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SINGAPORE GENERAL ELECTION

GE2015: WP unveils more candidates, reiterates 'responsible opposition' role

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 05:50
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The four faces introduced on Thursday were (from left) Terence Tan, Firuz Khan, Cheryl Denise Loh and Luke Koh. Mr Tan, Ms Loh and Mr Koh have volunteered with the party for a few years.

Singapore

THE Workers' Party (WP) on Thursday presented its second batch of candidates, who, like the group before them, emphasised the party's pledge to be rational and responsible voices of opposition.

The four new faces introduced were sales consultant Cheryl Denise Loh, 31; UK-based chocolate maker Firuz Khan, 48; chief executive of a holding company Luke Koh, 41; and lawyer Terence Tan, 44.

With the exception of Mr Khan, they all started volunteering with the party in the last few years. With them as they faced reporters at the party headquarters were WP chairman Sylvia Lim and Hougang incumbent Png Eng Huat. As was the case on Wednesday, the WP didn't say where these candidates would stand; this will be unveiled only on Nomination Day.

Mr Tan described WP as an opposition party that will channel legitimate concerns. "I really believe that the government has focused a little bit too much on short-term economic gain, without sufficient regard to long-term implications that affect all of us," he said, adding that he didn't want Singapore's children to be seen as mere "economic digits".

The lawyer at Peter Low LLC has been active in the Kaki Bukit area, but has also been on walkabouts in Joo Chiat since around 2013. In this time, he has seen "true servant leadership", he said. "We believe that rational and sensible opposition voices in Parliament will not detract, but complement the government's efforts."

The mantra about being "rational and responsible" opposition has rolled off the tongues of many WP candidates this week. On Wednesday, the party - seeking to dig in its position as the de facto leader in the opposition camp - revealed its campaign theme, "Empower Your Future".

WP's secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, absent from Thursday's meeting, had said on Wednesday that WP's greater presence in Parliament has created a more responsive government, and asked whether political leaders should cast such "a long shadow" over every aspect of life here.

Ms Lim, responding to a query, disagreed that pushing for a more responsive government and calling for a less interventionist government, were contradictory: "Responsiveness is different from infiltrating every aspect of life. We believe very strongly, and we've also seen, that the government does react to the outcome of the elections. They do monitor percentages very closely. So that's one way in which the people are empowered to negotiate with the government."

Ms Loh, who works in a global-services company, said her beliefs are aligned with those of WP. Incidentally, she was Ms Lim's student in the polytechnic 12 years ago. She now wants to champion causes in education. She described her background as humble and "slightly disadvantaged"; she was raised mostly by relatives and got through school with their support and those of her teachers, and by taking up part-time work.

"More assistance could be provided, so as to ensure no young Singaporean is deprived of an education," said the economics and finance graduate from SIM-RMIT.

Mr Khan said his work at a children's home - he was head of Pertapis Children's Home from 1999 to 2001 - opened his eyes to cases of abuse, family violence and poverty.

Mr Koh, a managing partner of a private investment business, cited the "ageing crisis" as his concern, and called the two-child policy a mistake.

WP will introduce more candidates on Friday.

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