Straits Times: Berkeley grad joins WP’s East Coast GRC team

By T. Rajan

“I joined the WP because it has a long-standing tradition of being consistent in the positions it has taken as an opposition party.” – Mr Perry Tong.

MEET AND GREET: Mr Raymond Lim, Second Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs, and Workers’ Party’s Mr Eric Tan exchange greetings during their walkabout at East Coast GRC. – LIM SIN THAI

HE IS a political science graduate from the University of California at Berkeley and now completes the Workers’ Party line-up of likely candidates to stand in East Coast GRC.

Mr Perry Tong, 35, joined the party three years ago at the invitation of executive council member Melvin Tan, whom he met in 2003.

That was when both were volunteers at the Think Centre, a civil rights group founded by fellow WP member James Gomez.

“I joined the WP because it has a long-standing tradition of being consistent in the positions it has taken as an opposition party,” said Mr Tong, who was seen for the first time with WP members on a morning walkabout yesterday at Bedok Central market.

The others were WP second vice-chairman Abdul Rahim Abdul Rahman, 66; lawyer Chia Ti Lik, 33; Mr Eric Tan, 50, general manager of RBC Dexia Investor Services Global, a venture between the Royal Bank of Canada and Dexia Banque Internationale a Luxembourg; and Mr Brandon Siow, 31, an account manager with Singapore Airlines Cargo.

WP members have been active in East Coast GRC for some time now, conducting house-to-house visits and meeting residents at coffee shops and markets.

But the induction of Mr Tong, a management consultant with the United States-based Hackett Group, suggests the team can now focus on election preparations.

However, Mr Chia, who led the team yesterday, declined to confirm the East Coast GRC line-up and said it is a decision for the party to make.

Mr Tong, who has been married for two years to a 28-year-old financial analyst, graduated among the top 10 per cent of his cohort in October 1998.

Team member Eric Tan has an MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; while Mr Chia and Mr Siow are graduates of the National University of Singapore. Mr Abdul Rahim, the only non-graduate, would only say he had his early education in Malay.

While on their walkabout, the WP team met their rivals from the People’s Action Party, led by Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar. With him were new PAP candidates Jessica Tan, 39, and Mr Lee Yi Shyan, 44, as well as outgoing MP Tan Soo Khoon.

Both teams greeted each other and continued their walkabout – and the WP members then bumped into Second Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs Raymond Lim.

The WP team mingled with the early morning market crowd, distributing party fliers and cards which carried brief profiles of each candidate and their contact numbers.

In response to a question that more could be done for the estate, Mr Tong said: “The state of the infrastructure in the GRC needs improvement. I witnessed two floods in Bedok in the past month alone. Matters like this should be addressed.”

These were some of the municipal issues he and the team will address during their election campaign, he said, declining to elaborate further on other issues they will raise.

Mr Chia, on his part, said his desire to become an MP stemmed from his wish to speak up for Singaporeans, especially those he feels are not heard:

“As an ordinary citizen, my voice is just a squeak. As a possible candidate, my voice becomes more of a shout. As an elected MP, my voice becomes a roar. The PAP will hear what I have to say and act on it.”

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