work-life balance. His personal goals if he were elected: to refocus the Central Provident Fund (CPF) back to its original objective of providing for retirement, rather than it’s current use as a tool for cutting cost for companies in times of recession.
Mr Mohd Rahizan bin Yaacob
· Certificate in Islamic Studies, Universiti Technologi Malaysia (UTM)
· Certificate in Administration & Organisational Management, Universiti Technologi Malaysia
· Currently a businessman
· Stood as a candidate under the WP banner in Aljunied GRC in the 2006 general elections
Position held in WP:
· Vice-Chairman of WP
53 year-old Rahizan perhaps voiced the most philosophical position among all the candidates at the media conference. He spoke on the WP’s position about the current composition of parliament and the need to effectively represent the voice of the people, but he also spoke of larger issues such as the need to develop diversity, human dignity and tolerance in society through the parliamentary system, effected through policy formulation and implementation.
One of his most poignant points: the perceived role that the opposition plays. He believes there is a need to distinguish between the executive and legislative roles of government, the latter which he indicated was the position that WP hopes to play a stronger part in. His personal goal, if elected, is to help build a parliament that caters to the aspirations of ordinary people, and a government that is less party-centric and more nation-centric.
Dr Poh Lee Guan
· Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), University of Southern Queensland, Australia
· Earlier qualifications from Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore Institute of Management, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia and University of Dubuque, USA
· Currently a senior lecturer with a private education institution
· More than 20 years of experience with both local and international companies, including Olivetti, AT&T and Lucent Technologies, holding positions in IT, technical support, sales, customer service, operations, and training & development
· Election Agent for Mr Chia Shi Teck, and independent candidate, in Chua Chu Kang SMC in 1997
· Stood as a candidate under the WP banner in Nee Soon East SMC in the 2001 and 2006 general elections
Positions held in WP:
· Advisor to Northern Area Committee (NAC)
· Vice-Chairman, Hougang Constituency Committee (HGCC)
· Councillor, Hougang Town Council
49 year-old Dr Poh grew up in Ang Mo Kio and Yishun. He comes across as someone with little airs about his prefix – “I’m better known as Ah Poh”, and “I can understand the frustration of the workers. I am just an average Ah Beng guy.” That could have been borne of his earlier employment struggles in 2001, when he discovered the narrow job market for knowledge management professionals. His key motivation for standing for election is to fulfil his promise to the young of his family and students, to do his best to make Singapore a better home for them when they grow up.
Dr Poh questioned the validity of the People’s Action Party’s track record, asking if the quality of life here has improved since the last election. Some of his key gripes include the disparity in increase between income versus cost of living, work-life balance for workers, and the affordability of HDB prices for the younger generation. His personal aim upon being elected is to express the views of the people in parliament, and help the people secure jobs that are meaningful to their qualifications.
Slideshow of the media conference with pictures by Han Thon: