Three senior members of the Workers’ Party (WP) will not be standing as candidates in the upcoming GE, said party secretary-general Pritam Singh.
At the end of a virtual press conference on Thursday (25 June), Mr Singh disclosed that the three elders are former secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, lawyer and Aljunied Member of Parliament (MP) Chen Show Mao, and two-term Hougang MP Png Eng Huat.
Noting that their “collective” decision not to contest in GE 2020 — which was made “some time ago” — is not an indication of their retirement from politics, Mr Singh said that Mr Low, Mr Chen and Mr Png will still be involved in mentoring and training newer members to prepare to take up the mantle of the party’s leadership.
“For the party to grow, new and younger leaders require parliamentary and town council experience. If there is no renewal of Workers’ Party MPs, over time, the Party will not be able to attract new members to join and aspire to serve Singapore and Singaporeans as opposition MPs,” he stressed.
“The absence of new blood”, said Mr Singh, “will set the Party back in its growth as a credible and institutionalised opposition” in the nation.
The Party chief said that Mr Low had also shared with him how “critical” it is for WP “to remain relevant” to all Singaporeans, “be they new citizens, seniors, [the] middle-aged, and younger voters”.
“He was concerned that as the elder generation of the Party ages, even as wisdom and values remain timeless, a Member of Parliament must have his or her pulse on Singapore society,” said Mr Singh.
The prospect of a WP MP being “too detached from new norms and the changing shift of society” will make WP less effective in speaking for Singaporeans in Parliament, he added.
“Chair Sylvia Lim and myself, and all of us in the Workers’ Party will continue to be working and walking together, standing on the shoulders of the values Mr Low and other elder members have built,” said Mr Singh.
Mr Low became the first-ever alternative party leader in Singapore’s history to have won a GRC through his team’s victory in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 election.
Other than its stronghold Aljunied, WP, Mr Singh announced, will be contesting the group representation constituencies (GRCs) of Marine Parade, East Coast and Sengkang.
The party will also field its candidates in the single-member constituencies (SMCs) of Hougang and Punggol West.
Party treasurer Gerald Giam and central executive committee member Leon Perera will be contesting in Aljunied, while organising secretary Dennis Tan will be contesting in Hougang.