SINGAPORE – Ahead of Nomination Day on June 30, various political parties have unveiled their candidates who will be fielded in the July 10 general election.
So far, the People’s Action Party has introduced its slate of 27 new candidates. The Workers’ Party has unveiled nine candidates, while the Progress Singapore Party said it will field 24 candidates.
Red Dot United, Singapore’s newest political party, introduced three new faces.
Here are the candidates:
PEOPLE’S ACTION PARTY
DESMOND TAN KOK MING, 50
Former People’s Association head
For Mr Desmond Tan, securing a government scholarship in his teens was the only way he could afford his university education.
But such social mobility among children from low-income families has become “quite challenging” in recent years, he said yesterday. It is a cause the father of three plans to champion if he gets elected.
Mr Tan grew up in a three-room Bukit Ho Swee flat that at one time housed 12 people – his own family of six, his uncle’s family of four, his grandmother and another uncle.
His father was a taxi driver, while his mother took on various jobs to supplement the family’s income. These included working in a factory, as a babysitter, and selling satay and nasi lemak on the streets.
Mr Tan, a former Queenstown Secondary Technical School student, later went to Raffles Junior College. He was awarded the Singapore Armed Forces Merit Scholarship and graduated from the Victoria University of Manchester in 1994 with first class honours in aeronautical engineering.
Mr Tan rose to the rank of brigadier-general before leaving to helm the People’s Association in January 2017. There, he introduced Residents’ Networks and Youth Networks to encourage social mixing.
EDWARD CHIA BING HUI, 36
Co-founder and managing director of Timbre Group
Helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) transform and ride out the Covid-19 crisis is one of Mr Edward Chia’s top priorities if he is elected to Parliament.
His own business, the Timbre Group, runs food and beverage venues, including Timbre+ and Yishun Park Hawker Centre, and has had to grapple with the impact of Covid-19 and deal with other common challenges SMEs deal with – coping with high rentals, insufficient manpower, and staying ahead of digital disruption.
“I go through this on a daily basis,” he said. “I can truly empathise with SMEs and I hope to be an effective voice for SMEs in Parliament.”
Mr Chia, the father of a six-year-old boy, is expected to be fielded in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. He went to National Junior College and studied economics and political science at the National University of Singapore. He started Timbre at 21, when he was an undergraduate.
Said Mr Chia: “We must redouble our efforts to support our SMEs – not just to survive, but to emerge stronger. In essence, stronger SMEs mean better jobs for Singaporeans.”
NADIA AHMAD SAMDIN, 30
Associate director at TSMP Law Corporation
Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin’s life has revolved around giving back to the community since she was 15 years old. She started her volunteer work with the South East Community Development Council, and moved on to focus on causes that help vulnerable women and children.
The lawyer, who is married and has no children, recounted how she once received a call from a child she was mentoring. The girl, whose parents were in prison, needed to go to school for a test. However, there was no money in her ez-link card. The incident prompted Ms Nadia to set up the Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulud Top-up Fund, to make sure such children have enough money for transport.
The youngest among the new faces that will be unveiled by the PAP, Ms Nadia went to Victoria Junior College and read law at the Singapore Management University.
Apart from her community work, she also serves as a panel adviser for the Youth Court, where her role is to advise judges on the appropriate orders to pass in cases involving children and young persons.
The recreational diver has also seen first-hand the havoc wrought by climate change on the natural environment and hopes to champion this cause.
DON WEE BOON HONG, 43
Senior vice-president at UOB
Mr Wee grew up in a rental flat and made the cut to enter junior college after finishing his O levels at Nan Hua High School. However, money was tight, so he decided to enrol in a diploma programme at Ngee Ann Polytechnic so that he could start work early and help his family with the bills.
After completing his national service, Mr Wee joined a local bank as a non-executive staff member, and got an accounting degree after some years of part-time study.
He later qualified as a chartered accountant.
He has been a grassroots leader in West Coast for 16 years, and also speaks Hokkien and Cantonese.
Mr Wee, who has two children, is a member of the Institute of Mental Health’s Visitors’ Board. He said he hopes to help the less privileged, as well as those with mental health problems. He also hopes to help small and medium-sized enterprises.
Said Mr Wee: “I hope that… politics can be an extension of my volunteerism, and a platform for me to raise residents’ concerns and needs to policymakers.”
MOHD FAHMI ALIMAN, 48
Former Islamic Religious Council of Singapore deputy chief executive
Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman is a former army colonel who stepped down as deputy chief executive of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) in March. He helped to form and steer the M³@Bedok initiative, launched last year to help the Malay/Muslim community in Bedok Town.
The father of four joined the National Trades Union Congress’ Administration and Research Unit in April, and has been spotted on the ground in Marine Parade group representation constituency.
Before he was appointed to his post in Muis, he spent 26 years in the Singapore Armed Forces. His military career included a six-month deployment to Blangpidie for the Aceh Monitoring Mission in 2005, where he was the deputy team leader.
His late father was a gas checker, while his late mother was a cleaner. When he was in primary school, he would help her clear rubbish, he said. She later upgraded her skills to become a cook in a factory.
That is why, said Mr Fahmi, the welfare of low-wage workers in essential services is close to his heart.
YIP HON WENG, 43
Former group chief of the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care
Mr Yip received the Public Service Commission Overseas Specialist Award and started his civil service career as a physical education and mathematics teacher.
He later served in the education, manpower and defence ministries. He said he plans to help to improve aged care services in Singapore.
One incident he remembers vividly from when he first started out as a teacher, he said, was when he disciplined a student who repeatedly failed to hand in his homework.
He later found out that the student came from a poor family, and had to work part-time after school. That is why he did not have the time or energy to focus on his school work.
This incident taught him the value of empathy, said Mr Yip, who is married with five children.
“That day, I learnt that it is very important to always ask and seek to understand the situation before we come to any conclusions about how others behave… This is how I will also continue to listen to the concerns of residents.”
HANY SOH HUI BIN, 33
Director at MSC Law Corporation
Ms Soh, who was in the Normal (Academic) stream at Bendemeer Secondary School, later obtained a diploma in law and management from a polytechnic, and worked as a paralegal before saving enough money to pursue a law degree overseas.
She recounted how her secondary school teacher advised her that if she became a lawyer some day, she should serve “the lost, the least and the last”.
This, she said, became her ethos in life and inspired her to get involved in grassroots work. For the last nine years, she has volunteered in Bukit Panjang, helping outgoing Bukit Panjang MP Teo Ho Pin.
Ms Soh, who has a 16-month-old daughter, co-chairs the Law Society’s community legal clinics committee and set up the first community legal clinic in a residents’ committee centre in the area.
She hopes to increase community awareness of legal issues, like the importance of lasting power of attorney, and make legal help more accessible, especially to those who are physically disabled. During the circuit breaker period, she was able to mobilise volunteer lawyers to conduct sessions over the phone or virtually.
DR TAN SEE LENG, 55
Former Parkway Holdings Group chief executive
Dr Tan, who has spent more than 30 years in the medical sector, is the oldest PAP candidate introduced so far. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post on Thursday that he was glad that Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong had found in Dr Tan a successor as branch chairman.
Dr Tan said he had spent two years under Mr Goh’s tutelage and worked with him on a caregiver support network for the elderly that will be launched after the election, but declined to comment on where he will be fielded.
The father of three grew up in a Toa Payoh rental flat and is a family physician by training.
He said the deaths of his parents from cancer in the 2000s had strengthened his resolve to get a master’s in family medicine, followed by a Master of Business Administration.
Currently a corporate adviser to Temasek Holdings and adviser to DBS Bank, he is also an independent director of Surbana Jurong and was the former group chief executive officer and managing director of healthcare group IHH Healthcare Berhad.
TAN KIAT HOW, 43
Former IMDA chief executive
Mr Tan, a public servant for nearly 20 years, was part of the team that set up the Pioneer Generation Office– now known as the Silver Generation Office – and was responsible for mobilising 3,000 volunteers to do outreach to nearly half a million seniors.
He took up the top post at IMDA in 2017. Under his leadership, the organisation took steps to build up Singapore’s connectivity infrastructure, such as the rollout of the country’s fourth telco.
Previously, he was deputy secretary for cyber and technology at the Ministry of Communications and Information, where he worked on Singapore’s national cyber security strategy.
Digitalisation is an issue close to his heart, he said.
“Helping workers, businesses to use technology to create more opportunities and for a better life is making sure that no one is left behind in a digital future.”
NG LING LING, 48
Former managing director of Community Chest
Ms Ng, who spent six years in banking before moving to social and public services, said she has been working on innovating new care models, such as using simple technology to help people with high blood pressure understand the disease and guard against strokes.
“I see the importance of long-term holistic care as our population ages rapidly, to consider both the social and health aspects to the well-being of our elderly,” said Ms Ng, who is married with one child.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, she said she helped bring in tele-health systems for community care facilities like the Singapore Expo.
“We were working Monday to Sunday, there were no boundaries of work days to tackle the problem because it was 24/7,” she said, adding that she mobilised volunteers to help with Bengali and Tamil translations for infected migrant workers.
“It was really all hands on deck…Covid-19 is still with us, and I’ll continue to be part of the fight against the virus.”
ZHULKARNAIN ABDUL RAHIM, 39
Mr Zhulkarnain, a partner at law firm Dentons Rodyk and Davidson, spoke of the need to build on community modes of distribution, such as neighbour networks to support the needy, and to “entrench this idea of humanness” in policy-making.
Over the last decade, the father of three has conducted free legal clinics and done pro bono work as an assigned solicitor with the Legal Aid Bureau. He was previously the chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals.
He was the fifth of six children. His mother was a housewife and his father did odd blue-collar jobs when they were growing up, eventually joining a construction company and working his way up to the rank of supervisor.
“From him, I remember the importance of lifelong learning,” said Mr Zhulkarnain, who would go through his father’s presentation slides with him as his father did not know how to use PowerPoint.
“The Covid-19 circuit breaker period has shown up various digital inequalities amongst our people, such as those who cannot afford digital devices to do home-based learning,” he said.
“But what I feel is that beyond digital connectivity, it is human connectivity that we would have to look at in terms of policymaking and process.”
MS YEO WAN LING, 44
Chief executive of social enterprise Caregiver Asia
Ms Yeo was part of the global operations team at the EDB. She now runs Caregiver Asia, a social enterprise that connects those in need of care with freelance caregivers in Singapore. She said she hopes to create more opportunities for the elderly in Singapore to continue to work or contribute to the community.
Ms Yeo said one of the most meaningful things at EDB was “being able to work on projects that created and brought in very good and meaningful jobs for all Singaporeans”. She added that she started her social enterprise as she saw a gap in the provision of home-care services, in particular long-term care for the elderly.
On why she left the civil service to start her own venture, she said: “My grandmother…was ill for a number of years before she passed on. And it was spending her twilight years together with me that I realised the importance of being able to grow old with grace and dignity.”
Ms Yeo said she hopes to create more opportunities for the elderly to continue to work or contribute to the community, and wants to champion caregiving programmes.
Ms Yeo, who is married, said: “Politics allows me to bring together the type of experiences I have with the civil service, and working in the community… and to be able to influence not just day-to-day operations of helping people, but also to bring it up to a larger platform such that I can (have an impact on) national policies.”
MR ALVIN TAN SHENG HUI, 39
Head of Public Policy and Economics at LinkedIn
Mr Tan has been a grassroots volunteer since 2005, working together with Jalan Besar GRC MP Lily Neo in Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng.
Speaking in Mandarin, he said he faced obstacles in his education journey – he was once held back a grade, and did not do well enough to enter a local university.
Despite the earlier setbacks, he earned a Bachelor of Economics with First Class Honours from Sydney University, and later, a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University. He has worked at the Ministry of Defence, the United Nations and non-profit group Oxfam, as well as in investment banking. He is now in the technology sector – earlier at social media giant Facebook and now at social networking platform LinkedIn.
Mr Tan said he hopes to use his skills and experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors to help Singaporeans become more nimble and prepared for the future of work.
He said he also aims to bridge the digital divide for seniors and other vulnerable groups, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic has hastened the need for all Singaporeans to acquire such digital skills. Work is now being done to help these groups, and more needs to be done, he said.
Said Mr Tan: “By the time Covid-19 is over… if we (still) haven’t become comfortable with technology, I think we might have failed our people.
“And so I will continue to really tirelessly advocate, and go to the ground and help all our students, stallholders… prepare for the future of work that has come much sooner than any of us has expected.”
DR WAN RIZAL WAN ZAKARIAH, 42
Senior lecturer at Republic Polytechnic
Dr Wan Rizal, who is married with four children, started volunteering in the community in 2010. He was chairman of Al-Islah mosque in Punggol, and was also part of Punggol’s Interracial and Religious Confidence Circle.
He was a student in the Normal (Academic) stream before obtaining a polytechnic diploma and enrolling in the National Institute of Education and later Nanyang Technological University, where he obtained his degree in physical education at the age of 31.
He said: “I hope to be the voice in Parliament that upholds social mobility. Because of the non-linear path that I had taken, I strongly believe that education is the key to social mobility. This is how we can allow people who have less, or did less well to move up and prevent our society from being stratified.
“Singapore must continue to be a nation of opportunities for all, not for just the privileged few, or the lucky ones, but for every Singaporean.”
Singapore’s education system is on the right track, he said. He added that he hopes to be part of its further development. For instance, he said he sees the value of early childhood education, and the importance of providing multiple pathways for Singaporeans to continue developing their skills.
He also hopes to advocate for the sandwiched class, as well as those who may face difficulties juggling work and family life.
MR ERIC CHUA SWEE LEONG, 41
Former director of the SGSecure programme
Mr Chua grew up in a three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio. His father was a forklift driver and his mother was a seamstress.
He was awarded the Local Merit Scholarship (Civil Defence) by the Public Service Commission to read communications studies at Nanyang Technological University. He served with the SCDF, eventually becoming commander of the 3rd SCDF Division.
Most recently, he was director of the SGSecure Programme Office in Ministry of Home Affairs.
Mr Chua, whose baby boy is eight days old, has spent 15 years doing community work with youth. He said he finds joy and satisfaction in mentoring young people and seeing them find success in life.
He added that he hopes to continue his work with youth and to hear their concerns on issues such as social mobility and income inequality.
MR RAYMOND LYE HOONG YIP, 54
Managing partner at Union Law LLP
Mr Lye, a father of three, has been volunteering for 25 years.
When introducing himself, he recounted how he and other volunteers helped a low-income resident deal with a problem.
Mr Lye, who chairs the Punggol East Citizens’ Consultative Committee, said the resident’s daughter had obtained a scholarship from an unnamed agency that allowed her to enter university despite her family’s finances.
But the agency later asked the resident to cough up a large sum of money as her daughter’s grades were not good.
Mr Lye said that after several attempts, he and other volunteers managed to get the agency to write off the sum and the family was able to save up enough money to buy their own flat and move out of the rental block.
Despite having volunteered for groups like clan societies and trade associations, Mr Lye said that he finds community work most fulfilling. “Most satisfying for me is community work, where I get to listen to residents in their homes, their void decks and the coffee shops,” said Mr Lye, who has been volunteering in the new Sengkang GRC.
“I have always tried my best to help, as no government policy is foolproof and there are those who may fall through the cracks.”
MS POH LI SAN, 44
Vice-president for Terminal 5 planning at Changi Airport Group
Sembawang is a special place for Ms Poh, a former helicopter pilot with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the first woman to be appointed full-time aide-de-camp to the late President S R Nathan.
She spent a lot time in Sembawang when she was based at Sembawang Air Base for the RSAF.
“Sembawang is really a very special place for me, plenty of fond memories. And now that I have a chance to go back to Sembawang to serve on the ground, I’m really excited to work closely with our volunteers with our residents there,” said Ms Poh, who started volunteering in grassroots activities and Meet-the-People sessions in Sembawang GRC in 2018.
Ms Poh, who is single, started an annual Women Festival for the constituency and also took part in distributing food to rental flat residents.
She is tipped to join the PAP team that will contest Sembawang GRC, which will likely lose Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan as he is expected to retire from politics soon.
MR DERRICK GOH SOON HEE, 51
Managing director and head of group audit at DBS Bank
Before taking up his position at DBS, Mr Goh headed its subsidary POSB, where he said he was exposed to volunteering efforts by community leaders and grassroots.
This inspired the father of three to take up community work.
Mr Goh spent more than 10 years at credit firm American Express, based in London and New York. He intends to use his experience from the international banking sector to help improve the lives of Singaporeans.
“I want to play a part to improve the system, to hone the system. And I know that Singapore is not perfect, but having lived in all these international financial centres, I can say personally that Singapore is the best,” he said.
“And therefore, I want to play a role to help Singapore adapt as the world changes very rapidly, given digitisation and the onset of the impact of new technology.”
Since 2013, Mr Goh has ben volunteering as a district councillor with the South West Community Development Council and also serves on the board of HomeTeamNS.
Mr Goh, who is vice-chairman of the Gambas-Yishun Citizens’ Consultative Committee, has been seen with Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam at community engagements in Nee Soon, where he is expected to be fielded.
MS GAN SIOW HUANG, 46
Former air force brigadier-general
Ms Gan, 46, who is married with three children, is now deputy chief executive officer of the National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute.
She is expected to be fielded in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, where she has been active on the ground.
Ms Gan made history in 2015 when she became the first woman brigadier-general in Singapore. She resigned from her role as Chief of Staff – Air Staff in March.
She said she had served in the military for more than 25 years – “one of the best choices and fulfilling choices that I made for myself”.
The armed forces, she said, is a place “where men and women of different races, religions backgrounds, all come together, serving common goal to protect Singapore”. This desire to serve Singapore remained with her even after leaving the military.
The mission of the labour movement resonates with her, she said.
“I know the importance of bread and butter (issues) and the importance of having a job, to be able to protect one’s lives, and their families”.
Asked about criticism that former military personnel are not qualified to be politicians, Ms Gan said she takes pride in her military experience, which has equipped her with leadership skills.
She added that in her military career, other than operations, she had been involved in long-term planning, capability development and policy work, manpower, intelligence, among others.
“I would say that I have gathered… several building blocks that I think are critical to any good organising entity and I would say the leadership experiences that I gained and also the lessons I learnt in taking care of people will help me to be a good politician.”
She appealed to the public to not rely on stereotypes. “I hope that people will give me a chance – don’t look at me as just another general – look at me for who I am.”
MS RACHEL ONG SIN YEN, 47
Rohei chief executive
Ms Ong, 47, who is single, has been active in West Coast GRC, where she serves as vice-chairman for the Telok Blangah Citizens’ Consultative Committee.
She said that she is energised by two things – seeing every young person succeed in life, and adults flourish in all that they do.
In order to help young people succeed, she said “we first must learn to listen to, to see, to hear, to understand and to care for the needs of the youth”.
She started Trybe, a charity with Institute of Public Character (IPC) status, in 2001.
Trybe runs the Singapore Boys Hostel, Community Rehabilitation Centre for first-time drug abusers as well as Trybe Aftercare. It provides young people with guidance and offers support for their families and communities.
Ms Ong also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from global business school Insead and Tsinghua University.
MR MOHAMED SHARAEL MOHD TAHA, 39
Vice-president for the strategy and project management office at Singapore Aero Engine Services (secondment from Rolls-Royce)
Mr Sharael Taha, who is married with three children, was previously based in Britain and was responsible for global projects across Rolls-Royce’s engine assembly and test facilities in Britain, Scotland, Germany, Canada and Singapore.
He graduated with a Distinction in Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Oxford.
Mr Sharael hopes to help Singaporeans adapt to the new world of work, noting that the Covid-19 pandemic has posed challenges for workers.
“I would like to work with you to develop new skills and share my experience from high-tech industries, so that we can create… good jobs for the future of our families,” he said.
He stressed that such digital transformation cannot take place at the expense of others.
“For the seniors, for the low-wage workers, and for the less able – we have to make sure that they are part of this journey together. We will ensure that we leave no one behind.”
MR ALEX YEO SHENG CHYE, 41
Director at Niru & Co LLC
Mr Yeo, a lawyer, has chaired the party’s Paya Lebar branch in opposition-held Aljunied GRC for more than three years.
He said he would like to help seniors and support less privileged families in Paya Lebar.
Another item on his to-do list is to address the challenges faced by parents of young children, who have to juggle between their work and family needs.
He said he fell in love with his wife, Priya, who is Hindu and South Asian, despite them being different culturally and having different religions “because we share many similar Singaporean values and experiences”.
“We are thankful that Singapore is the home where children can be whoever they wish, and yet have a singular identity – that of being Singaporeans,” said Mr Yeo, who is Catholic. He sees such values demonstrated in the community as well throughout his volunteering experiences.
“I hope to play my small part in contributing to continue to grow our inclusive society that we have worked so hard over so many years.”
Asked about the PAP team’s chances at the upcoming election in wresting Aljunied GRC back from the Workers’ Party, Mr Yeo said that while he is unable to speculate on the outcome, the team has been working hard on the ground for more than nine years to serve residents in the area.
MS MARIAM JAAFAR, 43
Singapore managing director and partner for Boston Consulting Group
Ms Mariam grew up in a one-room rental flat in Toa Payoh.
The daughter of a Malay teacher and a nurse, she said that while she had a happy childhood, there were moments when she knew things were not easy.
She would wake up in the middle of the night to find her father still working hard at the translation jobs he took on the side. Once, a burglar broke in and stole a whole month’s salary that her father had just withdrawn from the ATM.
“Thanks to the sacrifices of my parents, the kindness shown by many and the quality of the Singapore education system, I’ve been able to go on to study at some of the best universities in the world and then work for some of the best companies in the world,” she said.
Ms Mariam, who is Singapore managing director and partner for Boston Consulting Group, has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
The vice-chairman of the Woodlands Community Club management committee is married with no children.
She said she is passionate about early childhood education, as she believes primary school is too late to start pushing for social mobility.
If she were to speak now to a young girl growing up in a rental flat like herself, she said, she would ask her to “go out and be aggressive about what you want. Find your allies and your supporters”.
“Don’t be afraid, don’t limit yourself to thinking you can only take certain kinds of jobs. You can be a senior banker, you can be a law partner. We have it in this country to provide opportunities for everyone.”
MR SHAWN HUANG, 37
Director for enterprise development at Temasek Holdings
Mr Huang spent 19 years with the Republic of Singapore Air Force, where he began as a pilot trainee.
He was subsequently sent to the United States Air Force Academy and graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering with distinction. He was the first non-American top graduate in military performance.
The father of two is now a director for enterprise development at state investment firm Temasek Holdings.
He has spent the last decade volunteering in Taman Jurong constituency, mentoring children from low-income homes and helping former prison inmates restart their lives.
He has also chaired the Community Arts and Culture Club, which holds arts and culture activities for residents.
“Art is the bedrock of civilisation,” he said.
For him, digitalisation is the greatest leveller when it comes to social mobility, and he hopes to push for further growth of e-commerce and improvements to home-based learning.
MS CHAN HUI YUH, 44
Ms Chan assisted the PAP in Aljunied GRC at the 2015 general election, but did not stand as a candidate then because her two children were too young.
Now that they are in primary and secondary school respectively, she decided it is a better time for her to enter politics.
She began grassroots work in Siglap in 2000, later becoming the chairman of the Siglap Citizens’ Consultative Committee.
In 2015, she moved to become an adviser to Aljunied Grassroots Organisations.
The mother of two, who works as a marketing director at Jingslink Marketing, hopes to speak up for low-income families.
“We have women who, because they have to look after their children, cannot go out to work, so we need to have more childcare facilities and negotiate affordable childcare so women can have the peace of mind to go out and earn living,” she said.
MS CARRIE TAN, 37
Founding executive director of charity Daughters of Tomorrow
Ms Tan, the second daughter of a taxi driver-turned-contractor and a housewife, left the private sector in 2012 to set up social enterprise Daughters of Tomorrow, which helps underprivileged women in Singapore sustain their livelihoods.
She previously worked in the advertising industry before setting up her sole proprietorship consultancy, providing headhunting and talent development services in Singapore and Shanghai.
“I think we need innovation for the country beyond the scale of the economy… as well as in areas of technology,” said Ms Tan, who is single and has been walking the ground in Nee Soon GRC.
“I hope to bring my experience and my skills in community building into politics and create a slightly different space where, beyond the efficiency and the task-drivenness of solving problems, we can create a space for people’s feelings to be valued and acknowledged,” she said.
She added that “certain people or groups in society… may feel that the Government may be a little bit high-handed at times”.
“I think it’s very normal when people are required to perform under pressure and to solve problems. I feel that by being in politics at present, I can bring my brand of care and empathy to the way politics is discussed, especially in this age of social media, and also in Parliament.”
MR XIE YAO QUAN, 35
Head of healthcare redesign at Alexandra Hospital
Mr Xie has been helping out with the Covid-19 battle amid the pandemic, as he leads Alexandra Hospital’s operations in a major community care facility and other areas.
Before moving into public healthcare, Mr Xie spent five years in the private sector at an investment company. Before that, he spent six years in the Singapore Armed Forces.
Mr Xie, who is married, wants to keep healthcare accessible, affordable and of quality for Singaporeans, as well as support the lower-income families and vulnerable individuals holistically.
He has been an active volunteer in the community since 2015, introducing several initiatives to support lower-income families in Jurong.
“We need to listen deeply to residents and bring their suggestions together to improve lives and build a better home. There is so much energy and wisdom in the community,” said Mr Xie.
PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY
LEONG MUN WAI, 60
Founder of venture capital firm Timbre Capital
Mr Leong is the Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) assistant secretary-general and will be part of the team led by party chief Tan Cheng Bock contesting in West Coast GRC.
The son of a dried goods hawker, Mr Leong grew up in Chinatown and went to Raffles Institution.
He was awarded the Public Service Commission Overseas Merit scholarship and majored in economics at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, later completing a master’s in management under the London Business School’s Sloan Fellowship programme.
He was a director at Merill Lynch Hong Kong and a managing director at OCBC Securities before he founded his own investment firm.
Married with three adult children, the youngest of whom is a doctor on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Leong said: “I want to do something more for the country so that everybody gets the same opportunity as me.”
JEFFREY KHOO POH TIONG, 51
Chief marketing officer for Asia-Pacific at a multinational insurance firm
Part of the Progress Singapore Party’s five-man West Coast GRC team, Mr Khoo said his childhood ambition was to be a singer.
A National University of Singapore (NUS) graduate and a botanist by training, Mr Khoo held senior positions in the food and agribusiness sector and is honorary treasurer of the NUS Society.
Some of the policy changes he hopes to make, if elected, are: a review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Singapore; a quota for Employment Pass holders; and ensuring there is knowledge transfer to Singaporean workers.
Married with three school-going children, Mr Khoo was already involved in grassroots work before joining the PSP. “What affected me a lot was that at certain Meet-the-People Sessions, I saw people cry in front of me… It really made me think harder about what I need to do.”
LIM CHER HONG, 42
Author and chartered financial consultant
Mr Lim graduated from the Singapore Institute of Management-University of London as the top business graduate in his cohort.
After a career in banking and insurance, he took a pay cut to work as a programme coordinator and trainer at the Silver Generation Office, where he managed volunteers who helped seniors apply for government schemes. “To be honest, joining an opposition party was never my intention,” said Mr Lim.
The father of three young boys, Mr Lim said more support needs to be given to parents with growing children and current schemes were inadequate to improve the total fertility rate.
He proposed more budgetary aid for young families, rent subsidies for couples waiting for their Build-To-Order flats and more family-friendly practices at the workplace.
KALA MANICKAM, 52
A single mother of an 11-year-old girl, Ms Manickam worked in the Singapore Armed Forces for seven years as a platoon commander and was in the first batch of women officers integrated into the tri-service, training alongside men.
She then left for the private sector where she has chalked up 30 years of experience in human resource management and learning development, of which 15 years have been spent as an adult educator.
She has a master’s degree in lifelong learning.
Education is an issue close to her heart and Ms Manickam called for less administrative work for teachers, smaller class sizes and a more balanced education system.
“We have a lot of fantastic initiatives… But the way they are being executed is something we need to look into.”
She is part of PSP’s five-member team that will contest in Nee Soon GRC.
TERENCE SOON, 29
Singapore Airlines pilot
The second-youngest candidate in the Progress Singapore Party’s slate, Mr Soon is in the team contesting in Tanjong Pagar GRC. He said he was content handing out fliers when he joined the party, but becoming a father of a seven-week-old daughter pushed him to take the plunge into electoral politics.
“Many things started to click and as I started walking the ground – I realised that I am indeed called to be here because of what I believe in.”
Before joining Singapore Airlines as a pilot in late 2015, Mr Soon ran an aviation business which he started when he was 23 and was studying business management at RMIT University in Singapore. To develop the venture, he went to the United States on his own to build his own network of business contacts.
“People always say that I’m crazy. I do things normal people won’t think of doing; firstly, starting a business at such a young age, then venturing overseas on my own and now, of course, joining politics,” he said.
ABDUL RAHMAN MOHAMAD, 67
Fire safety engineer
A member of the Progress Singapore Party’s central executive committee, Mr Abdul Rahman was one of the 11 Singaporeans who founded the party along with Dr Tan Cheng Bock last year.
He started his career with the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1975 before becoming an engineer, and has seven children – four daughters and three sons – as well as two grandchildren.
In 2006, he was part of the Singapore Democratic Alliance team that contested in Tampines GRC and got 31.49 per cent of the vote.
After a stint working in Dubai, he returned home.
In the upcoming polls, he will be fielded in Chua Chu Kang GRC.
“During my walkabouts way back in 2006, I could see people were displaced. Now, I come back in 2020, and it is the same kind of situation,” he said. “The important thing is to narrow the income gap to give these people the opportunity to improve their lives.”
MICHAEL CHUA, 55
Runs a private firm in the environmental sector
Mr Chua is the organising secretary of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), and one of its 12 founding members. He has been involved in party activities in Tanjong Pagar GRC.
“I believe that I have no right to urge others to step forward, if I myself am not willing to take the plunge. I must have skin in the game. I must be at the forefront to share how we can do better.”
Mr Chua was a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Merit Scholarship recipient in 1985. He left active service in 2002 as a major and moved to the private sector, but continued doing national service as a deputy brigade commander until 2016.
“These experiences… shaped my thinking on how we can tackle the challenges the country faces, particularly the systemic problems that exist as a result of the structural deficiencies from an ever more rigid bureaucracy.”
NADARAJAH LOGANATHAN, 57
Co-founder of a skills-training firm
The former military officer is expected to be on the party’s A-team in West Coast GRC.
Mr Loganathan served in the SAF for 25 years, retiring in February 2009 as a lieutenant-colonel. He went on to start a skills-training firm.
He said that he will focus on education policies and push for Singaporeans to be placed first in all job opportunities.
Mr Loganathan has been volunteering with the Hindu Endowment Board since 2016, leading a team of volunteers to manage the crowds during Thaipusam.
He was also actively involved in the Indian Activities and Educational Committee in Limbang Community Club from 2015, until he joined the PSP in January last year.
“I’ve settled my family. My three girls are all graduating or going to graduate very soon. And so I will look at how to then help the country,” said Mr Loganathan.
KUMARAN PILLAI, 49
Runs a consultancy to develop start-ups
The former publisher of the website The Independent Singapore confirmed that he will be running in the new single-seat ward of Kebun Baru.
“I guess the cat is out of the bag for Kebun Baru. I’ve been walking the ground there. I’ve been doing my walkabouts at the Mayflower Market and in Sembawang Hills.”
Mr Kumaran left his post at the website in February this year after he entered politics.
He has been active in the start-up scene, running an incubator backed by Spring Singapore to launch about 28 local start-ups.
Mr Kumaran said an excessive focus on the economy has seen many in society left behind by government policies.
He said that after commenting and writing about politics for close to seven years, he was convinced by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, the party’s secretary-general, that it is not enough and he needs to take the fight into Parliament.
WENDY LOW, 43
Ms Low was a partner at Rajah & Tann from 2008 to 2017, and currently leads the intellectual property advisory and dispute practice of Eldan Law LLP.
She has been spotted in party walkabouts in Tanjong Pagar GRC.
She has advocated for women’s issues with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong and Singapore, including in the Association of Women for Action and Research.
Ms Low has also been volunteering with Justice Without Borders, a cross-border NGO providing pro bono legal help to domestic workers in Singapore who have been abused or unfairly treated at work.
She said she has a passion for looking at issues of deep inequality, and wants to change the common mindset here that NGOs are “just trying to be difficult”. Instead, Ms Low said they can drive long-term positive changes for people impacted by certain issues, and help the Government make better policies too.
She also hopes to preserve local art, culture and heritage, and leverage on technology to let women and freelancers gain meaningful home-based employment.
DAMIEN TAY, 51
Customer service manager
Mr Tay has three decades of commercial operations experience in multinational corporations in the electronics, retail and medical industries. He has been spotted in party walkabouts in Nee Soon GRC.
Currently a customer service manager, Mr Tay has three broad areas which he wishes to effect change in.
First, he wants better job opportunities for Singaporeans, in the light of the disproportionate number of foreigners in Singapore’s workforce due to globalisation.
He also wants to bridge the inequality gap for a more equitable and proportionate distribution of wealth.
Mr Tay also wants to focus on addressing the impact of climate change here.
THE WORKERS’ PARTY
DENNIS TAN LIP FONG, 49
Lawyer and founding partner at shipping law firm DennisMathiew
Mr Tan is no stranger to politics. In the 2015 General Election, he lost in Fengshan single-member constituency but was one of the best-performing losing opposition candidates with a respectable 42.5 per cent of the votes.
The shipping lawyer with his own firm became a Non-Constituency MP and has spoken up on various issues, especially those related to transport, and the maritime and air transport industries.
“We need a much more balanced Parliament with constructive elected opposition to deal with important issues affecting Singaporeans such as jobs, fair hiring, cost of living, retirement adequacy and the future economy,” he said yesterday.
Mr Tan will be defending the WP’s stronghold in Hougang SMC, which he said knows better than any other constituency in Singapore how important it is to have an alternative voice in Parliament. The seat has been held by the Workers’ Party since 1991.
“We’re very grateful to Hougang voters all these years for their support for the Workers’ Party. And all I would say in a humble way is that I will do my best to win the mandate of the Hougang voters again,” said Mr Tan, who is married with a four-year-old daughter.
DR JAMUS JEROME LIM CHEE WUI, 44
Associate Professor of Economics at Essec Business School
Even though Dr Lim has spent many years of his life in an academic setting, school was not a breeze.
“But what I went through, really, is nothing compared to the pressure cooker that kids today must endure,” said Dr Lim, one of two new candidates introduced by the Workers’ Party yesterday.
Singapore may have one of the world’s best performing school systems, he said, but there are still graduates who are choosing jobs with little or no future, or are dissatisfied with their career trajectories.
“I believe that we have allowed superficial success in our educational system to blind us to the fact that… our education system is not preparing our children to take on and create good jobs for the future,” said Dr Lim, who is married with an eight-month-old daughter.
“I do not wish to leave a legacy where the next generation feels unprepared to confront the future, even though it has done exactly all that we have asked it to do.”
Such difficult questions, he said, can be resolved only with a healthy, active and honest debate in Parliament.
DYLAN NG FOO ENG, 44
Director in a wealth advisory firm
Mr Ng entered politics in 2015 and was fielded as a Workers’ Party candidate in Marine Parade GRC.
It was the first time since Singapore’s inde-pendence that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) was challenged for every available seat in Parliament.
Looking back on the years when many constituencies went unchallenged, the last thing Mr Ng wants to see is the return of walkover victories for the PAP.
“To me, Nomination Day is more important than Polling Day.
“I think (walkovers) are not healthy for the political landscape in Singapore,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
Mr Ng, a Christian, is married with two children, and has 20 years of experience in the banking and finance sector.
He said he spent the circuit breaker period helping a non-governmental organisation distribute laptops islandwide to households with children who needed them for home-based learning.
He was coy when asked if he would return to Marine Parade to try again this year.
“I will leave it to the party to decide, and you will know in a few days’ time,” he said.
RAEESAH BEGUM FARID KHAN, 26
Founder and chief executive of social enterprise Reyna Movement
Ms Khan will be the Workers’ Party’s youngest candidate in the coming general election.
But she has been politically aware and active for nearly a decade, she said yesterday.
Involved in student politics since she was 17, as well as civil society groups, she said she understands the concerns of young people.
Married with an infant son, Ms Khan is the daughter of former presidential aspirant Farid Khan, with whom she says she shares a love for public service.
“We also always have a lot of discussions about the things that affect our community, so it’s always great to have his listening ear,” she said.
Ms Khan has also made a name for herself as the founder and chief executive of the Reyna Movement, an organisation operating in Singapore and Johor to empower marginalised women and children through upskilling programmes and community engagement.
She said: “I’m very passionate about workers’ rights, and I’m very passionate about people having a decent living wage and being able to live with dignity.”
RON TAN JUN YEN, 35
Senior assistant manager at the National University Health System Research Office
Mr Tan has been active in community events for the past nine years.
He was part of a WP team that went up against the ruling People’s Action Party in Nee Soon GRC in 2015. After they lost, Mr Tan did not let up on his outreach efforts.
Since 2017, he has served as legislative assistant to former WP chief Low Thia Khiang .
Mr Tan, who has a double degree in law and commerce from the University of Western Australia, said he has learnt important lessons about being an MP from Mr Low, including that an MP must serve his residents.
“You’re elected to take on the responsibility to look after them, to manage the estate, to be their voice in Parliament and to assist them with their day-to-day issues.” Even on simple issues like fixing corridor lights, Mr Low would personally follow up to ensure they were resolved, he said.
“The best lesson I learnt from him is that you have to be responsible to your residents,” he said.
LOUIS CHUA KHENG WEE, 33
Equity research analyst with a global investment bank
As an equity research analyst with a global investment bank, Mr Chua advises investors on whether they should put money in a particular company.
His work has taught him the value of transparency, disclosure requirements, and the presence of external parties, such as regulators and an independent board of directors, to ensure proper corporate governance.
“It is with this understanding that I strongly believe that a monopoly in government is never a good thing without an effective opposition in Parliament,” said Mr Chua, one of two new candidates introduced yesterday by the Workers’ Party.
Mr Chua has a degree in accountancy from the Singapore Management University and is a qualified chartered accountant.
Building a more resilient society means recognising that dissenting views should not only be accepted but also encouraged, he said.
“This will ensure that we come up with the best ideas to take Singapore forward,” said Mr Chua, who is married with a nine-month-old son.
He said: “I really care deeply for the future of Singapore that my son will grow up in.”
NICOLE SEAH, 33
Associate director at a multinational marketing group
Ms Seah is a familiar face on the campaign trail, having been the star candidate of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) in the 2011 General Election. She did not run in 2015, but will this time as a candidate for the Workers’ Party.
At a virtual press conference yesterday, the associate director at a multinational marketing group said she recognised that returning to the political scene would mean increased scrutiny.
“To be honest, I’m having a very stable career right now; my personal life is in a very good state,” she said. “But I do it for the party, because I believe in the leadership and I believe in the vision, and I do it for my daughter.”
Ms Seah, who is married with a one-year-old daughter, added: “I want to leave behind a legacy for her where she would feel comfortable regardless of the political inclinations or the kinds of views that she’s expressing.”
Ms Seah, who resigned from the NSP in 2014 and has volunteered with the Workers’ Party since 2015, said she was drawn to the ethos of the party, which believes in “building a strong and reasonable opposition that contributes to our political landscape in Singapore in a constructive manner”.
MUHAMMAD AZHAR ABDUL LATIP, 34
Grab driver and small business owner
Mr Azhar lost his left leg in a road traffic accident in 2014.
And the experience of having a disability highlighted for him the need for a more inclusive society in Singapore – a cause he hopes to champion if elected to Parliament.
“We want to be an inclusive society, but when it comes to the disabled groups, it tends to be… lip service,” said Mr Azhar, who was one of two first-time candidates introduced yesterday by the Workers’ Party.
Mr Azhar, who has volunteered at food distribution and community outreach programmes in Aljunied GRC, holds a political science degree from the National University of Singapore.
He was a marine insurance broker with an international brokerage when the accident occurred.
He is now a Grab driver and small-business owner.
Mr Azhar, who is divorced with a child, said: “That is one thing I would like to change in society… (I want to help) disabled groups to make sure they are being assisted, that those who want to work are given equal opportunities for employment and receive the help they deserve.”
YEE JENN JONG, 55
Mr Yee ran and lost to candidates from the ruling People’s Action Party in the general elections in 2011 and 2015.
On July 10, he will stand for the third time as a candidate for the Workers’ Party, because he believes Singapore needs a strong alternative in Parliament.
“Only when there’s competition would the PAP listen to you,” said Mr Yee at a press conference yesterday. “In business, we need anti-monopoly laws to keep companies from taking advantage of consumers and to keep on innovating. The same goes for politics as well.”
In 2011, Mr Yee narrowly lost to Mr Charles Chong of the PAP in Joo Chiat SMC with 48.99 per cent of the vote.
The SMC was absorbed into Marine Parade GRC in 2015, and Mr Yee was fielded as part of the Workers’ Party slate of five candidates then. The party garnered 35.9 per cent of votes.
Mr Yee said he continues to be active on the ground, and has initiated community projects in Marine Parade GRC, such as distributing food to lower-income families since the start of the circuit breaker.
RED DOT UNITED
ALEC TOK KIM YAM, 55
Mr Tok first contested in 2011 as a Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate in the single-seat ward of Bukit Panjang, where he lost.
The Yale University graduate, who holds a Master of Fine Arts, wrote and directed his first film, A Big Road, in Shanghai, which was nominated for the Best Film Award when it premiered at the Singapore International Film Festival.
In 2015, while living in the United States, he was invited by the Singapore International Festival of Arts to write and direct Nanyang: The Musical. He has been living here since.
“I believe in Singapore and Singaporeans,” said the father of two.
“We have come this far because different ideas were allowed to contest and compete to shape our economic, social and security landscape. We should retain and protect this strength.”
LIYANA DHAMIRAH, 33
Entrepreneur and author
Ms Liyana was homeless at 22.
At the time, she lived in a tent on Sembawang Beach while pregnant with her third child.
She wrote about her experience in a book titled Homeless: The Untold Story Of A Mother’s Struggle In Crazy Rich Singapore.
The mother of four now lives in a four-room Housing Board flat.
She said she has not forgotten her struggles and, if elected, will champion the needs of marginalised families and entrepreneurs.
“I am concerned about the care and growth of current and future generations,” she added
“Helping them live with dignity, respect and motivation is important for me.”
NICHOLAS TANG, 28
The youngest face in RDU’s Jurong GRC slate, Mr Tang said Singapore needs a shift in policy and thinking in order to help those who are less fortunate.
“From the manicured gardens and spotless streets built on the backs of cheap migrant labour, to the banning of PMDs (personal mobility devices) – all these hide an underlying issue: that we need more empathy for the problems faced by some of the least well-off residents of our population,” said Mr Tang.
“This empathy must be reflected in both our policies and mindset.”
The law graduate from King’s College in London, who is single, is a legal engineer with law firm Pinsent Masons MPillay, where he develops technological solutions for clients.
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