GE2020: The Workers’ Party
GE2020: Voting for the first time and knowing next to nothing about the various political parties in Singapore? Get to know them and their new candidates in our General Election (GE) series.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PARTY
Founded in 1957 by Mr David Marshall, the first Chief Minister of Singapore
The main opposition party in Singapore, the Workers’ Party (WP) holds six out of 89 elected seats in Parliament. It also has three Non-Constituency Members of Parliament
This General Election (GE) is party chief Pritam Singh’s first as secretary-general. In April 2018, Mr Singh took over the top post from veteran politician Low Thia Khiang — who had been WP chief since 2001. Mr Low, along with a couple of senior WP members Png Eng Huat and Chen Show Mao, will not be standing in GE2020.
The party has held Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) since 2011 and Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC) since 1991
The party pushes for a government based on parliamentary democracy and socialism, and is committed to improving Singaporeans’ quality of life
NEW CANDIDATES UNVEILED SO FAR
Raeesah Begum Farid Khan, 27
The party’s youngest candidate, Ms Khan has been helping in WP’s meet-the-people sessions as a case writer.
She is also the founder of the Reyna Movement, a regional organisation set up in 2016 to empower women through community engagement and upskilling programmes.
Ms Khan said during her introduction on Friday: “In the course of my work, I often ask myself why it is getting disproportionately harder for working-class families to live a decent life, why is it that when it comes to navigating our post-Covid-19 future, only the elites get a seat at the table.
“This is not the Singapore we deserve. What we deserve is a country where the marginalised are cared for, including senior citizens and people with disabilities.”
Ms Khan is also the daughter of Mr Farid Khan, a presidential hopeful from the Presidential Election in 2017, which was reserved for Malay candidates.
When asked how he has influenced her, Ms Khan said that they share a passion for public service and have many discussions about the community.
She has a bachelor’s degree in economics and marketing from Murdoch University.
Assoc Prof Jamus Lim, 44
The associate professor of economics at Essec Business School is a first-time candidate, although he has been walking the ground with WP for some time.
A father of one, Assoc Prof Lim returned to Singapore after two decades abroad. He has a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics and a master’s in history from Harvard University in the United States. He also has a master’s in politics and doctorate in international economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Before joining academia, Mr Lim spent more than seven years in the World Bank as an economist. He was also lead economist at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which manages the sovereign wealth fund of the city, and worked on policy issues at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies.
He has said that children here endure a “pressure cooker” education system, an environment steeped in tuition, supplementary classes and co-curricular activities. He questioned the consequences of the focus on outcomes, with young graduates often becoming private-hire car drivers or deliverymen.
He said Singapore’s education system is not preparing Singaporean children to take on good jobs, and wants to raise issues such as these in Parliament for the sake of his eight-month-old daughter and other children.
“We can only resolve these most difficult questions when there is a healthy, active debate — and an honest debate — about solutions,” he said.
Ms Nicole Seah, 33
Ms Seah, an associate director at a multinational marketing company, is making her political comeback, after her debut in 2011.
That year, she gained prominence as a candidate in Marine Parade GRC under the National Solidarity Party (NSP).
She resigned from NSP in 2014 and joined WP as a volunteer the following year.
Ms Seah, a mother of a two-year-old girl, said that she joined WP as she was drawn to its ethos to build a strong and reasonable opposition that contributes to Singapore’s political landscape.
On her political comeback, she said that the political landscape was “unfair” and the playing field unequal.
“To be honest, I am having a very stable career right now. My personal life is in a very good state. I do recognise that coming back out will also mean increased scrutiny.
“But I do it for the party because I believe in the leadership and vision. And I do it for my daughter, because she is the next generation of Singaporeans and I want to leave behind a legacy for her, where she would feel comfortable regardless of political inclinations or the kinds of views that she is expressing.”
Mr Muhammad Azhar Abdul Latip, 34
Mr Muhammad Azhar is a Grab driver and runs a small business, after he lost his left leg in a road accident in 2014. He previously worked in the marine insurance industry, before becoming an insurance broker with an international broking house.
A political science graduate from the National University of Singapore, he helps out in WP’s grassroots activities in the Kaki Bukit division of Aljunied GRC with outgoing MP Faisal Manap and in the Fengshan SMC, which has been absorbed into East Coast GRC for the coming polls.
He has known Mr Faisal since 2010, and has helped with his community outreach and food distribution programmes.
Mr Azhar said that he hoped to be given an opportunity to help and be a voice for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society. “I’d like to see a more equitable and fairer society, where minorities are not discriminated against and where each of us gets a fair shot in life.”
Louis Chua Kheng Wee, 33
A graduate of the Singapore Management University, Mr Chua is a vice-president at Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse where his research focuses on Singapore’s equity markets.
While he is making his political debut this year, Mr Chua has been actively involved in grassroots work as well as parliamentary support work. It was not stated when he joined the party.
Referencing his professional experiences, Mr Chua said that he is able to make an objective call on whether all stakeholders are being taken care of because of transparency and disclosure requirements.
“It is with this understanding that I strongly believe that a monopoly in governance is never a good thing. Without an effective opposition in Parliament, who will guard the guards themselves?”
Nathaniel Koh, 36
Mr Koh is a digital product owner at a multinational organisation, and has been a volunteer with WP for 11 years. He is married and expecting his first child in September.
From 2009 to 2014, Mr Koh was part of the WP Youth Wing as its secretary and member of its executive committee. He has a bachelor degree in information systems management and political science from the Singapore Management University.
He also volunteered at Mr Faisal’s meet-the-people sessions between 2011 and 2015, and has been a secretarial assistant to Mr Singh since the GE in 2015. Mr Koh was also an election agent in GE2011 and helped manage volunteers at Sengkang West SMC in GE2015.
Mr Koh said that he has an interest in reducing “the impediments and obstacles that a family might face in caring for your child”.
If elected, he hopes to provide social incentives to encourage both parents to care for their newborn child, and help mothers who want to enter the workforce transition into their job roles easily.
Tan Chen Chen, 38
Ms Tan is a contracts administrator and has a bachelor degree in applied science in construction management.
Since 2015, she has been volunteering with WP, assisting outgoing Member of Parliament Low Thia Khang at meet-the-people sessions. She is also active in grassroots work at Aljunied GRC.
It is her hope that more Singaporeans will recognise that “an elected opposition presence in Parliament is critical”.
She believes that a rational and respectable opposition will “provide responsible competition to the PAP, thereby ensuring a robust system of checks and balances for the good of Singapore and Singaporeans”.
Muhammad Fadli, 40
Mr Fadli is a lawyer with Inkwell Law Corporation, and his work deals with both criminal and civil litigation. Since May 2014, he has been a councillor with Aljunied Hougang Town Council and helps out in the party’s grassroots work.
Before entering legal practice, Mr Fadli was a senior policy development officer with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) for five years.
He later decided to pursue a law degree as part of a mid-career switch because he wanted a “more hands on way of helping people”.
Mr Fadli hopes to consolidate and expand on government schemes that help mid-career professionals and to make them more accessible, saying that loans from such schemes helped him make his career switch.
Mr Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54
A first-time candidate, Mr Abdul Shariff started volunteering with WP eight years ago.
He said that he had quit his last job as a researcher to run in the upcoming elections due to his company’s policy on non-partisanship.
Mr Abdul Shariff, who has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Tri-Sector Collaboration from the Singapore Management University, said that he held menial jobs such as undertaker, bus driver and security guard well into his 30s to put himself through university.
“It’s my firm belief that coming from humble beginnings does not mean you are humble. When you believe that you have succeeded purely on individual merits, you may hold the view that those who are not successful have only themselves to blame,” said Mr Abdul Shariff.
WHERE IT WILL CONTEST
East Coast GRC
Marine Parade GRC
Punggol West SMC
RESULTS IN GE2015
Won in Aljunied GRC with 50.96 per cent of the vote
Won in Hougang SMC with 57.66 per cent of the vote
Lost in East Coast GRC with 39.27 per cent of the vote
Lost in Jalan Besar GRC with 32.25 per cent of the vote
Lost in Marine Parade GRC with 35.93 per cent of the vote
Lost in Nee Soon GRC with 33.17 per cent of the vote
Lost in Fengshan SMC with 42.50 per cent of the vote
Lost in MacPherson SMC with 33.59 per cent of the vote
Lost in Punggol East SMC with 48.23 per cent of the vote
Lost in Sengkang West SMC with 37.87 per cent of the vote