TODAY: Workers’ Party new face makes the rounds


PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Management consultant Perry Tong, 35, was the Workers’ Party’s new face making the rounds in Bedok and Simei yesterday. He is part of a team which looks likely to challenge the People’s Action Party in East Coast GRC at the coming General Election.

Seen with him at a coffee shop near Simei MRT station are lawyer Chia Ti Lik, 33; Hougang town council technical officer Abdul Rahim Abdul Rahman, 66; Mr Brandon Siow, 31, an account manager with Singapore Airlines Cargo; and Mr Eric Tan, 51, general manager of a financial services company.

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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.”

New Paper on Sunday: Who’s that CHIC chick?

Eye on election

She mixes a mean drink, but minces no words. Workers’ Party’s Glenda Han answers our questions – straight

SylviaTohPaikChoo
paikchoo@sph.com.sg


pictures | alvin toh, choo chwee hua

Party people: Caption: Ms Han (far right) with fellow WP Youth Wing exco members (from left) Melvin Tan, Chia Ti Lik, Tan Wui Hua, Goh Meng Seng and Ng Swee Bee.

POLITICS is a tough number.

Once you decide to stand, there is no way to run, ever, from legitimately probing questions, among which are: What is your mother’s maiden name? Do you have a pet? Where do you cut your hair? And, of late, tell us something about yourself that no one else knows.

Miss Glenda Han is 30 and single, and pretty cool in the way some men would describe as “hot”.

If one of the Dove shampoo ad girls ran for election, she’d be Glenda Han.

The deputy secretary of the youth wing of the Workers’ Party is No 2 of four sisters. One sells cars, another is in the garment industry and the youngest is entering NUS.

Miss Han used to have a stake in Ig’s Heaven, a shop stocked with quirky lifestyle objects.

She cashed in her quirky chips, took off to see the world (except South America), went to roost in Montmartre, the artists’ colony in Paris, loved it and stayed two years.

“My arty-farty side,” she said, with a flick of her lustrous black hair. No, she was not a Dove shampoo girl…

“I like to paint. Still life, portraits mostly, in oils.”

When she is not flaring.

Flaring is what double-jointed bartenders do with liquor orders when they have an audience, you know, make a Cirque du Soleil juggle just to serve a Bloody Mary.

“Sure I can do flaring,” said Miss Han, a shareholder in Les Chameaux, a cocktail bar in Robertson Quay. But she does stop at bartop dancing.

Les Chameaux is “camels” in French for her sojourn in France, and camels because she wanted “something Middle Eastern”. She said: “We have shisha.” (Scented smokes.)

Miss Han can mix 30 cocktails, and her favourite drink is the Cosmopolitan; but of course, it’s Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sex and the City) preferred tipple.

If you had to concoct a WP cocktail what would be the mix?

“Vodka base with citron for zest,” she said without a comma, exuding confidence.

Why am I not suprised that the slim urbanely dressed Miss Han shares an apartment with three single girls, but has no love life to speak of.

Her day job is in money brokerage, nights at the bar counter, and all the in-between time is given over to family and her pet cat.

“At first they were apprehensive, at the idea of my going into politics,” she said. “But they did not dissuade me. Now they are supportive.”

CHILD OF THE REVOLUTION?

It was her years in the French capital that fired her political sensibilities. Home of the Revolution, the Rights of Man, the 1968 student riots heard around the world.

“In France, they debate over every single thing. The culture of politics is strong. Here, all people care about is the pursuit of wealth, bigger house, bigger car. They forget the small things.”

Like taking time out to chill rather than climb the corporate ladder? Like having the passion and the energy not to be apathetic?

“Many people don’t dare (to take risks), because they think of what they have to lose. I follow my gut.”

And when her gut feels bloated – from one Cosmopolitan too many, she heads to the gym.

And the one thing no one knows…?

“Well, I bought a violin when I was in Europe. I should learn to play it.”

TODAY: WP leaves Sembawang GRC battle to SDP

General Election 2006

Instead it will contest Nee Soon Central

JASMINE YIN
jasmine.yin@newstoday.com.sg

A POSSIBLE three-cornered fight at Sembawang Group Representation Constituency (GRC) has been averted after the two Opposition parties eyeing the six-member ward met on Tuesday to iron things out.

The Workers’ Party (WP) has agreed to swap Sembawang GRC, which it had staked a claim on during last month’s key meeting between the Opposition parties, with the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) Nee Soon Central single ward.

In its media statement released yesterday, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said this decision was triggered by the SDP’s intention to make the National Kidney Foundation debacle an “election issue” and face off with the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) team led by Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

“With these insights, WP … has decided to scale back its election targets and give up Sembawang GRC to the SDP,” the statement read.

While the WP has not officially stated who it will be fielding for this single ward, signs point to its youth action committee chairman Yaw Shin Leong, 30, as a likely candidate.

An information technology consultant who has been working the ground in Sembawang, Mr Yaw told TODAY: “Being a staunch believer in political development in Singapore, I do not believe in three-cornered fights among the alternative parties. I see this as a positive outcome. We must move in synergy in strategy and direction. It’s always party above self.”

SDP party leader Dr Chee Soon Juan declined to comment.

Standing in the WP’s way at Nee Soon Central is PAP incumbent Ong Ah Heng, 62, who said he is still unsure if he will be fielded for this upcoming general election.

“As far as the ward is concerned, I welcome any Opposition candidate. Let the voters have a choice and make a decision,” he said.

Straits Times: Give me GRC with both opposition wards

WORKERS’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang issued his own challenge in response to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s dare that he contest a GRC: Give him one that includes his ward and Potong Pasir as well.

It would not be difficult for Mr Lee to ask the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee to draw a GRC that would include the two opposition-held constituencies, the Hougang MP said.

“They are not as far as Serangoon and Marine Parade,” Mr Low said, referring to the Serangoon ward which was previously part of the Marine Parade GRC. It is now part of Aljunied GRC. He was responding to comments by Mr Lee who, during a forum with young Singaporeans, said that Mr Low and Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong should move out of single-seat wards and helm GRCs.

Mr Low said he was not adverse to contesting in a GRC, but it will not be at the coming general election. Also, any such decision on a GRC was for his party to make. Still, he offered a challenge to the PAP for single wards and GRCs. The PAP appeared to be concerned about their new candidates not facing a contest at the polls. His solution: have them contest in single-seat constituencies.

“I would also advise the new Prime Minister to test especially those of ministerial quality to lead a GRC to see if they can carry the ground,” he said. “That would provide fairer competition. Then it’s candidate to candidate – not Opposition to Minister.”

T. RAJAN

TODAY: AMK a ‘massive’ task for WP

RESIDENTS and shopkeepers of Teck Ghee constituency watched on in interest yesterday as a big group donning whites led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong bumped into a bunch of Workers’ Party (WP) members clad in blue at a hawker centre. Both parties were on walkabouts around Teck Ghee.

Shaking hands with the Opposition members, Mr Lee asked, “Are you planning to stand here? Are you going to contest here?”

To this, WP member Yaw Shin Leong replied: “Ang Mo Kio GRC is one of our targets.”

“A big target or a small target?” asked Mr Lee.

“A massive one,” said Mr Yaw, who later explained to reporters that Ang Mo Kio was a “massive” target to the WP because it was a tough one.

“Well, good luck, and I look forward to seeing you people here,” said Mr Lee.

WP had said it might contest in Ang Mo Kio to provide voters there with a chance to vote.

The Opposition party had visited Teck Ghee about five or six times this year, said Mr Yaw, a 30-year-old IT consultant.

With him yesterday were other WP members, including businesswoman Glenda Han, 30; sales coordinator Abdul Salim, 24; translation company editorial executive Lee Wai Leng, 26; sales executive Melvin Tan, 31; and property executive Gopal Krishnan, 54. – LEE CHING WERN

Straits Times: PM runs into WP group in ward

ELECTION 06

BY SUE-ANN CHIA


PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
PM’S HOME TURF: On a walkabout in his Teck Ghee ward of Ang Mo Kio GRC, Mr Lee ran into Mr Yaw Shin Leong (centre), a Workers’ Party Youth Wing executive committee member, who was there with other WP members. Asked by the PM if he would be a contender in Ang Mo Kio, Mr Yaw jokingly replied that the target was “massive”.

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong was in his Teck Ghee ward of Ang Mo Kio GRC yesterday when he and his team bumped into Workers’ Party members on a walkabout too.

Shaking hands, Mr Lee asked WP Youth Wing executive committee member Yaw Shin Leong if he is contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Mr Yaw replied that it is for his party leadership to decide.

When Mr Lee asked if this was a big or small target, Mr Yaw replied: “Massive target.”

The 30-year-old business analyst told reporters afterwards: “It’s not easy to contest in Ang Mo Kio. The logistics itself are…wow.”

Still, he felt that Ang Mo Kio residents are familiar with the Workers’ Party as part of the GRC was once in the now-defunct Cheng San GRC, where the WP put up a strong showing in the 1997 elections.

He said WP members had visited Ang Mo Kio GRC more than 10 times in recent weeks, including five visits to Teck Ghee.

Mr Yaw said it was the first time he had met Mr Lee in person and found him to be “a nice gentleman”.

Mr Yaw, who was part of the disqualified WP team for Aljunied GRC in the 2001 General Election, was accompanied by a youthful group of over a dozen. They included businesswoman Glenda Han, 30; sales coordinator Abdul Salim, 24; translation company executive Lee Wai Leng, 26; sales executive Melvin Tan, 31; and property executive Gopal Krishnan, 54.

They were distributing leaflets and brochures to hawkers and stall patrons about half an hour before the PAP team arrived at the same food centre.

A 65-year-old resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ong, said of the WP team: “Their chances are slim, but some fight is better than no fight at all.”

sueann@sph.com.sg