The Workers’ Party (WP) on Thursday (25 June) introduced its first batch of candidates for the upcoming General Election, slated to be held on 10 July.
Credit Suisse AG research analyst Louis Chua Kheng Wee, 33, is a first-time GE candidate. A graduate of Singapore Management University, he now specialises in equity markets, through which he has gained the “ability to question business decisions” made by companies, to evaluate their performance “against established benchmarks”, and to make an objective call on whether the interests of all stakeholders are being met.
All of the above are guided by the need for transparency and accountability, particularly given that external stakeholders such as regulators and independent board of directors are involved in the picture of corporate governance, he said.
Guided by such principles, Mr Chua said that such is why he believes that “monopoly in a government is never a good thing”.
In order to bring Singapore forward, even beyond the immediate COVID-19 crisis, Mr Chua said that “dissenting views” must be encouraged “to ensure that we come up with the best ideas”.
The skill of blending international perspectives from multinational companies with those from locals on the ground, said Mr Chua, is something that he believes he could bring to Parliament if elected.
“Through my work, I am constantly in touch with the latest happenings across the global markets arena, so I am constantly aware of the issues that the global economy is facing,” he said, adding that he is also “very in touch with local issues” that Singaporeans are dealing with.
Having an Accountancy degree and being a qualified chartered accountant, he added, will enable him to comfortably work through the financial aspects of managing a town council.
“Beyond all of that, I think it’s really about being able to connect with local Singaporeans and serve them in the best capacity that I can and to be able to represent their voices in Parliament,” said Mr Chua.
Self-employed gig economy worker Muhammad Azhar Bin Abdul Latip, 34, has been heavily involved in WP’s grassroots work such as food distribution and community outreach in the party’s stronghold Aljunied GRC.
A graduate of Political Science from the National University of Singapore, Mr Azhar spent the first few years of his career in the marine insurance industry. A few years later, however, he met with a nearly fatal road traffic accident that resulted in him losing his left leg.
He noted that disabled persons such as himself are often sidelined in the national discourse on inclusivity, and when they are included, disabled persons are often paid “lip service”.
More needs to be done to support disabled persons in Singapore as one of the most vulnerable communities in the nation — and Mr Azhar intends to elevate the voices of the disabled in Parliament, and to do more for them especially in terms of securing employment.
“The upcoming general election is the perfect opportunity for Singaporeans to correct what has gone wrong,” he said.
Nicole Seah, 33, is an associate director at a multinational marketing company who began volunteering with WP after the end of the 2015 GE. She has been seen walking the ground in East Coast GRC.
Touching on why she joined WP after her previous stint in politics with the National Solidarity Party — contesting in Marine Parade GRC in GE 2011 — Ms Seah said that she was drawn to WP’s “ethos” as a rational and “reasonable opposition that contributes to our political landscape in Singapore in a constructive manner”.
“It’s a party that does not oppose for the sake of opposing,” she said.
To be a truly progressive society, said Ms Seah, Singapore politicians need to move towards “debating in the spirit of the argument” and away from “character assassination, astroturfing and gutter politics”.
A key issue she aims to bring to Parliament is the issue of youth employability.
Drawing from her experience as a part of management in a multinational company, Ms Seah said she saw firsthand that certain youths are being hired based on greater life experience or having “more global exposure”.
Such exposure, she said, is “not available to everyone”, and hiring based on such a criterion places many other youths “at a disadvantage when they come out into the workforce”.
Education entrepreneur Yee Jenn Jong, 55, contested as a WP candidate in Marine Parade GRC in the previous GE. He had narrowly lost in Joo Chiat SMC in GE 2011. The constituency was since merged with Marine Parade GRC in GE 2015.
Mr Yee previously served as a non-constituency Member of Parliament in the 12th Parliament.
Responding to a question on his return to politics as a candidate in this year’s GE, Mr Yee quipped: “I don’t think I ever left”, highlighting his discussions on policies with party members who are MPs and documenting his outreach efforts — including community projects he initiated in Marine Parade such as food distribution to the needy during the circuit breaker period — on his blog.
Speaking on the need for a strong and credible alternative in Parliament, Mr Yee said: “In business, we need anti-monopoly laws to prevent companies from taking advantage of consumers and to keep on innovating.”
“The same goes for politics,” he added, stressing that WP aims to be the “rational” alternative to the People’s Action Party, the latter of which he said awaits “a blank cheque” from Singaporeans to govern the nation and to wholly “dominate” Parliament.