The Workers’ Party (WP) on Friday (26 June) introduced the second batch of candidates it intends to field in the coming general election, which will take place on 10 July.
Shipping lawyer and Party organising secretary Dennis Tan, 48, was the first to be introduced in today’s virtual press conference.
Mr Tan, a non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) in the recently-dissolved term of Parliament, said that throughout his time in the House, he has engaged several issues ranging from public transport to National Service training safety issues to climate change.
Moving forward, he said that in facing a “brave new world” rife with uncertainty, Singapore needs “less groupthink” and more constructive alternative voices in Parliament who will propose and push for solutions on pressing issues such as hiring policies to retirement adequacy.
Such reasons, said Mr Tan, are why a People’s Action Party (PAP) “supermajority is bad for Singapore and Singaporeans”, and why Singaporeans should elect a “constructive” alternative party to represent their voices in Parliament.
Resonating with Party secretary-general Pritam Singh’s views on whether the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) court case may impact WP’s chances of retaining its stronghold group representative constituency (GRC) Aljunied this GE, Mr Tan said that the residents of Aljunied and Hougang “know better than anyone else” in Singapore what WP has done for their constituencies.
He added that he and WP will “continue to persuade” the residents of Hougang single-member constituency (SMC) — where he is poised to contest in GE 2020 — to choose WP, including new residents who have just moved into the SMC.
Mr Tan in a Facebook post earlier today expressed his gratitude to residents of Fengshan SMC who have helped him enter Parliament as an NCMP in GE 2015.
He noted that in the five years he has tried to “ask as many Parliamentary Questions and to speak on many bills, motions, debates”, a “fair bit” of the feedback he received came from Fengshan residents, who had met him in person or communicated with him electronically through WhatsApp and email.
While Mr Tan garnered 42.5 per cent of the votes in Fengshan SMC in 2015 against the People Action Party’s Cheryl Chan, he managed to secure a seat in Parliament as an NCMP, as he was one of the best-performing candidates who did not win in that election.
Women’s rights advocate and social activist Raeesah Khan, 26 and WP’s youngest candidate for GE 2020, was the second candidate to be introduced today. She runs her own social enterprise and founded women’s empowerment organisation Reyna Movement.
Citing her humble roots, Ms Khan learnt that hard work alone is not enough, and this has inspired her to advocate for the rights of the working-class and their families, as well as marginalised people in Singapore such as single mothers, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
Accessible housing and greater protection for workers are among issues close to Ms Khan’s heart.
Ms Khan, a graduate of economics and marketing from Murdoch University, aims to contribute to a Singapore where “every Singaporean has a seat at the table”, in contrast to a Singapore where “only elites get a seat at the table” in policymaking and deciding on the future of the nation.
Responding to a question from ST on whether her father Farid Khan’s attempt to run for the Elected Presidency in 2017 has had a bearing on her entry into politics, Ms Khan said that she considers herself lucky to have “intelligent and successful parents” who have the “same passion for public service”.
Dylan Ng, 45, was a candidate for Marine Parade GRC in GE 2015. He has 20 years’ of experience in banking and finance including business compliance, and has been heavily involved in WP’s grassroots work since eight years ago.
He hopes to see a more balanced Parliament with “diverse” views and where critics or alternative voices are not marginalised.
Economics professor Jamus Lim, 44, worked on policy issues at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, international development at the World Bank, and portfolio management at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority prior to entering academia.
He expressed concern on how children in Singapore today juggle academic life with jam-packed extracurricular activities and tuition schedules, only to be met with a world that their education has not prepared them for.
Prof Lim cited several challenges faced by Singaporeans in today’s world — from young graduates working as private-hire drivers and delivery persons to professionals in their 50s facing retrenchment, to “old aunties and uncles” who have to clean tables to sustain a living due to inadequate CPF savings for retirement.
Consequently, he aims to advocate for the creation of jobs “that Singaporeans actually want”, to “raise innovation capacities of homegrown companies”, and to suggest “alternative sources of income rather than relying so much on raising taxes”.
The drop in international trade, as well as a rising trend in deglobalisation and deceleration among global economies, have been taking place even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thus, Singapore as a trade-dependent nation, should reassess its current economic model and begin tapping on “indigenous” economic and innovative capacity while reducing overreliance on “foreign capital”, said Prof Lim.
WP’s presence in Parliament as an alternative voice, he added, intends to push “the margins of what has not been asked or even imagined by the incumbent”.
Senior Assistant Manager at the NUHS Research Office Ron Tan, 34, previously contested in Nee Soon in GE 2015.
A graduate of law and commerce from the University of Western Australia, he has had nine years of experience in WP’s grassroots efforts and being the legislative assistant to former Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang.
Responding to a question on the most important lesson he had learnt during his experience as a legislative assistant to Mr Low, Mr Tan said that recognising the magnitude of the responsibility of taking care of residents in a constituency has been such.
Mr Low, he said, “will personally follow up” with any issue raised by residents, even if such an issue appeared to be as small as “the light not working” in a particular area of a housing block, for example.
Mr Tan in his introduction also called on young Singaporeans step up to take on more responsibilities and to speak up for their seniors, their cohort, and their children.