Mr Pritam Singh, 42, was announced as the new Secretary-General for Workers’ Party after holdings its biennal party conference on Sunday afternoon (8 April) to elect a new leader for the first time in 17 years. Ms Sylvia Lim Swee Lin, 53, was also voted as the party Chief.
Workers’ Party (WP)’s Secretary-General and Chairman positions elected unopposed. Mr Low Thia Khiang who had been in charge since 2001, surprised Singaporeans last November by announcing at the party’s that he will be stepping down.
23 party cadres vied for the 12 spots of the Central Executive Committee (CEC). The 23 candidates include the remaining MPs, and a mix of veteran cadres and fresh faces.
There is a change of two members from the previous CEC.
Dr John Yam, 56, a long-time party cadre. He is a member of a faction that supported Mr Chen Show Mao’s leadership challenge to Mr Low in 2016. He was not in the last CEC elected in 2016, though he was in the CEC before that. The other new member is Mr Terence Tan, 46, a member of the WP slate in Marine Parade GRC for GE2015.
Former Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang and fellow Aljunied GRC MP Faisal Manap received the highest number of votes during the party central executive committee (CEC) election on Sunday. According to the list, they both garnered 70 votes, out of more than 100 cast by the cadres present.
Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, 47, is the one who garnered the third-highest votes. Meanwhile, MPs Chen Show Mao and Png Eng Huat, both received 60 votes.
The other members of the new CEC are NCMPs Leon Perera and Daniel Goh, Mr Firuz Khan, Ms Lee Li Lian and Mr Gerald Giam.
Mr Kenneth Foo and Mr Tan Kong Soon, both 41, are no longer in the CEC.
Speaking to the media after he was elected, Mr Singh said that the opposition party will build on the work of his predecessor, Mr Low Thia Khiang, and continue to be “rational, responsible and respectable”, as it seeks to work with all Singaporeans to “take on the form and the shape of a loyal Opposition”.
He said that he has “big shoes to fill” after succeeding Mr Low who has “driven the party forward with a lot of perseverance and dedication”.
“It’s important for the party to build on the foundation that he has laid and to continue forward as a rational, responsible and respectable party,” he said.
Mr Singh stressed that he will be reaching out to party members to get their vision for the party, saying, “The process will be quite consultative.”
Mr Low, who stood next to Mr Singh during the interview, said that the party’s current phase of leadership renewal has been completed, and that the next step is to put in effort to attract younger Singaporeans to join it. “Without new blood, the party will die a natural death,” he added.
Ms Lim said in the interview that it’s a happy state for the 12-member central executive council to be “hotly contested”.