Straits Times: WP forms ‘action plan’ to attract more Malays

Leaders see lack of support from Malays as key reason for Aljunied GRC defeat

BY ZAKIR HUSSAIN

THE Workers’ Party (WP) is rolling out its post-election plans to attract more Malay members and reach out to the community, starting with the young.

Four Malays now sit on the 12-member council of the party’s youth wing, compared to none when the youth wing was formed in 2005.

“There are steps being taken to cultivate Malay party members,” said WP vice-chairman Mohammed Rahizan Yaacob, declining to reveal more details.

The Straits Times understands that there is a “Malay action plan”, and early indications of the type of outreach activities the party is keen on.

During the fasting month last October, for example, WP members went door to door in the private residential area of Opera Estate, which has a significant Malay population, to collect traditional Malay outfits, or baju kurung.

Youth wing members then distributed the clothes to the Pertapis Children’s Home in time for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The party’s interest in the Malay community was sparked by its post-mortem of how it fared in last year’s general election. The WP leaders felt that a lack of support from the Malays was a key reason for its defeat in the closely watched Aljunied GRC then.

Party secretary-general and Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang said then that the party had to work harder to get candidates from minority communities if it wanted to improve on its showing in the GRCs.

Since then, “a fair number of minority members have joined”, said party chairman and Non-Constituency MP Sylvia Lim.

Three members elected to the youth wing’s council at its conference in August were:

>> Mr Abdul Salim Harun, 25, a sales officer. He was a WP candidate in Ang Mo Kio GRC last year and is the youngest member of the WP executive council.

>> Mr Muhammad Noor, 29, who runs his own business dealing with health-care and ambulance services.

>> Mr Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap, 31, a counsellor with a voluntary welfare organisation. The former technical officer with the HDB is a psychology graduate from Monash University.

>> The fourth, Mr Firuz Khan, 40, was co-opted to the youth wing’s council in November. The general manager of chocolate company Royce’ in Singapore has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Birmingham and is a former administrator of the Pertapis Children’s Home.

Asked why he joined the WP, he said: “It’s healthy to have diverse, alternative views on issues, and I thought I could contribute.”

Mr Firuz will be speaking at a forum today, organised by the WP at its headquarters, on the proposed amendments to the Penal Code.

Said Ms Lim: “We recognise the need for WP to represent Singapore as a whole and to be in touch with concerns and sentiments across all communities.”

Added deputy webmaster and youth wing secretary Glenda Han, 30: “We look across the board for people. I don’t think we make a distinction, although we’ll be happy if more minorities join us.”

zakir@sph.com.sg

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