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Pritam Singh regrets not being able to hold thank-you lunch for WP volunteers

"But as we all recognise, public health considerations are far more important in the circumstances,” wrote the WP chief

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Singapore—Leader of the Opposition and Workers’ Party (WP) head Mr Pritam Singh took to Facebook on Monday night (Dec 14) to honour one of the WP’s volunteer polling agents, a 71-year-old woman, Madam Leong.

He expressed regret that the party is unable to hold its customary thank-you lunch for its volunteers, given that Singapore is still under restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Singh made mention of the announcement Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier on Monday, that Singapore would enter Phase 3 by Dec 28.

“But even as we welcome Phase 3 at the end of the month as announced by the Prime Minister earlier today, COVID-19 has not allowed the Party to hold our usual thank you lunch for volunteers. It has been a matter of some regret for the Party that we have not been able to do so. But as we all recognise, public health considerations are far more important in the circumstances,” wrote the WP head.

Mr Singh posted a photo of himself with Mdm Leong, who had been to his MPS “to share some of her observations” as a WP volunteer polling agent in East Coast GRC.

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“Polling agents are appointed by the election agents of candidates. Their duty is to ensure that an election is carried out in accordance to the law.”

He added that because of the WP’s small size, the party depends heavily on volunteers such as Mdm Leong.

Additionally, Mr Singh added, “Their participation also helps to demystify the political process and the voting secrecy.”

The WP chief went on to explain that as long as one is a Singaporean citizen, he or she may volunteer as a polling agent. Polling agents also cannot be a primary or secondary school student, an undischarged bankrupt, nor can he or she have had an order of supervision made against him/her under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act.

With these requirements in mind, Mr Singh encouraged more seniors “to follow Mrs Leong’s lead and sign up as polling agents in future!”

He expressed a special thank you to her, as well as “every polling agent who helped us out at GE2020.”

A thank-you lunch for WP’s volunteers would have meant much to the party members, especially perhaps this year, which has been momentous for the WP.

The leading opposition party in Singapore has had a banner year, winning unprecedented gains in July’s General Election, most notably its second Group Representation Constituency in Sengkang. The party now has 10 Members of Parliament, more than it has had in history.

With fresh faces in its lineup in the election as well as digital savvy in an election year where many activities were held online, the WP won the hearts of many young people in Singapore.

In October, London-based political analyst and research manager Loke Hoe Yeong was quoted in the US-based media website OZY as saying, “The ruling PAP has long claimed that majority-Chinese Singapore is not ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister. This General Election has shown that Singaporeans are ‘ready’ for a non-Chinese leader of the opposition, who is technically a prime minister-in-waiting under the Westminster system.”

OZY also quoted research fellow at the International Institute of East Asian Studies in the Netherlands, Ying-Kit Chan, as saying that the youth “appear willing to experiment with a politically pluralistic system and taste a higher degree of freedom, which includes Internet or online speech and expression of views that are critical of the government”. —/TISG

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