Singapore — The Progress Singapore Party has unveiled its fourth and final batch of six new candidates for the General Election. They were introduced by the PSP Secretary-General, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, in a virtual press conference on Friday (June 26).
They bring the total number of candidates to 24, including Dr Tan.
These six latest candidates are:
- Mr Leong Mun Wai, 60. He is the Assistant Secretary-General of the PSP. Founder of venture capital firm. A former Public Service Commission scholar, Managing Director of OCBC Securities, Director of Merrill Lynch HK and investment officer of GIC.
- Mr Terrence Soon, 29. A pilot with Singapore Airlines (SIA). Previously ran his own business in the private aviation industry.
- Mr Abdul Rahman, 67. With the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1975. Now a Fellow with the Institution of Fire Engineers UK. He is currently working as a consulting engineer specialising in fire and life safety audit and design with Parsons International.
- Ms Kala Manickam, 52. A former platoon commander of the Women Wing in the Singapore Armed Forces. Switched to the private sector and has 30 years of working experience in human resource management and learning development.
- Mr Jeffrey Khoo Poh Ting, 51. The Chief Marketing Officer, APAC for an MNC in the insurance sector. Serves at the National University of Singapore Society as Honorary Treasurer.
- Mr Lim Cher Hong, 42. Was a programme coordinator and trainer for the Silver Generation Office (SGO).
In the Q&A portion of the press conference, the candidates took turns to answer questions posed.
Why PSP is contesting in a large number of seats
In answering a question on why a new party such as PSP was contesting in more seats than other “more experienced” opposition parties such as the Workers’ Party, Mr Leong said that Dr Tan served as the “strong foundation” who had passed on his “experience” and “assets” down to the candidates. He also mentioned how Dr Tan had always wanted to mentor the next generation of politicians and that the PSP would “work hard” towards “becoming the government”.
“That’s why we have announced 23 candidates, we are fielding a larger state of candidates this General Election,” said Mr Leong. It was the PSP’s wish that “all constituencies in Singapore should be contested” to fulfill a “democratic process”.
On increasing fertility rates
To a question posed to Mr Lim on how to increase fertility rates, he stated that the current Baby Bonus Scheme was “not enough to raise a kid” and that “more budget should be given to young families” and rental subsidies should be increased for couples so that “more people can have more BTOs to tie knots earlier”.
On lack of experience to be MP
Regarding concerns that a candidate might lack the experience to be an MP, Mr Soon, the second youngest of PSP candidates at age 29, answered that “age is not a factor” and that many new electorates, including the PAP, have first-time MPs. He also stated that having a mentor such as Dr Tan, who had done it before, was essential to what “makes us great MPs”. Mr Khoo chipped in to add that what was most important was that PSP “come in as a team”.
Ms Kala added that the very important thing as a Member of Parliament was to “serve with your heart”, stating that, with the incumbents, the heart was “missing”.
Mr Leong emphasised that “democracy and politics are about the wisdom of the people” and of “the voters”. “You can’t bluff the electorate,” he said. “You have to believe in the wisdom of the electorate” and that “parliament is a place where legislation is for the population”. He drew attention on having representatives of each generation. A young parliamentarian was thus an asset, not a disadvantage.
On job qualifications
On questions regarding how middle-aged citizens and PMETs could acquire jobs with their qualifications, Mr Khoo felt that many jobs were “taken up by foreign talents”, and the people had to become “Grab drivers”. The PSP hoped to prioritise jobs and put “Singaporeans first”. He also called for a review of CECA, a free-trade agreement between Singapore and India, and to kick-start proper knowledge transfer to Singaporeans. The term “underemployment” was coined to show how middle-aged people have been applying for entry-level jobs that their children could also apply for, and that “it breaks a man, and hurts their dignity”.
On Singapore’s education system
On what policy the candidates would enact if elected, Ms Kala stated that she would like to reform the education system in terms of the teachers and class sizes. She stated how teachers have become more like “administrators” than educators, and that administrative jobs could be “outsourced”. As for class size, she said the current size of 30-34 children was “too big” and that it should be reduced to 15-20. She also hoped that the education system could be more broad, such as by placing more emphasis on the arts, drama and dance, so that children did not have to attend extra classes after school, but would be able to “go and play”.
In terms of adult education, she said learning had to take place in the workplace. PSP hoped that the government, employers and employees could work together to increase competencies in the workplace and make workplace learning the new norm.
Entrepreneurship in Singapore
On a question whether Singaporeans lacked the entrepreneurial spirit and if this could be nurtured, Mr Soon replied that the biggest issue with entrepreneurship was that “people are too afraid to fail”.
Mr Leong said PSP would like to improve the social system in Singapore and that it was currently “too harsh on people”. He felt that the current environment was one where people were only occupied with the next mortgage or next tuition fee. He would like to provide a setting to allow Singaporeans to realise their full potential”. He felt that the environment in Singapore should be one where “small companies can experiment and start to do things”.
The PSP noted that more information on its policy suggestions would be released in its manifesto. /TISG