Noting that the residents of Aljunied GRC are aware of the situation on the ground and are capable of making their own decisions, People’s Action Party (PAP) Paya Lebar branch chair Alex Yeo said that PAP activists on the ground will just “concentrate and continuing to serve them”.
Speaking at the PAP65 Awards and Convention, the lawyer who has chaired the Paya Lebar PAP branch for two years added, “The most important part of it is that we must convince them that we are here to stay.”
Mr Yeo was responding to queries from reporters about the reaction of residents to the recent Aljunied-Hougang Town Council judgement last month.
In his speech, Mr Yeo also stressed the importance of rebuilding trust on the ground, telling reports later that the process takes “a long, long time”.
Apart from Mr Yeo, three other young PAP members were on stage to share their experience of growing up in Singapore. These were 41-year old polytechnic senior lecturer Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, 47-year old chief executive Rachel Ong, and 36-year old Kawal Pal Singh.
Given that some PAP members who have spoken at the party’s past conventions went on to stand as candidates in elections, these four were asked if they would be fielded as candidates in the upcoming elections. They all said that the decision was not up to them.
One of the members, Dr Wan Rizal, has been seen walking the ground with Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari and Punggol East MP Charles Chong. During his speech, Dr Wan Rizal shared that he was from the Normal (Academic) stream before going on to get a diploma in electronics.
He recounted an incident when he was a physical education teacher modifying a game of handball so as to include a wheelchair-bound student that inspired him to do more as a teacher. He then obtained a degree and a doctorate.
The other member, Mr Kawal Pal Singh is the nephew of former PAP MP Inderjit Singh. He recounted his own educational history of feeling dejected when entering the EM3 and Normal (Technical) streams during his primary and secondary years. Mr Singh went on to study at the Institute of Technical Education or ITE for short. He recalled how his friends used to joked that it stood for “It’s The End”.
The father of two then talked about how his ITE teachers encouraged him to stay hopeful which led him to take classes in legal studies before reading law at the University of Southampton in the UK.
He said, “Some of my fellow students (in university) were from top junior colleges in Singapore. Given my history, I questioned whether I’d be able to do well.”
Mr Singh succeeded in his field, becoming partner Tito Isaac & Co LLP just three years after joining.
He stressed that he never felt disadvantaged by his academic background in his three years serving in Kembangan-Chai Chee, noting that he felt welcomed by the party.
“I was welcomed (by the party) with open arms…It is important to have a diverse group of volunteers to help diverse people,” he said.
Then fourth new face to speech at the convention was Mr Ong, who was following family tradition when she first volunteered with the PAP and is now with the PAP’s Telok Blangah branch. Ms Ong is the chief executive of Rohei, a consultancy firm and has set up an organisation to help at-risk youth called Trybe.
Speaking about Trybe, Ms Ong explained that it runs three entities – a Community Rehabilitation Centre for first-time drug abusers, a youth probation institution called the Singapore Boys’ Hostel, and Trybe Aftercare.
She elaborated, “We work with very marginalised children and the youth. We also work with their parents to help them rehabilitate and become contributing citizens again.”
When asked whether could be replacing former Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang given that she’s been helping out in his ward, Ms Ong merely repeated, “I think that’s a party decision”.