Ex-Member of Parliament (MP) Lee Li Lian revealed that she is one of the town councillors at the new Sengkang Town Council, in a recent Facebook post.
Ms Lee, who has a background in finance, joined the Workers’ Party (WP) more than a decade ago and was elected into the WP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) in 2008 after some time volunteering on the ground. She was fielded as a WP candidate for the first time in the 2011 general election and contested Punggol East Single Member Ward (SMC).
Punggol East SMC was freshly carved out of the neighbouring Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC) ahead of the election. The WP’s new candidate faced off with Michael Palmer, a People’s Action Party (PAP) incumbent who had served as one of the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MPs prior to the election.
Ms Lee ultimately lost to Mr Palmer, who was later made Speaker of Parliament, but garnered an impressive 41.01 per cent of votes – a remarkable feat for a fresh face standing in a single member ward.
In December 2012, however, Mr Palmer resigned from his parliamentary posts due to an extra-marital affair with an employee of the People’s Association (PA) and his ward was left vacant.
In the ensuing by-election, Ms Lee was picked as the WP’s choice to contest the ward and she faced a rare four-cornered contest, with new PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon – a colorectal surgeon who had just joined the PAP three months prior – and two other opposition parties joining the fray.
In a historic upset, Ms Lee emerged the victor at the polls with 54.50 per cent of the vote and became Singapore’s first female opposition politician to control a single member ward. The win also marked the second time since 1981 that the WP had captured a parliamentary seat after a by-election.
Ms Lee was fielded to defend her seat in the 2015 General Election, which was held months after Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passed. The PAP fielded six-term MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong in Ms Lee’s ward and the WP was narrowly defeated with 48.24 per cent of the vote compared to the PAP’s 51.76 per cent.
Although Ms Lee was offered a Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) position since she received one of the best scores among opposition candidates who failed to clinch a ward, she declined the offer and the seat went to the WP’s candidate for East Coast GRC, Daniel Goh.
Mr Chong retired from politics ahead of the 2020 general election and the hotly contested Punggol East SMC was absorbed into the new Sengkang GRC. Ms Lee, who had remained an active WP member after the last election, was spotted walking the ground in the ward and was widely expected to be fielded as part of the WP’s team in Sengkang.
Although Ms Lee was prominent in the WP’s pre-election campaign, she ultimately did not contest Sengkang GRC or any other ward. Instead, she helped the WP team contesting in Sengkang – He Ting Ru, Jamus Lim, Raeesah Khan and Louis Chua. Only Ms He had contested an election before – the remaining three Sengkang candidates were new faces.
The WP team faced off with a strong ruling party team that included three political office-holders and one new candidate. The PAP team for Sengkang included Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and labour chief Ng Chee Meng, Senior Minister of State Lam Pin Min and beloved grassroots MP Amrin Amin.
The opposition party pulled off what seemed like an impossible feat at Sengkang when it emerged the victor at the polls, ousting Mr Ng, Mr Lam and Mr Amrin from Parliament. The defeat reportedly put the PAP’s succession plans in disarray since Mr Ng was a prominent fourth-generation minister.
Following the election, the new Sengkang GRC MPs-elect announced that they would be running their own town council (TC) instead of merging with the WP’s Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. The MPs-elect announced that Ms He would chair the new town council.
Ms Lee has since revealed that she will serve as one of the town councillors of the new Sengkang TC. In a recent Facebook post, Ms Lee revealed that she met with her fellow new Sengkang TC town councillors over the weekend.
Sharing a photo of herself holding up a customised face mask a kind supporter gave her as she met with her colleagues, Ms Lee wrote: “Had arranged to meet fellow new Town councillors for the newly formed #sengkang TC. Ahhhh and I was pleasantly surprised to receive this customised face mask from a supporter! What a great start to my #weekend #wpsg #gratitude #thankful”
Had arranged to meet fellow new Town councillors for the newly formed #sengkang TC. Ahhhh and I was pleasantly surprised…