SINGAPORE — Sengkang Members of Parliament He Ting Ru, Jamus Lim, Louis Chua and Raeesah Khan have been elected to the Workers’ Party’s central executive committee (CEC), following the party’s elections on Sunday (27 December).
The quartet are among six new members elected to the WP CEC. The remaining two are Nicole Seah and Kenneth Foo, who both contested unsuccessfully in East Coast GRC during the July general election.
Pritam Singh and Sylvia Lim, both MPs for Aljunied GRC, retained their positions as party chief and party chair respectively. Singh’s predecessor Low Thia Khiang and former Hougang MP Png Eng Huat remain on the CEC.
Meanwhile, the six CEC members who have been replaced are: former Aljunied MP Chen Show Mao; former Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh, who stepped down from the CEC in April due to ill health; East Coast candidate Terence Tan; John Yam; and Firuz Khan.
The CEC elections were held at Huone Singapore in Clarke Quay rather than the party HQ in Geylang Road due to the requirements of safe management measures. While the party would not disclose the number of cadres who voted, WP member and former NCMP Yee Jenn Jong had said in his recent book "Journey In Blue: A Peek Into The Workers' Party Of Singapore" that more than 100 party cadres voted in the 2016 CEC elections.
Continuity and renewal
Addressing reporters on Sunday evening, Singh would not be drawn on whether there were any challenges to his and Lim’s positions. He also declined to comment on whether other party members will be co-opted into the CEC.
Given that Singh, Lim and Low all retained their CEC positions, the party chief was asked what this meant for leadership renewal. Singh replied that this showed the party cadres recognise the importance of continuity as well as renewal.
“I also have to thank the cadre membership actually for recognising how important renewal is, while at the same time having to balance this reality that you want a party that is not suddenly in the deep end of the pool. There also has to be a trajectory for renewal.”
He added, “I think it's very important that some of our most experienced members continue to be a central part of the party.”
Noting that the Sengkang quartet’s - three of whom were contesting elections for the first time - status as MPs means they are senior party leaders, Singh said their ascension to the CEC reflects the “burden of leadership”.
The shadow cast by Low
Asked how Low’s role in the party will evolve, Singh said of the 64-year-old, “A large part of the shape of the party has been down to him and his personality, and the character that he infused into the party by example (and) by discipline.”
He added that the party will be tapping on the experience of Low, who was an opposition MP for 29 years. “He has got a rich and long history of political contest in Singapore, what are the realities of an opposition party.”
The WP recently announced that as He and Raeesah will soon be going on maternity leave, party members such as Low will be stepping up to help out the duo with their duties in their respective constituencies.
Singh was also asked about the status of Chen and Goh, who were reportedly absent from Sunday’s conference. Chen launched an unsuccessful bid for the party leadership in 2016 and did not contest the July GE. “Both of them have made their contributions towards the party. We are very grateful for their contributions, and I hope to see them in the next cadre conference,” said the 43-year-old, who noted that the pair are still party members.
At the party’s last CEC elections in 2018, Singh was elected unopposed as the Secretary-General, succeeding Low who had held the post for 17 years. Low said at the time that Singh’s election meant the WP’s leadership renewal was now complete for the current development phase.
Low has since stepped down as a Member of Parliament and did not contest the GE.
Last month, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) also held its CEC elections. In the process, it co-opted four new members, including Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam. The other two are NTUC chief Ng Chee Meng and Victor Lye, who contested unsuccessfully in Sengkang and Aljunied, respectively.
New WP CEC members
The following 12 members were elected to the Workers’ Party Central Executive Committee:
Chair: Sylvia Lim Swee Lian, 55
Secretary-General: Pritam Singh, 44
Chua Kheng Wee Louis, 33
Foo Seck Guan Kenneth, 43
Gerald Giam Yean Song, 43
He Ting Ru, 37
Raeesah Khan, 27
Dr Jamus Jerome Lim, 44
Low Thia Khiang, 64
Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap, 45
Leon Perera, 50
Png Eng Huat, 59
Nicole Rebecca Seah, 34
Dennis Tan Lip Fong, 50
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