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

SINGAPORE VOTES 2006

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

ELECTION 06

BY SUE-ANN CHIA


QUITTING HIS JOB
“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.

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.

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.”