BY TANYA FONG
A SELF-PROCLAIMED “Nee Soon boy”, Workers’ Party’s Dr Poh Lee-Guan, 40, insists you call him “Ah Poh”.
He said he spent his youth in Nee Soon.
Indeed, some people at the Workers’ Party rallies can be heard shouting for “Ah Poh! Ah Poh!”
Dr Poh was made the assistant secretary-general of the WP in May this year, almost as soon as he joined the party.
He himself admitted that his grassroots experience is “very limited”. This is his first foray into politics.
On Oct 26, a day after Nomination Day, Dr Poh went for a walkabout in Hougang with enthusiasm. Shaking hands with fishmongers and the elderly, he appeared to be at ease with the residents.
His reasoning: “I am the man-on-the-street. They are my elders and my peers, and I am one of them.”
He reaches out to the coffeeshop and market folk with his fluent Hokkien.
His oft-repeated belief is: “The country and constituency is ours. There is only one Singapore between us. Got money, give money. Got energy, give energy.”
Then there are the three Hokkien maxims his father, 60, a retired lorry driver, had taught him since he was a boy.
First: Ai lun (must tolerate).
Second: Mai luan gong (don’t talk without discretion).
Third: Si mi dai zi buay ching chu, meng lao da, lim kopi, keng keng (when in doubt, consult your elders, have coffee, and talk).
Maybe this is why he shies away from giving any comments about his competitor in the single-seat ward Nee Soon East, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee.
“He is a friendly competitor,” that’s all he said.
Dr Poh obtained his Business Administration doctorate from the University of Southern Queensland (Australia) in May this year.
He feels his specialty in “knowledge management and creation” would “effectively contribute to the development of policies to strengthen our economic competitiveness”. He said he decided to join the WP because he and Mr Low Thia Khiang, the party secretary-general, whom he has known for almost five years, “share the same values”.
He said: “I am very comfortable with his rules of engagement – responsible and constructive politics.”
Dr Poh is married, and has a 4 1/2-year-old son. The family lives in an HDB flat in Woodlands.
Name: Dr Poh Lee-Guan, assistant secretary-general, Workers’ Party
Occupation: Training consultant
Seat contested: Nee Soon East, a single ward