Singapore—One comment often found on social media these days is that this year’s General Election has a better field of candidates than in the past. It is believed that Singaporean voters this year simply have a higher quality of candidates to choose from based on their education, expertise, and experiences.
Here’s a look at the standouts so far from the Workers’ Party (WP).
Among this year’s group of WP’s new candidates, economist Jamus Lim has emerged as an early favourite, especially after going head to head with PAP stalwart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on the first debate of the Election on July 1.
Professor Lim, who is part of WP’s slate in the new Sengkang GRC, became instantly quotable not only for saying “What we are trying to deny the PAP isn’t a mandate. What we are trying to deny them is a blank cheque,” but for adding, “And that is what I think this election truly is about. So that we can actually have this kind of a debate, not just in a constrained form over a table, but actually in the forum which was designed for this, which is Parliament.”
An associate professor of economics at ESSEC Business School, the candidate is being touted by some online as the Finance Minister they want Singapore to have.
Perhaps even more beloved by Singaporeans on social media sites is Nicole Seah, seen in this election as the underdog bravely going up against Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at East Coast GRC. Ms Seah, a digital manager and a volunteer from her teens, is perceived to represent millennials and the future of Singapore. She first rose to prominence when she contested, at the age of 24, in the 2011 GE, wherein The Straits Times called her a rock star. For the past five years, Ms Seah has been part of WP’s on-ground activities.
Another one to watch among WP’s slate this year is Abdul Shariff Bin Aboo Kassim, Ms Seah’s teammate in the East Coast GRC.
Mr Shariff, a researcher, once disrupted his secondary studies and did factory work, and has also been employed as market shop assistant, security guard, dispatch rider and undertaker, among other jobs. His biography on the WP website also says “Throughout his tertiary studies, he worked as a NightRider bus driver part-time and also a relief taxi driver to pay his expenses.”
His background even inspired its own Reddit thread, with many Redditors contrasting his blue-collar work experience with that of politicians who “parachute” into Singapore’s political arena, with a different definition of “successful” written on their report cards.
One comment said that his wide range of experience gives him an upper hand when it comes to understanding the community perspective, writing: “His various experience(s) in the different jobs will really help him with a wider range of perspectives of the community. Not many people get to have such experience unless they’re being put in a hard circumstance or (are) very willing to take on all (that) work.”
Much attention has also been given to WP’s husband and wife candidates Terence Tan and He Ting Ru, who both have backgrounds in law, and whose educational and work credentials are impressive indeed.
The Cambridge-educated Ms He obtained an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences before reading law. She then trained and qualified as a solicitor of England and Wales, worked in London and Frankfurt, and since 2013, has been the Head of Legal of a listed company with oversight of legal and communications matters throughout Asia, North America, Europe and Africa.
As for Mr Tan, he qualified as a Barrister in England and Wales in 1995, and as an Advocate and Solicitor in Singapore in 1997. He is also an accredited Mediator with the Singapore Mediation Centre. And while Mr Tan mainly works as a lawyer in commercial disputes and was the managing director of a top-tier multinational hotel group, he also represents accused individuals in murder and drug trafficking trials and appeals.
Much to the admiration of many Singaporeans, the husband and wife are contesting for the election while raising two toddler boys. —/TISG
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