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Progress Singapore Party to contest 8 constituencies; unveils 23-year-old law undergrad as candidate

SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) confirmed that it will run in eight constituencies in the upcoming General Election (GE).

PSP unveiled six new candidates (from top left, clockwise): Mr Abas Kasmani, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Mr Harish Pillay, Dr Tan Meng Wah, Ms Kayla Low and Mr Choo Shaun Ming.

PSP unveiled six new candidates (from top left, clockwise): Mr Abas Kasmani, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Mr Harish Pillay, Dr Tan Meng Wah, Ms Kayla Low and Mr Choo Shaun Ming.

  • Party to contest in West Coast, Tanjong Pagar GRCs, Marymount SMC among others 
  • NUS law undergraduate Choo Shaun Ming, 23, confirmed as a candidate
  • Mr Choo may become youngest candidate to contest in a General Election in over a decade

SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) confirmed that it will run in eight constituencies in the upcoming General Election (GE). 

Party chief Tan Cheng Bock announced this on Tuesday (June 23) as he unveiled six more candidates including a 23-year-old law undergraduate.

The eight constituencies are: West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Chua Chu Kang GRC, Tanjong Pagar GRC, Hong Kah North Single Member Constituency (SMC), Marymount SMC, Pioneer SMC, Yio Chu Kang SMC and Kebun Baru SMC.

Dr Tan told the media on Sunday that Nee Soon was among the constituencies the party was eyeing, but the five-member GRC was left out of the list on Tuesday. PSP had earlier created a Facebook page for Nee Soon and had done walkabouts in the constituency. 

Speaking during a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Dr Tan did not confirm that this was a complete list.

“On Nomination Day, things change. Politics is very fluid,” he said. 

“We will go and study all these places more carefully. The final decision of where we will be going, we will get to know on Nomination Day.” 

The party had earlier this year unveiled plans to contest at 15 constituencies. When asked why the number had narrowed, Dr Tan said that the decision to contest in certain areas is based on “whether we can win or not”. 

“There are certain places that I am quite familiar with — for example, I have been a doctor in the western side of the region (and) I was a Member of Parliament (there),” he said. “So we concentrate on the western side.” 

Dr Tan, who is a former member of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), was the Member of Parliament for the former Ayer Rajah SMC — which was absorbed into West Coast GRC in 2006 — for six consecutive terms.

YOUNGEST CANDIDATE UNVEILED SO FAR 

On Tuesday, PSP introduced six more candidates including 23-year-old third-year National University of Singapore law undergraduate Choo Shaun Ming. 

If his nomination goes through and if no other younger candidate steps up, he will become the youngest candidate to contest in an election in Singapore in more than a decade.

In the past three GEs, the youngest candidates — the Workers’ Party’s Abdul Salim Harun, the National Solidarity Party’s Nicole Seah and independent candidate Han Hui Hui — were all 24 years old when they contested in 2006, 2011 and 2015 respectively.

Dr Tan said that his reply to many individuals who have questioned his decision to field an undergraduate is that he started PSP to “set a stage for those who would be prepared to stand on this stage”. 

Mr Choo, who was seen at PSP walkabouts in Chua Chu Kang GRC over the weekend, said that he stepped forward because he is concerned about job security and satisfaction in the workforce today. 

The Raffles Institution alumnus said that many of his peers or juniors in school believe that existing policies that have worked for their parents, such as the SkillsFuture scheme, will not work for them, and he wants to play a part in securing a “brighter future for millennials”.

“In 1996, (former prime minister) Lee Kuan Yew said, ‘There’s a glorious rainbow that beckons those with the spirit of adventure. To the young and to the not-so-old, I say, look at that horizon, follow that rainbow, go ride it.’ 

“When young people like myself look out into the horizon, we see that the rainbow he spoke of doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. 

Elaborating on his dissatisfaction with SkillsFuture, a movement introduced in 2014 to promote a culture of lifelong learning in Singapore, he said: “It has not met the needs of a rapidly changing world disrupted by new technology.”

Mr Choo believes that Singapore needs “clearer and more realistic” solutions that could possibly tap artificial intelligence and analytics to harness the domestic talent pool.

When he was introduced by PSP as a new face in May, the Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) alumnus said that he managed to skip a level in primary school. Between 2000 and 2013, the Ministry of Education had only granted permission to seven children to do that.

Asked how he intends to juggle both his parliamentary duties and school if he is elected, he said he recognised that law is a rigorous course but he had been able to manage it “quite well”. 

He has classes three to four days a week and on some days, has two hours of school. There is a lot of independent learning involved, he added.

“If I have good time management, I believe I am able to juggle both at the same time,” he said. As a backup plan, he had reached out to the law school, stating that he might consider taking a leave of absence for a period as well.

The five other candidates PSP presented on Tuesday were:

  • Dr Tan Meng Wah, 56, a former research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, a think-tank at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
     
  • Psychiatrist Ang Yong Guan, 65, a former Singaporeans First party chairman and candidate who served 17 years as the Singapore Armed Forces’ chief psychiatrist until 2003
     
  • Mr Harish Pillay, 60, head of community architecture and leadership and chief technology architect at IT firm Red Hat 
     
  • Ms Kayla Low, 43, a chartered accountant who runs a group of 11 Singapore and four overseas companies that deal with retail, manufacturing, transportation and travel
     
  • Mr Abas Kasmani, 67, a senior trainer in workplace safety

They belong to the second batch of six candidates that PSP has introduced so far. The party indicated that it would be announcing its remaining candidates at two more meet-and-greet sessions with the media on June 26 and 29.

A total of 24 candidates would have been introduced if its series of press conferences go according to plan.

Dr Tan Meng Wah, who has done extensive research on income inequality and the Government’s “rent-seeking policies”, said that he will draw on his wealth of research findings to not only actively debate government policies but also offer solutions to address problems of rising income inequality and high housing costs.

He said he had studied a shift in emphasis for Singapore’s economic development from income generation to wealth generation, with the latter benefiting capital and asset owners at the expense of workers and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

“The root of the many problems Singapore faces today is the Government’s increasing focus on extracting rising land value benefiting capital and asset owners rather than on developing the economy for the benefits of the wage-earning masses,” he added. 

Dr Tan Meng Wah is an industry consultant teaching at Nanyang Technological University's Master of Science in Technopreneurship & Innovation programme. 

Related topics

Progress Singapore Party Tan Cheng Bock General Election Singapore General Election SGVotes2020 PSP candidates

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