Straits Times: More post-65ers set to find place in WP exco

New team being voted in on Sunday may include rookies who contested GE

BY SUE-ANN CHIA

THIS Sunday, the Workers’ Party (WP) will vote for a new team of leaders that will likely feature many of its rookies who contested the General Election.

If they win, the new executive council will comprise more leaders from the post-65 generation. Currently, one in three was born after independence.

Among the likely new faces who ran in the May 6 polls are Mr Yaw Shin Leong, 30, who headed the WP’s Ang Mo Kio GRC team; his teammate Glenda Han, 30; East Coast GRC candidates Perry Tong, 35, and Eric Tan, 50; and Nee Soon Central’s Lian Chin Way, 36.

On her intention to run, Ms Han said: “It is a natural progression to hope to be part of the council.”

The election, brought forward by a year, will determine the posts of chairman, secretary-general and 12 other positions. The council can co-opt up to seven more members.

Explaining the move to speed up the renewal process, WP chairman Sylvia Lim, 41, said in an e-mail to The Straits Times: “The 2006 GE was the refining fire through which the party machinery was put.

“With the momentum built up, the party leadership thinks its timely to harness new potential and would like the cadres to make a decision on who should be in the party leadership for the next phase.”

She said some of the older council members have indicated a desire to step down.

At least two veterans told The Straits Times that they intend to make way for younger blood. They are first vice-chairman Tan Bin Seng, 54, and second vice-chairman Abdul Rahim Abdul Rahman, 66.

“There are now a lot of youngsters coming in and that is a good sign,” said Dr Tan, who has been in the WP for the last two decades.

Others likely to step down are organising secretary Ng Ah Chwee, 56, and deputy treasurer Goh Seng Soon, 56.

Two leaders who are not expected to be re-elected as they are working overseas are second assistant secretary-general James Gomez, 41, who is in Sweden, and treasurer Tan Wui-Hua, 39, who is in the Middle East. Both were in the Aljunied GRC team.

Others likely to remain in the council include election rookies and assistant organising secretaries Chia Ti Lik, 32, and Goh Meng Seng, 36. Mr Chia led the East Coast GRC team, while Mr Goh was in the Aljunied team.

The top two positions are unlikely to be challenged as the leaders have done well in taking the party forward, said party members.

Both Ms Lim and secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, 49, also have seats in Parliament. Ms Lim is the next Non-Constituency MP and Mr Low won his Hougang ward for the fourth time.

Party sources say there is unlikely to be substantive changes in party ideology, but new leaders could bring fresh views.

As the party refreshes its leadership, it has rejuvenated its ranks with at least 100 new members, all aged below 40.

“This augurs well for the future of Singapore as it shows that Singaporeans do care, and debunks the cynicism of some that the young are an apathetic lot,” Ms Lim said.

sueann@sph.com.sg

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