SINGAPORE: Two academics are rumoured to be the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) pick to replace former Members of Parliament (MP) Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui at their former wards, close to a year after both politicians resigned due to an affair scandal.

Mr Tan, a former PAP Minister who served as Speaker of Parliament before his resignation, represented the Kembangan-Chai Chee subdivision of Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC), while Ms Cheng served as MP for the Tampines East segment of Tampines GRC.

On Friday (14 June), Lianhe Zaobao reported that Singapore Institute of Technology assistant professor Dr Choo Pei Ling was appointed second adviser to the grassroots organisations designated to Kembangan-Chai Chee.

Dr Choo, part of SIT’s Health and Social Sciences cluster, was announced as a new addition to the Marine Parade grassroots leadership in April by Emeritus Senior Minister and former Marine Parade anchor minister Goh Chok Tong.

Just one day after the Chinese daily’s report involving Dr Choo, Tampines anchor minister Masagos Zulkifli unveiled another academic as a new grassroots leader for the Tampines East ward that remains vacant after Ms Cheng exited politics.

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Mr Masagos revealed at an event on Saturday (15 June) that Nanyang Technological University assistant professor of marketing Charlene Chen has been appointed second adviser to the grassroots organisations in Tampines GRC and will help him to serve Tampines East residents.

Revealing that Prof Chen had volunteered to help him, the Minister said:

“I have… two divisions. It’s very hard to run everything, and it’s not fair for the residents. She said she will help us, and she will be working with me in serving residents in Tampines East.”

Prof Chen was made a member of the Tampines Town Council last month, a week and a half after she had created her first public Facebook page. She has since been regularly updating her page with photos of her outreach efforts in Tampines East.

Months before this, in October last year, she appeared as one of the speakers at a PAP Policy Forum dialogue, advocating for a more engaging and less top-down approach to interacting with young Singaporeans.

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The recent appointments of both Dr Choo and Prof Chen have fueled speculation about their roles in the PAP’s strategic planning for the upcoming elections.

The pair’s academic backgrounds and recent public engagements are seen by observers as potential assets for the PAP as it seeks to rejuvenate its ranks following the fallout of controversies last year.

While the PAP has not confirmed whether the academics will be fielded as candidates in the looming polls, their appearances in the public sphere perhaps hint at their emerging significance in the party’s future political landscape. /TISG