Singapore—Four new faces stood out at ruling People’s Action Party PAP65 Awards and Convention at the Singapore Expo on Sunday, November 10, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said could be the last time the party activists gather together before the General Election (GE).
At the gathering, which saw an audience of over 2,500 PAP activists, four such activists made speeches regarding trust-building, social mobility, inclusivity, and other related topics.
One speaker was the 40-year-old chairman of the Paya Lebar branch, Alex Yeo Sheng Chye, who is a lawyer.
The Straits Times (ST) quotes him as saying, “As PAP activists on the ground, we just concentrate on continuing to serve them. The most important part of it is that we must convince them that we are here to stay.”
For the past two years, Mr Yeo has been the chairman of the PAP’s Paya Lebar branch within the Aljunied GRC, held by the Workers’ Party.
In his speech, he emphasized how important it is to build trust on the ground, which he says cannot be done overnight. He told members of the media, “Rebuilding trust takes a long, long time.”
The other three new faces are 47-year-old Rachel Ong Sin Yen, a child executive; 41-year-old Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, a polytechnic senior lecturer; and 36-year-old Kawal Pal Singh, who, like Mr Yeo, is also a lawyer.
The media asked the four PAP activists if they would contest in the next election, since it has happened before that those who have spoken at PAP’s gatherings have ended up as candidates on the party’s slates.
But each one replied that the choice of whom to field in the elections is not theirs to decide on.
Ms Ong may be seen as a PAP legacy of sorts, since her uncles and father are also volunteering with the party. She is with the Telok Blangah branch of PAP, and aside from her job as the chief executive of Rohei, a consultancy firm, Ms Ong, runs Trybe, with its three outreach organizations for youths at risk—the Singapore Boys’ Hostel, a Community Rehabilitation Centre for first-time drug abusers, and Trybe Aftercare.
She said, “We work with very marginalised children and the youth. We also work with their parents to help them rehabilitate and become contributing citizens again.”
Kawal Pal Singh is the nephew of former PAP MP Inderjit Singh, and is an overcomer all on his own. His modest educational background did not stop him from pursuing legal studies with evening classes, and then eventually obtaining a law degree at the University of Southampton in Britain.
Of PAP the lawyer says, “I was welcomed (by the party) with open arms…It is important to have a diverse group of volunteers to help diverse people.”
As for Dr Wan Rizal, he talked about how in his early days as a teacher, having amended a handball game in order to include a differently-abled student in a wheelchair inspired him to pursue further studies, to the point that he has already gotten his degree and went on to obtain his doctorate. The ST reports that he has been seen on the ground with Punggol East MP Charles Chong and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari. -/TISG