GE2020: Red Dot United unveils 3 candidates for Jurong GRC, but will 'happily give way’ if there's a three-cornered fight
SINGAPORE — Red Dot United, the newest political party, named its first few candidates for the General Election (GE) after Parliament was dissolved on Tuesday (June 23). They include its two founders, former Progress Singapore Party (PSP) members Ravi Philemon, 52, and Michelle Lee, 43, and a formerly homeless individual who will be making her debut in politics, Ms Liyana Dhamirah, 33.
- Newest political party plans to field five-member team to contest in Jurong GRC
- Candidates include author Liyana Dhamirah, who was once homeless
- Plan may drop if Peoples Voice party also chooses to run at Jurong GRC
SINGAPORE — Red Dot United, the newest political party, named its first few candidates for the General Election (GE) after Parliament was dissolved on Tuesday (June 23).
They include its two founders, former Progress Singapore Party (PSP) members Ravi Philemon, 52, and Michelle Lee, 43, and a formerly homeless individual who will be making her debut in politics, Ms Liyana Dhamirah, 33.
They and two other unannounced candidates will form a team to contest in the five-member Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC), if it remains unchallenged by another opposition party, Ms Lee said on Tuesday.
So far, no other political party had indicated plans to run in Jurong GRC except for Peoples Voice, which sprung a surprise on June 19 hours after Red Dot United indicated plans to run there if it remains unchallenged.
Peoples Voices leader, Mr Lim Tean, said in a Facebook post at about 8pm that day: “Peoples Voice has been in active talks with our friends from the other opposition parties and after much consultation, we have decided that Peoples Voice will be sending a very strong team of five candidates to contest in that GRC for the coming GE.
“Jurong GRC is the perfect constituency where our message of putting people first and making Singapore our home again will resonate strongly with the residents.”
In response to this on Tuesday, Ms Lee, chairman of Red Dot United, said that if Mr Lim’s party continues to stick to its late announcement to run in Jurong GRC, her party will “happily give way” because its priority is that “the residents of Jurong be given a choice in the election”.
“Many of (our party members) grew up in Jurong GRC and we have an affection for the area and that’s really what’s driving us at this point of time.
“It is Jurong or nothing,” she added.
For now, Ms Lee said that the party will release its remaining team members’ information and the party’s manifesto in the days leading up to Nomination Day on June 30.
NO EXPERIENCE IN POLITICS
Ms Liyana stood out among the first of Red Dot United’s candidates because she had never been in politics, although she had become a public personality after she authored a book about her bout of homelessness more than a decade ago.
At the time, she was 22, heavily pregnant, and had to sleep with her two young children on a beach in Sembawang and at West Coast Park. Later, she picked herself up and pursued a diploma in business.
She went on to become an entrepreneur, founding Virtual Assistants Singapore, a company that provides administrative support to businesses. A mother of four today, she actively befriends and advocates for lower-income and underprivileged families.
In her profile that was sent to the media introducing her as a candidate, she said that she joined politics because she wishes to “spark hope for millions of people who want to dream big and pursue their dreams without oppressive limitations”.
If she is elected into Parliament, she seeks to tap her experiences to champion the needs of families, entrepreneurs and the marginalised in both Parliament and at her constituency. She added that the pressing challenges of inequality and rising cost of living need addressing.
“I am concerned about the care and growth of current and future generations. Helping them live with dignity, respect and motivation is important for me,” she said.
“There is a need to raise the level of political accountability in Singapore. This requires a balanced political sector, an active civil society and engaged citizens. I’m committed to enhancing all three.”
LOOKING OUT FOR ‘SANDWICH’ CLASS
As for Mr Philemon and Ms Lee, they are not new to the political scene.
Before joining PSP in July last year, Mr Philemon had been with the National Solidarity Party and the Singapore People’s Party (SPP). With SPP, he had contested as a candidate for Hong Kah North Single Member Constituency in GE2015.
Now secretary-general of Red Dot United, he said that he is still passionate about championing social causes, having taken up senior management positions in the social services sector for about 30 years.
He is working now as the managing partner of health and wellness website The Healthy Daily.
He said: “I feel a lot for the ‘sandwiched’ group of people in Singapore. This middle-income group pays their fair share in taxes, but do not receive the same kind of targeted assistance the lower-income group gets, leading to a sense of unfairness.”
If elected, Mr Philemon said that he will push for policy changes that will make the Central Provident Fund savings system more flexible, to give Singaporeans more options for their retirement funds.
Ms Lee, one of the founding members of PSP who was once its vice-chairman before she quit the party in March, was formerly a member of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). She was SDP’s candidate for the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC during GE2011.
As a mother of three school-going children, an educator and a counsellor, she said that she is passionate about preparing the younger generation to be useful citizens as well as critical and independent thinkers on the national and global stage. She also believes it is imperative that values of compassion and people-centredness be reconnected with all aspects of governance.
“Having more people-centred policies means empathising with different groups of people, focusing on improving their quality of life, understanding their daily struggles and valuing people for who they are,” she said.
“We need to provide for the basic needs of the disadvantaged, to give the elders a dignified retirement, to have affordable healthcare and housing for the sandwiched generation, fair wages for all workers, and an affordable cost of living for all.”