Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party unfazed by James Gomez incident


By Augustine Anthuvan

SINGAPORE: The Secretary-General of the Workers’ Party has said he does not feel anything significant or negative towards the WP over the James Gomez incident.

Mr Low Thia Khiang was asked during a WP walkabout in Nee Soon East if the incident has hurt the image of the opposition party – which has made accountability a key campaign platform.

Mr Low is a WP candidate for Hougang.

Mr Low says: “I don’t feel anything significant or negative towards the Workers’ Party over the incident. I think people do understand and people do.

“Singaporeans are intelligent enough, sophisticated enough to look at the thing. I mean the footage, the apologies, my explanation and decide for themselves.” – CNA/de

Posted in 2006 04. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party unfazed by James Gomez incident

Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party’s slate of candidates better than in previous polls: Low Thia Khiang


By Farah Abdul Rahim

Low Thia Khiang

SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party has introduced its first three candidates ahead of the May 6th General Election.

The opposition party plans to contest 20 out of the 84 seats in parliament, and Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang says the party’s slate of candidates is the “most qualified” since the 1988 polls.

Dressed in their trademark blue tops, the Workers’ Party introduced on Friday their first batch of new faces – Sylvia Lim, a polytechnic lecturer, Eric Tan, a banker, and Yaw Shin Leong, an IT consultant.

The criteria for their selection are credibility, capability, character, passion and public-spiritedness.

The Workers’ Party’s Secretary-General also revealed that the party had the luxury of turning away potential candidates.

This time, it is fielding 20 candidates, 10 times more than in the previous election.

Despite fielding more candidates, the opposition party, which has just launched its election website, is realistic about its chances.

Mr Low said: “Politics is a process for the long haul, not for instant success especially in opposition and I told potential candidates frankly, if you think you will be elected this election, then frankly better join the PAP…but if you want to join WP, prepare to lose.”

Nevertheless, Mr Low says how the opposition fares at this election may well determine if the opposition has a role in Singapore.

Across the board, the opposition has said it may contest as many as 57 of the 84 seats, which means that the ruling People’s Action Party may not be returned to power on Nomination Day for the first time since 1988. – CNA/ch

Posted in 2006 04. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party’s slate of candidates better than in previous polls: Low Thia Khiang

Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party introduces first 3 candidates for upcoming GE


By Farah Abdul Rahim

Yaw Shin Leong, Sylvia Lim, Eric Tan

SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party has begun the official introduction of its candidates for the 2006 General Election.

All three opposition candidates presented at a news conference on Friday are taking part in their first electoral battle.

30-year-old Yaw Shin Leong is an e-business consultant and corporate trainer.

The former student activist, who is married, also sits on the Executive Committee of the party’s Youth Wing.

Before joining the Workers’ Party, he had helped out at various grassroots activities in Potong Pasir, and was also involved in the civil group, The Think Centre.

He majored in political science and sociology at the National University of Singapore, and has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Sydney.

Described as an idealist by his party’s secretary-general, Mr Yaw has been working the ground in Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency.

He said: “I represent a younger cohort of Singaporeans, the so-called, the post-65ers, post-independence cohort, I guess, for fellow peers like myself.”

Party Chairman Sylvia Lim was the second candidate presented.

The 41-year-old, who is single, lectures at Temasek Polytechnic and is also the Manager of Continuing Education and Training at its Business School.

She was a police inspector and practising lawyer before joining the polytechnic.

Ms Lim graduated with a law degree from the National University of Singapore and has a Master of Law from the University of London.

Meeting the media, Ms Lim, who is expected to be part of the Opposition team contesting the Aljunied group constituency, spoke about how she expects her party to fare and the need for opposition MPs.

She said: “If there are opposition MPs in Parliament, we can vote against policies we don’t agree with and that will put pressure on the PAP government to refine their policies.”

The third candidate, 50-year-old Eric Tan, is the general manager in charge of client services at RBC Dexia Investor Services Global, a joint venture of the Royal Bank of Canada.

Before joining the Canadian bank, he was with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation for 12 years serving in various positions.

Mr Tan is married with three children.

He is an electrical engineering graduate from the National University of Singapore and has a Master in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.

Mr Tan, who became a member of The Workers’ Party two years ago, may be fielded in the East Coast GRC.

He revealed that it took him about eight years to decide to join the opposition party.

Mr Tan said: “The mother of all fears is to join the opposition and when we join the opposition and sort of tell the people, send a signal to the people that it’s okay to be different.”

The Workers’ Party is expected to introduce more candidates over the next few days. – CNA/ch

Posted in 2006 04. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party introduces first 3 candidates for upcoming GE

TODAY: Postpone NKF court case: WP’s Low

General Election 2006

OPPOSITION MP Low Thia Khiang hopes the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) court case will be postponed until after the election.

This will allow for a good debate on the issue, without stepping afoul of the law, the Workers’ Party chief told reporters after his meet-the-people session on Wednesday night. The NKF saga was one issue that Opposition parties were hoping to raise at the hustings, but plans were dropped after former top executives at the charity were charged this week.

It is against the law to publicly comment on a case that is being considered in court.

“I would urge the Government to consider withdrawing the case for the time being until after the elections,” he said adding that otherwise it would prevent the Opposition from making it an issue.

“Even Khaw Boon Wan has said that perhaps it is good to debate it, so as to have a better insight. So, is it fair that now the people want to debate and you sue someone … so you can’t debate? I think it doesn’t look good on the Government.”

On the PAP manifesto, Mr Low said it’s mainly geared to the elections. “At the last election, they also came up with a beautiful manifesto. But they did not tell us that they are going to increase GST. What have they not told us in this election manifesto? I don’t know.” – 938LIVE

Straits Times: Workers’ Party, SDA to roll out candidates over next few days


NO COMPLAINTS about a rushed election. No real sign of activity. No sweat.

Unlike in the past, the opposition camp reacted coolly to the announcement of key election dates yesterday, reflecting a higher state of readiness than it has ever had, despite entering the polls in larger numbers.

And in a break from the opposition’s tradition of announcing candidates only on Nomination Day, the two biggest parties have said they will do so in the next couple of days.

Workers’ Party (WP) secretary-general Low Thia Khiang told The Straits Times that his party’s slate of candidates, numbering about 20, will be introduced from today.

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) said its 20 candidates will be made known at a press conference tomorrow.

The opposition camp is gunning for an expected total of 47 seats, which will deny the People’s Action Party a parliamentary majority on Nomination Day next Thursday. Back in 2001, only 29 seats were contested.

Opposition politicians appear to appreciate the longer lead time they have had to prepare for this GE. In 2001, only a day separated the release of the Electoral Boundaries Report and the announcement of the election. This time, almost 50 days have passed since the boundaries report was made public on March 3.

Mr Low, who will be defending his Hougang seat, described the longer breathing space as “an improvement”.

Mr Steve Chia, who will be contesting under the SDA banner, said the Government has been “a lot fairer” to the opposition this time.

With the exception of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), none of the other opposition parties held meetings last night.

It appears that the wards have been carved out, with no three-cornered fights expected. The exception is the single-seat constituency of Nee Soon Central, now coveted by both the WP and SDP.

The two parties have up till Thursday to iron out their differences if they want to stick to their plan to avoid three-cornered fights.

Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party to introduce 20 candidates in run-up to Nomination Day


By Farah Abdul Rahim

Sylvia Lim, Chairman, Workers’ Party

SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party will roll out some 20 candidates over the next 5 days – in the run-up to Nomination Day.

It plans to contest three GRCs including Ang Mo Kio and four Single Member Constituencies.

The Workers’ Party was the first opposition party to unveil its election manifesto earlier this year.

Sylvia Lim, Chairman, Workers’ Party, said: “We started preparing for this election really early this time and many of our potential candidates have been walking the ground from 3 to 4 years ago. We are glad it’s finally here, it gives some finality to the whole thing and we want to get on with it and get the show on the road.”

When the People’s Action Party introduced their new candidates, it called on the opposition to do likewise as the PAP believed Singaporeans should know who candidates are to make an informed choice.

But the Workers’ Party said it would wait till elections were called.

Out of the 20 candidates to be introduced by the Workers’ Party over the next few days, 15 will be first timers like its chairman Sylvia Lim while another 5 would have had some experience in at least one election campaign before.

The Workers’ Party plans to contest Ang Mo Kio, Aljunied and East Coast GRCs and 4 single seats – Hougang, Joo Chiat, Nee Soon East and Nee Soon Central.

The Workers’ Party made way for the SDP to contest Sembawang GRC so as to avoid a 3-cornered fight.

And in return, it wants to contest the single ward of Nee Soon Central, which the SDP had staked previously.

But will there be a three-cornered fight in Nee Soon Central?

Sylvia Lim said: “If a three-cornered fight is not resolved, we still have plans to go there.”

All eyes will be on whether a deal between the two opposition parties to avoid that scenario will be worked out before Nomination Day. – CNA/ch

Posted in 2006 04. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: Workers’ Party to introduce 20 candidates in run-up to Nomination Day

Straits Times: WP new face: From Normal stream to top grad



“Something’s got to give. The people need to be represented.”

MR TONG, who declined to confirm his candidacy, said that, if elected, he would quit his $100,000-a-year job and be a full-time MP. He is a management consultant who advises chief financial officers on how to optimise their company’s funds.

POTENTIAL Workers’ Party (WP) candidate Perry Tong, 35, is what some would call a Comeback Kid.

He took five years to get his O-levels and scraped through with three passes – in English, geography, and combined physics and chemistry.

Following his national service, he took another five years, working as a bartender, to save for a tertiary education in the United States.

Eventually, he got a political science degree from the University of California in Berkeley, graduating among the top 10 per cent of those who received a degree in 1998.

Yesterday, in relating his struggle to be a graduate, Mr Tong shrugged off talk that the opposition finds it difficult to attract talented people.

“No, it’s not true. You’re talking now to possibly one (talent),” he said with a wry smile during an interview with The Straits Times.

But ask him if he had considered joining the People’s Action Party, he replies matter-of-factly: “No. With my academic track record, I didn’t think I’d qualify for the PAP.”

Mr Tong spent his first 10 years of school in St Andrews, where he was in the Normal stream in secondary schools.

For his O-levels, he switched to Ping Yi Secondary, which was nearer his home – a three-room HDB flat in Marine Parade. His family could not afford the bus fare to St Andrews in Potong Pasir.

His father, now retired, was then a small-time businessman and his mother, a housewife.

The older of two sons, Mr Tong said he worked as a waiter for a year before his national service. He then became a bartender, and at one point held two jobs, working from 9am to 5am, to save for his studies.

In 1996, he left for Santa Barbara City College where he studied for 18 months before moving to the University of California in Berkeley. To help pay for his tuition fees, he said he worked 12-hour shifts daily as a bartender.

His interest in politics was piqued when the late President Ong Teng Cheong had an exchange with the Government on the state of its reserves.

However, he joined the WP only three years ago when his career was on a firmer footing, after he was laid off by a dotcom company.

He chose the WP as “it has a long tradition of being consistent in seeking to improve the welfare of Singaporeans”.

But it was only last November that he stepped forward as election talk became rife. “I believe that moral support is not enough, you have to active,” he said.

He is likely to be a WP candidate at East Coast GRC, where he was seen for the first time on Sunday, when potential WP candidates went for a walkabout at Bedok Central Market.

He declined to confirm his candidacy but said that, if elected, he would quit his $100,000-a-year job with United States-based company Hackett Group and be a full-time MP.

“Something’s got to give. The people need to be represented,” said Mr Tong, a management consultant who advises chief financial officers on how to optimise their company’s funds.

The man who stands at over 1.9 metres and has a deep bass voice shrugged his broad shoulders and said his work, which requires him to travel about 80 per cent of the time, would clash with his job as MP.

If elected, he would focus initially on local issues, such as alleviating the flash flood problems in Bedok.

“I would like to begin with municipal issues, and work my way up to national issues,” he said.