The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) unveiled its first slate of candidates who will be contesting in the upcoming general election (GE).
The first batch of five candidates were introduced on the party’s official Facebook page on Sunday (28 June) and Monday (29 June).
They are businessman Alfred Tan, marketing communications specialist Min Cheong, political scientist Dr James Gomez, entrepreneur Robin Low and business development strategist Ben Pwee.
Mr Tan is a businessman and entrepreneur with years of experience in multiple industries like international banking, corporate finance and business management.
Having been raised in Toa Payoh with three other siblings, Mr Tan started his journey of volunteering since his youth days with various communities.
Watching his mother actively visiting church members in hospitals and homes gave him the inspiration to contribute back to society, and he has since served in various community, nonprofits’ committees and boards.
Mr Tan began volunteering with SDP in 2015 as he resonated with the party’s philosophy and principle of building and contributing to a democratic society.
As such, the businessman believes that he has the capability to contribute meaningfully to nation-building, given his appreciation and experience in the international business arena.
In a video introducing his candidature, Mr Tan highlighted that he believes in democratic society where in Parliament, the views of the citizens are represented, laws are debated and established by the people and for the people, and the government is held accountable for all the decisions it made.
“As a Member of Parliament of your constituency, I will represent your collective desire and values, whether it involves your lives and society, or whether it involves your labour and opportunities in your careers enterprises and ventures,” he said.
He added, “I will work hard to ensure the government is accountable and effective to the people of your constituency”.
As the only child to her parents, Min Cheong grew up in the Holland-Bukit Timah constituency, and started volunteer work in her youth at South East Community Development Council as well as for Road to Rio+20—the youth movement associated with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
Ms Cheong’s father played an important role in stoking her socio-political interests through stories about his work in building up Singapore’s defence sector, observations about the civil service of yesteryear, and discussions about the nation’s growth and development through the decades.
She decided to join SDP due to their balanced and compassionate policies as well as visionary and passionate leadership. Ms Cheong started her SDP journey in 2011 in the policy studies unit and supported the party in both the 2011 and 2015 General Elections.
She holds a Diploma in Mass Communication from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and is an avid practitioner of Krav Maga, training with the local chapter of the International Federation of Krav Maga (IKMF).
Given our low happiness index coupled with high work stress level, Min is focusing on Workforce Wellness—an overarching approach to reforming how we live and work—covering issues ranging from socio-economic sustainability, job creation and innovation, career empowerment, organisational culture, and personal wellbeing.
In her introduction video, Ms Cheong also said that she was a firm believer in open public discourse.
She said: “It’s my hope that we will nurture a real appetite and aptitude for critical thinking and meaningful debate, empathy, as well as an unwavering desire to fight the good fight for people who need support alongside causes worth championing.”
Dr James Gomez is a political scientist with over 25 years of global experience working for international NGOs, intergovernmental organisations, public and private universities, research institutes and think-tanks.
His first exposure to politics came during his student times at NUS due to the culmination of several incidents such as the 1988 uprisings in Myanmar, the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square in China and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Dr Gomez joined the SDP in 2010 and contested as an SDP candidate in the 2011 general election in the then Sembawang GRC.
He has been active in SDP’s policy unit and has contributed to its policy papers and discussion forums.
He holds a PhD in International Relations and Politics from Monash University (Australia), a Master of Arts in Politics and Human Rights from University of Essex, (United Kingdom) and a Bachelor in Social Sciences (Hons) in Political Science from National University of Singapore.
Presently, Dr Gomez is Regional Director of Asia Centre, a think-tank based in Thailand and Malaysia.
In his candidacy video, Dr Gomez said that the PAP government went ahead to hold a GE in the midst of a global pandemic. He added that an opportunity must be taken to “reset Singapore politics”.
Dr Gomez revealed that some of the matters that affect Singaporeans the most are rising cost of living, population density, healthcare and housing affordability, poverty and inequality, as well as a “weak social security and pension system”.
“That’s why I decided to contest this elections, with the SDP to be your voice, and to voice your concerns, and take steps to address these issues,” he expressed.
Robin Low is a serial entrepreneur who started a number of businesses like Greenyarn, Racing Genesis, Digital Media Academy and Super Brands.
He got involved in community work primarily through Relief 2.0, an NGO that he co-founded. Its mission is to promote efficient disaster response and sustainable disaster recovery.
Mr Low also works with various organisations in the UN and engages with Syrian Refugees, Rohingyas, and other communities to enable and empower them to solve problems.
The youngest in two other siblings, Mr Low lives in a Toa Payoh HDB and is an alumnus at St Andrew’s Secondary, Nanyang Junior College and National University of Singapore.
He is focusing on better support for marginalised families through action, engaging, and getting them to think about new ways to increase their income sustainably.
In his candidacy video, Mr Low said he has been part of relief efforts following various natural disasters.
“I worked with various refugees, and my experience has taught me that everyone has ideas and aspirations. I enjoy working with communities on solutions, because I believe that communities hold solutions for the problems we face,” he added.
Ben Pwee is a business development strategist with over 20 years of experience, providing consultancy for various major corporations, NGOs, charities and governments in the Asia-pacific.
He was a senior policy officer in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Defence, and is currently running an Asian regional business consultancy company.
As someone who was raised in an emerging middle-class family in Thomson, Mr Pwee was taught by his parents that everyone is equal and the importance of giving back to the community.
Seeing how the elderly around him sweat and toil their good years in low-income jobs to build up the nation, he learnt to appreciate their hard labour and the need for a government to better support them in later in life. That motivated Ben to enter politics which started in the 2011 General Elections as part of MP Chiam See Tong’s GRC team.
He later led a joint SPP-DPP team to compete in Bishan Toa Payoh GRC in the 2015 General Elections. He joined the Singapore Democratic Party in February 2019 and has been part of the Party’s Communications Team.
In the video introducing SDP candidates for the upcoming GE, Mr Pwee said he believes in serving SMEs, in order to “help them grow and develop their businesses into the world and creating jobs and income for all Singaporeans”.
For the upcoming GE, 11 candidates of SDP will be contesting in the four-member Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) of Holland-Bukit Timah and Marsiling-Yew Yee and the Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) of Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Yuhua.