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Workers’ Party introduces final batch of candidates

The Workers’ Party’s fifth and final batch of candidates were introduced on Monday (31 Aug). The three candidates are Mr Bernard Chen, 29, a project executive at a funeral services company; Mr Leon Perera, 44, CEO of an international research and consulting agency; and, Ms Frieda Chan, 39, a medical social worker.

In his introduction, Mr Perera, whose parents were primary school teachers, said: “It is important to take citizenship seriously. We are more than just residents, we should not see ourselves as just passive consumers of the state’s services. We are citizens – we can and should take an interest in the political and social system of our country and try to shape it to reflect what we want our country to be.”

Issues that he will champion if voted into Parliament include retirement adequacy issues (“aging actively and with dignity” is an issue close to his heart), and those related to the economy. Mr Perera reiterated that economic development needs to be considered in a more holistic way, in which the focus is not just GDP, but fundamentally, about the quality of life.

Ms Chan joined the Workers’ Party in 2006 and contested in GE 2011 in Moulmein-Kallang GRC, where her team garnered 41.45% of the total valid votes (that GRC will be dropped in the upcoming GE). Currently working in a hospital, Ms Chan assists families with financial difficulties. She also recently gave birth to a son and spoke of gaps in the system with regards to caregiving and the stress it places on those with young children and elderly parents. Ms Chan spoke of a greater need for social and emotional care for caregivers and will like a chance to be a voice in Parliament and contribute to policymaking in these areas.

When introducing the final candidate, Sylvia Lim recounted how when she got to know Mr Chan, he was a polytechnic student; he has since gone on to study at NUS and recently returned from Oxford University. The 29-year-old is the youngest WP candidate to contest this elections, but is one of the longest-serving members (nine years). He has served as legislative assistant to MP Low Thia Khiang and MP Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap, which requires him to be on the ground and listen to the needs of the people, an experience he describes as humbling.

Mr Chan, whose father is a coffeeshop runner and mother is a part-time cleaner, said he has always been interested in politics. He believes public service is something commendable. “By taking this step out today, I am merely doing my part as a Singaporean to serve, to inspire, and to empower my fellow citizens.”

The Workers’ Party will be fielding 28 candidates in the General Elections. On Saturday, the party launched their 48-page manifesto, “Empower Your Future”.