More details about the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) preparations for the next General Election (GE) have emerged, after Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and presumptive future head of Government Heng Swee Keat confirmed in a recent interview that his party has started selecting candidates and begun work on its manifesto.
Although the GE must be held by April 2020, analysts and members of the public alike have speculated that the election may be held as early as this year.
According to the national broadsheet, the PAP has narrowed a list of 200 potential candidates to 50 over the past two years and many potential candidates have been volunteering actively and fielded to serve in PAP branches and in grassroot groups.
Noting that the fourth-generation (4G) leadership is “largely in place,” with 11 4G leaders occupying seats in the 19-member cabinet, the publication cited observers who said that “the PAP’s immediate challenge is to recruit thought leaders and people with private-sector experience to take Singapore forward.”
The ruling party replaces about 25 per cent of its slate during every election period and is reportedly in need of Members of Parliament (MPs) who can relate to the elderly and the working population.
Potential candidates are first invited to attend tea sessions hosted by a minister and a few MPs, in the initial stage of the selection process, before they are invited to individual interviews by a panel of ministers in the later stages of the process. Closer to the GE, individuals who are not already party activists will shadow MPs in their constituency work.
The national broadsheet has revealed that “some names from the public sector – including the military – have surfaced”. It also named Changi Airport Group vice-president Poh Li San and Facebook’s head of trust and safety for South-east Asia Alvin Tan as potential candidates.
Another potential candidate that the publication highlighted is 44-year-old Dr Yap Kwong Weng, the principal adviser at KPMG – one of the “big four” consulting firms.
Dr Yap has apparently been involved in grassroots work at Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam’s Chong Pang ward in Nee Soon GRC, for over a year since last April.
Revealing that he has been volunteering “without any specific consideration of candidature,” Dr Yap told the paper: “I was asked if I would like to serve in the grassroots, given my background – experiences in the energy sector in Myanmar, start-up co-founder role in the travel sector. I said yes.”