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General Election 2025

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Tan Cheng Bock ready to ‘fight’ in next GE; PSP keen to form opposition alliance​

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(From left) The Progress Singapore Party's secretary-general Leong Mun Wai, chairman Tan Cheng Bock and vice-chairman Hazel Poa at a press conference on May 27. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
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Jean Iau

MAY 28, 2023

SINGAPORE – The founder and chairman of the opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Dr Tan Cheng Bock, said at a press conference on Saturday that he is ready to run in the next general election.
“I always say, as long as I am relevant, I’ll be there. I never run away from a fight, and 2025 is a very challenging (fight). I am so far still very, very prepared for 2025,” said the 83-year-old, referring to the next general election (GE) due to be held by November 2025.
Dr Tan has rarely appeared in public since he stepped down as PSP chief in 2021. In 2020, he contested in West Coast GRC and lost to the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) team there with 48.32 per cent of the vote.
Saturday’s press conference, which set out PSP’s directions for the next GE, came after the PSP voted in its new central executive committee (CEC) in March.
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai, 64, was subsequently named the party’s new secretary-general, taking over from Mr Francis Yuen.
Mr Leong, who co-chaired the press conference on Saturday together with Dr Tan and fellow NCMP and PSP vice-chairman Hazel Poa, said the party will “proactively facilitate” the forming of an alliance among the opposition parties, which will help align their election messaging, although no concrete plans have been made.
“As our democracy matures, there’ll be more and more room for diversity of views and opinions. As a result, there’ll be a lot more room for us and (for) more parties,” he said, adding that the PSP will be keen to facilitate closer cooperation among opposition parties.


When asked if the alliance it envisages will include the Workers’ Party (WP), Dr Tan said: “We also must remember that the WP is so much older than us, more than 60 years. We (the PSP) only have four years.
“I think we have to respect the WP.”
During the 2020 General Election, PSP contested in nine constituencies for 24 seats, but failed to win any.

These included four group representation constituencies – West Coast, Nee Soon, Tanjong Pagar and Chua Chu Kang – and five single-member constituencies – Marymount, Hong Kah North, Yio Chu Kang, Kebun Baru and Pioneer.
Mr Leong would not confirm how many seats, or in which constituencies, PSP plans to run in the next GE.
But it will “most probably” contest in the same constituencies, and could also field a similar number of candidates, he said.
He added that much depends on when the election is called, how the boundaries are drawn up, and how many volunteers the party can recruit to support its candidates.
Outlining the PSP’s directions for the next GE, Ms Poa said the party will campaign on bread-and-butter issues such as jobs for Singaporeans and housing affordability, as well as “progress with compassion”.
This includes more “progressive” issues such as freedom of information and diversity, and also social safety nets, she added.

Calling for more opposition voices in Parliament, Mr Leong said that the PAP, by having the supermajority or two-thirds of the seats in the House, finds it easy to “neutralise or even decimate” the opposition.
“But if Singaporeans are willing to accept a slightly less than two-thirds majority PAP government, which is still a strong government by any standard in any democracy, then... I think the 15th Parliament will be very, very interesting,” he said.
The PSP’s goal is to become a political party that Singaporeans want to vote for – not one which they choose out of a process of elimination if they do not like the PAP or the WP, Dr Tan said.
“We are working towards being the party of the first choice by Singaporeans... a party worthy of support. That is the big challenge for us.”
 

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Four opposition parties to form new alliance ahead of the next GE​

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Peoples Voice, Reform Party, People’s Power Party and the Democratic Progressive Party said the new alliance will be called People’s Alliance. PHOTOS: PEOPLES VOICE, REFORM PARTY, PEOPLE'S POWER PARTY, DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY
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Tham Yuen-C
Senior Political Correspondent

June 1, 2023

SINGAPORE - Four opposition parties here have joined hands to form an alliance ahead of the next general election which must be called by November 2025.
Peoples Voice (PV), Reform Party (RP), People’s Power Party (PPP) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said in separate Facebook announcements on Thursday that the new alliance will be called People’s Alliance. Steps are being taken to register the group with the Registry of Societies, the statement added.
Singaporeans have “clamoured for a united opposition to take on the ruling People’s Action Party”, the statement said, adding that the calls have been magnified in recent years amid “the excruciating cost of living, unaffordable property prices or job insecurity, amongst many other grievances”.
“We have heeded the calls of Singaporeans and decided that the time for talking about opposition unity without the formation of an alliance, is long past.”
The group has taken the first formal step and submitted its application to the Registry of Societies on Thursday, said PV secretary-general Lim Tean, who will also be secretary-general of the new alliance.
Speaking to The Straits Times, he said: “We have taken the first step in forging a united opposition. It has been quite a long process but we have achieved it. I hope this will spur our alliance on to form other alliances with other parties, so that a truly united opposition can be forged.”
For now, the group is not in discussion with any other parties, he added.

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) secretary-general Leong Mun Wai, who is a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, had said at a press conference held by his party last week that the PSP will “proactively facilitate” the forming of an alliance among the opposition parties.
Contacted on Thursday, he said the PSP is not in talks with any other opposition party to form an alliance, but added that “opposition parties are moving towards more cooperation, so at the moment we are very supportive of all these initiatives”.
There have been several attempts to form an opposition alliance in the past, with seven opposition parties meeting in 2018 to discuss the matter. This was prompted by the Singapore Democratic Party.
But nothing came of it, and PV, RP, PPP and DPP finally came together earlier this year to iron out an agreement, said Mr Lim.
He added that the parties have agreed on the “most fundamental challenges that face Singapore” and will coalesce around the issues of inflation, affordability of public housing, priority for Singaporeans in jobs, and also immigration.
In the statement the group also said it will contest the next general election under the banner of the alliance, and vie for the seats which the respective parties had contested in for GE 2020.
PPP secretary-general Goh Meng Seng, who will be organising secretary of the alliance, told ST that while there is no telling what will happen in the next election, “we definitely do not want” three-cornered fights.
He added that the alliance will release its manifesto once its registration is confirmed.
Other office bearers in the central executive committee of the alliance, when it is formed, will include RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who will be chairman; PPP member Peter Soh, who will be vice-chairman; and RP head of women’s wing Yasmine Valentina, who will be assistant secretary-general , among others.
 

borom

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Will brother Yang come back to fight for us and test whether he will be given stern warning or something else?
Ridout Shan try to imply he is a fugitive when no warrant was ever issued or his passsport was ever confiscated.
I hope Bock can become President instead of MP so he can ask PAP for more info on Keppel corruption, Ridout, contrarian investments ,HC salary and role of PA, NTUC ect2
 

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Bayi and manap will be thrown under the bus before the elections
They will be disqualified.
goh meng seng's prodigy Nicole seah to the rescue.
 

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Opposition alliance in S’pore: Political reality or pipe dream?​

If history is anything to go by, coming together will be the least challenging part of the new People’s Alliance’s political journey​

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Grace Ho
Deputy News Editor
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Peoples Voice, Reform Party, People’s Power Party and Democratic Progressive Party announced on June 1 they were forming an alliance. PHOTOS: PEOPLES VOICE, REFORM PARTY, PEOPLE'S POWER PARTY, DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY

June 6, 2023

SINGAPORE - On June 1, four opposition parties here – Peoples Voice (PV), Reform Party, People’s Power Party and Democratic Progressive Party – announced they were forming a new People’s Alliance ahead of the next general election, which must be called by November 2025.
This came just days after the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) said at a press conference that it will “proactively facilitate” the forming of an opposition alliance.
But why now, and why the closely timed announcements? Can the parties leverage the new grouping to make electoral inroads?

History of opposition coordination​

Today, opposition parties here largely avoid competing against one another in the same districts. But it wasn’t always like this.
The 1972 General Election was contested by five opposition parties – Barisan Sosialis, Workers’ Party (WP), People’s Front, United National Front and Singapore Malay National Organisation (PKMS). A total of 57 constituencies were up for grabs, with PAP candidates elected unopposed in the other eight.
Intense opposition infighting rattled the public, who voted in favour of the People’s Action Party (PAP). For the second time since independence, PAP made a clean sweep of parliamentary seats.
Since then, to avoid three-cornered fights, opposition parties here have observed an informal rule: If Party A contested in a district against PAP in the previous election, it has first dibs on contesting there in the next election. This is unless Party B can cite strong reasons why it should go first.

The result has been that, leaving aside independent candidates, only an average of 7.2 per cent of contested districts between 1976 and 2020 had more than one opposition candidate in an electoral cycle.
Currently, there are nine WP MPs out of 92 elected MPs, and two PSP Non-Constituency MPs.
In his book Opposing Power: Building Opposition Alliances In Electoral Autocracies, National University of Singapore Assistant Professor Elvin Ong cited an opposition leader as saying: “You start off first with... everybody huffing and puffing themselves up to look bigger than they actually are.

“Then in the end, if we can agree, we agree. If not, three-cornered fight. More often than not, you know someone will blink and then the game of chicken will come to an end.”
Sometimes, though, the game of chicken doesn’t end there.
In the 2015 General Election, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) staked its claim on MacPherson SMC when the ward was split from Marine Parade GRC.
After initially agreeing to cede the ground to WP, NSP later reversed its decision, calling WP “arrogant” and declaring that it would contest there after all.
In the end, the results in MacPherson confirmed the relative strengths of the two opposition parties. WP candidate Bernard Chen earned 33.6 per cent of the vote share there, while NSP candidate Cheo Chai Chen polled less than 1 per cent.
“The NSP wasted precious time and resources contesting in MacPherson SMC, including the candidate’s ($14,500) election deposit,” wrote Prof Ong.

The last opposition alliance – the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) led by veteran opposition MP Chiam See Tong – was formed in 2001, and contested in the 2001 and 2006 elections.
NSP and the Singapore People’s Party left SDA in 2007 and 2011, respectively. While the alliance continued to contest in elections from 2011 to 2020, it did not win any seats and eventually unravelled.
More recently, in 2018, seven opposition parties met to discuss joining forces, prompted by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
There was talk of former PAP MP and presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock, now PSP chairman, becoming their leader. But nothing came of it.
After PSP was set up in 2019, it did not even go into a limited coalition with, say, the SDP and PV to fight GE2020, despite the swirl of online rumours suggesting that such a coalition would emerge.
“One can only infer that, as Tan Cheng Bock failed to get a pact with the WP – the only first-rank alternative party – he was not keen on any pact with lesser parties,” wrote political observer Derek da Cunha in his book Breakthrough 2.0: Singaporeans Push For Parliamentary Democracy.

Reasons for an alliance​

The new alliance comes with several advantages: less fragmentation, pooling of resources, greater public visibility, and unity in messaging.
Put bluntly, the coming together of the four parties is about political survival, said Singapore Management University (SMU) Associate Professor of Law Eugene Tan: “Ensuring no three-way fights is integral to survival, as the likes of WP and PSP seek to contest in more seats.”
Prof Ong sounded a similar note, saying that it allows them to stake an early claim to electoral districts where they have contested before.
Dr Felix Tan, a political analyst at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), said the four parties may have been worried that PSP candidates in the upcoming election would draw away support from among their own members and supporters.
This might have led to them announcing an alliance to prevent the shifting of allegiance, he said.
But, as seen from SDA’s example, coming together may be the least challenging part of the new alliance’s political journey.
SMU’s Prof Tan said working together and putting aside each party’s interests, and managing the various political personalities’ ambitions and egos, will be critical if the alliance is going to be greater than the sum of its parts.
“The litmus test for now is whether the alliance is of convenience and expediency, or of substance. I don’t see the mere forming of an alliance as moving the needle on their electability,” he said.

The challenges​

In Singapore’s context, there are three specific hurdles to forming a successful alliance.
First, opposition parties cannot confirm their district allocation until the exact boundaries of constituencies are released in the report by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee.
If the electoral boundaries of districts they previously contested are changed, the informal “first dibs” rule may be upended.
Newly formed electoral districts also create uncertainty over each party’s relative popularity and chances of success in those districts, making consensus difficult.
Second, Section 27A 3(a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act states that candidates contesting in a group representation constituency (GRC) must be members from the same political party.
In other words, going by Singapore’s electoral rules, a “true” alliance is not possible unless one is talking about forming a brand-new opposition party.
Third, forming an alliance substantively means giving up one’s existing party vehicles or labels.
This is of little cost to small parties with less brand recognition – the four parties in question – but of great cost to the larger opposition parties with established brands.
“For the PSP to actually implement joining such an alliance, (PSP secretary-general) Leong Mun Wai must quit the PSP and join the People’s Alliance. (WP chief and Leader of the Opposition) Pritam Singh must also quit the WP and join the alliance. Will they do that? Of course not,” said Prof Ong.
“In fact, any talk by Mr Leong about an opposition alliance should be better interpreted as asking... leaders from smaller parties to quit their respective parties, and join the PSP instead.”

Can the alliance succeed?​

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(Clockwise from top left) Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party, Mr Lim Tean of Peoples Voice, Mr Mohamad Hamim Aliyas of the Democratic Progressive Party and Mr Goh Meng Seng of the People's Power Party. PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, PEOPLES VOICE, ST FILE
Whether the new alliance will succeed depends on many factors, including how and where it places its candidates, its policy proposals, and how cohesively it campaigns.
One option is to place each of the four parties’ most prominent leaders – Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Mr Lim Tean, Mr Goh Meng Seng and Mr Mohamad Hamim Aliyas – in the same team to contest a GRC under the People’s Alliance banner.
“Theoretically, voters in a GRC might perceive this group of prominent leaders to be more credible than a group of relatively less well-known candidates,” said Prof Ong. He stressed that whether this will pan out in reality is anyone’s guess.
In terms of policy proposals, the new alliance has hinted that it will campaign on housing affordability, immigration, job security, and the cost of living.
These are perennial issues in electoral politics here. But whether the alliance can convince voters depends on the details of its proposals, and Singaporeans’ confidence in its ability to carry them out.
More fundamentally, the new entity has to be clear on its objectives.
If it merely came into being for tactical reasons so that it might have some clout with other parties, then it might not work out, said political observer Derek da Cunha.
To stand a chance of winning, he said any challenger to PAP has to check all these boxes:
  • Party branding that can easily be identified in a positive way by voters
  • Having plenty of materiel and manpower resources, including funds to run a viable election campaign, and hundreds of volunteers
  • Candidates with above-average credentials
  • Careful positioning, so that voters do not perceive an entity that is too far off the political centre
NTU’s Dr Tan has two additional pieces of advice for the new alliance: Avoid pandering to populist demands, and “be present”.
“We have seen how some of the opposition candidates in the last GE were rather lacklustre, or simply did not make any attempt whatsoever to present themselves to the public on other platforms and means – despite the fact that it was conducted during a pandemic, and there were restrictions to physical appearances,” he said.

Long road ahead​

Without WP or PSP joining it, SMU’s Prof Tan thinks the electoral impact of this new alliance is likely to be negligible.
But what happens next matters, too.
Will the fact that there is now an alliance boost its attractiveness to larger parties like PSP? Will it eventually become part of a PSP-led alliance?
What is clear is that today, this fledgling political union is nowhere near what is commonly understood as a coalition – where parties negotiate an agreement among themselves to form a government, and codify their shared goals and political philosophies.
“In Singapore, without the WP and PSP, it is obvious that we are nowhere near a pre-election coalition,” said Prof Ong, who made a distinction between pre- and post-election coalitions.
He cited Malaysia as an example of a country which has had both, the latest being its post-election coalition government formed in December 2022.
But hypothetically, there could be a scenario where opposition parties deny PAP an outright majority, he said.
“We might see a hung Parliament (like in Malaysia and Thailand), which then leads to post-electoral coalition government negotiations. Such a scenario is not unimaginable.”
There is also the question of policy and political positioning.
These small parties will need to be a lot more active in between elections, as no one knows their positions on key issues of the day, said SMU’s Prof Tan.
“It’s too easy to critique government policies, but winning people over with their policy proposals requires a lot of hard work, nuanced understanding of issues, and expertise.”
NTU’s Dr Tan said more opposition does not mean more choices. Rather, Singaporeans may simply vote for those whom they are familiar with, and who have shown what they are capable of.
For now, WP does not seem to be keen on leading or joining any alliance, as it is unlikely any opposition party will add to WP’s heft.
There are few incentives for WP, or even PSP and SDP, to sacrifice what they have achieved to join any alliance, which may diminish their ability to get across their own message and campaign promises, said Dr Tan.
In the end, history has shown that groups which come together quickly can also fall apart quickly, due to differences over political vision and individual ambitions.
So, even as the opposition here makes its stand against the government of the day, it cannot afford to ignore what may well be its biggest challenge of all – the one that comes from within.
 

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Tan Cheng Bock may run in next GE, hopes Iswaran’s departure helps PSP win West Coast GRC​

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Dr Tan Cheng Bock, 83, had led the PSP in West Coast GRC in 2020, and narrowly lost to the PAP team, led by former transport minister, S. Iswaran. PHOTO: ST FILE
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Jean Iau
Correspondent

Jan 26, 2024

SINGAPORE - Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chairman Tan Cheng Bock said he may run in West Coast GRC in the next general election.
And he hoped the departure of former transport minister, S. Iswaran, who faces 27 charges in a corruption case against him, would help the PSP’s chances.
Dr Tan, 83, had led the PSP in West Coast GRC in 2020, and narrowly lost to the People’s Action Party (PAP) team, led by Iswaran, which secured the five-member constituency with 51.68 per cent of the vote.
It was the PAP’s narrowest win during the 2020 General Election.
Iswaran was an MP in West Coast GRC since 1997 before he resigned in a letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Jan 16. He was charged on Jan 18.
After a walkabout on Jan 27 at West Coast Market Square, Dr Tan told the media: “If you believe in active ageing, I shouldn’t retire, right? Because if you all think that age is not a problem, I’ll be around.”
Pressed again if he plans to run in the next election, which must be held by November 2025, Dr Tan said: “I never say no.”

Asked whether Iswaran’s departure from the GRC presented an opportunity for his party, Dr Tan said the PSP had been working the ground since the 2020 General Election before the corruption probe against Iswaran surfaced in July 2023, and it would continue to do so.
Dr Tan said: “Of course, we hope that will help us, but I think it all depends on the electorate. How we perform and now we have a (presence in) Parliament for them to assess us.”
PSP’s vice-chairman, Ms Hazel Poa, acknowledged there had been talk of Iswaran’s criminal case working in favour for the PSP, but it would be a mistake for them to believe so.

Ms Poa, who is a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, said: “In elections, there are many, many factors affecting the results. And it will be complacent for us to actually think that just because of this one incident, we will get a better chance at getting into Parliament.”
She added much depends on what the PAP does and who they send in to replace Iswaran.
In a nod to Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s East Coast Plan during the 2020 General Election, she said: “They might come up with the West Coast plan.”
Volunteers from the PAP’s West Coast Branch were also spotted at the hawker centre on Jan 27, including acting branch chairman, Ms Chua Wei-Shan, whom Dr Tan said he exchanged pleasantries with.
PSP’s secretary-general, Mr Leong Mun Wai, told the media the party would ramp up walkabouts and house visits to West Coast GRC from monthly to weekly.
Mr Leong said the goal was to convince residents to trust his party to run the town council better than the incumbent.
He said: “At the national level, we are able to bring up policies that will improve their lives in general. I think that is the most important, whether we are credible enough to have gained their trust.”
Dr Tan was also asked if he regretted supporting presidential candidate, Mr Tan Kin Lian, during the 2023 Presidential Elections in a personal capacity.
Mr Tan Kin Lian finished last, winning 13.87 per cent of the votes, compared to President Tharman Shanmugratnam’s landslide 70.4 per cent. Mr Ng Kok Song came in second with 15.72 per cent.
Dr Tan said: “I think it is a principle involved. I wanted somebody who is independent, who is not linked to a political party, and that to me is very important.
“Or else, it’s just a repeat every year, the same group of people running the country.”
 

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50,000 public servants appointed as election officials, training to begin in April: ELD​

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Staff from various ministries and statutory boards had over the past week been notified of upcoming election duties. PHOTO: ST FILE
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Goh Yan Han
Political Correspondent
UPDATED

MAR 08, 2024

SINGAPORE - About 50,000 public servants have been appointed as election officials, the Elections Department (ELD) said on March 8.
“Training for election officials will commence in April 2024,” an ELD spokesman said in response to queries. “All public officers who are appointed as election officials will be required to undergo training to ensure they are equipped to perform their duties effectively.”
Checks by The Straits Times showed that staff from various ministries and statutory boards such as the Ministry of Law, Ministry of Communications and Information, National Parks Board (NParks) and school teachers had over the past week been notified of upcoming election duties.
Some public servants received their e-mail appointment as early as Feb 29 and as recently as March 8, they told ST on condition of anonymity.
One teacher, who was deployed in the 2023 presidential election, received her notice on March 3. The e-mail contained instructions to log in to a website for election officials with her Singpass, so as to complete the onboarding process.
It also said she had been assigned mobile election training modules on the website.
Public servants who are deployed in an election can be assigned to one of several roles. These include counting assistants, presiding officers, senior presiding officers, assistant returning officers or senior assistant returning officers.

A large number will become presiding officers, who are stationed at polling stations to usher and register voters.
A new round of election official training should not be viewed as a sign that an election is imminent, given the lengthy gap between the two in past elections.
Public servants were called up for training about 31 months before the 2011 general election, while the timeframe was about 11 months for GE2015. For GE2020, officers were notified of their election duties in July 2018, about 24 months before Singaporeans went to the polls.


ELD’s spokesman said on March 8 that public officers are appointed and trained on an ongoing basis to perform election duties, to prepare the public service to conduct elections in Singapore.
Past election training have included e-learning, classroom workshops and simulated exercises on nomination, polling and counting processes, though this varied depending on one’s assigned role.
A veteran public servant who was deployed in the 2023 presidential election and 2015 general election recounted how her training in the lead-up to the presidential election took place entirely online, and consisted of a long deck of slides and videos detailing the different roles and responsibilities of officials.
But she was aware of others who had to attend face-to-face training. In 2015, the training was held in-person at the Elections Department premises, she said.
An increasing number of public servants have been called up for election duty over the years. This is as the number of polling stations has risen to ensure smoother queues and shorter waits to cast one’s ballot.

About 20,000 public servants were called up ahead of the 2006 general election. For GE2011, about 28,000 were called up, while for GE2015 and GE2020, some 30,000 public servants were notified. About 36,000 were deployed in the 2023 presidential election.
Ground chatter about when the next election will take place has been perked by Budget 2024, which saw the Government disburse a mix of cash, vouchers and rebates to Singaporeans under a $1.9 billion boost to the Assurance Package.
This included extending the popular Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers scheme for another year, with households to get an additional $600 in vouchers by January 2025.
The next general election has to be called no later than November 2025, but there are signs of political activities being ramped up on the ground.
Several potential new faces from the People’s Action Party and Workers’ Party have been spotted out and about, while parties such as the Progress Singapore Party and Singapore Democratic Party have been holding walkabouts.
The lead-up to an election will see voter rolls, which contain the names of all Singaporean citizens eligible to vote in that election, be updated. An Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) will also be convened and tasked with reviewing the boundaries of the existing electoral divisions.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question on Feb 6, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said the EBRC has not been convened.
 

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With Budget 2024, is the PAP gearing up for a GE this year?​

Even with a comprehensive set of measures to uplift Singaporeans, the Government still has unfinished business to attend to before it decides to call an election.​

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Eugene KB Tan
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The Forward Singapore roadmap set out by the 4G leadership forms the backbone of Budget 2024. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

FEB 21, 2024

2024 marks an unbroken run of 65 years since the People’s Action Party (PAP) took the reins of power in 1959.
At the threshold of a generational change in its top leadership, the fourth-generation (4G) leaders must earn the trust and confidence of Singaporeans and demonstrate that it is equal to the task of leading Singapore in a more challenging era.
In this context, it is perhaps not surprising that the 2024 Budget is widely seen as setting the stage for a general election later this year, after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong passes the baton to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.
The Forward Singapore road map set out by the 4G leadership forms the backbone of Budget 2024, which is positioned as the first instalment of remaking Singapore’s social compact.
The Budget displays an adroit marshalling of policy nous in a changing environment with technocratic craft in deploying fiscal resources towards socio-political objectives that the Forward Singapore exercise identified as critical moves. In truth, no one expects anything less from the government.
There is much to commend in the measures that have been announced. In particular, the theme of assurance is writ large in the Government’s fiscal policy for the upcoming financial year. It seeks to reassure Singaporeans by conscientiously addressing people’s immediate, top-of-mind concerns and pain points such as rising costs of living, inflation and job insecurity.
This Budget is also targeted at over-the-horizon concerns such as employability with measures to incentivise and support reskilling and upskilling, and retirement adequacy with changes to the Central Provident Fund system.

Political nature of Budgets​

To be sure, every Budget is inherently political. The Government’s overarching fiscal policy must be geared towards fulfilling its electoral promises to the people.
A Budget should renew the trust and confidence of the electorate that the government has not fallen short and is doing right by the people. It would be naive, even foolish, for any government of the day not to approach the Budget as a means of building trust and confidence in it.
However, it would be a mistake to infer from Budget 2024’s cash handouts and “something for everyone” that the Government is sweetening the ground before going to the polls. In fact, based on the long-term nature of the measures announced, it seems the Government is keeping its powder dry, which gives it some leeway to provide for other measures in what remains of its term. And I don’t see the PAP Government being unduly hasty.


Many polycentric considerations go into the ruling party’s thinking on when would be most advantageous for it to seek a fresh mandate. These include the state of the economy, people’s sense of well-being, the geopolitical environment, how ready the opposition is, as well as the ruling party’s own preparedness for electoral battle. 2025 also marks Singapore’s 60th year of independence, another milestone in the nation-building journey.
How Singaporeans welcome the Budget is but one of several considerations. Besides, the Singaporean electorate is a savvy one and has time and again shown that it is not so easily swayed by Budget sweeteners.


Where the Government’s agenda of action is concerned, as laid out in the President’s Address at the opening of the second session of the 14th Parliament last April, it has its work cut out as unfinished business remains.
For instance, after several major moves following the pandemic-induced construction slowdown, the quest to ensure that public housing is affordable and accessible for Singaporeans remains an abiding policy imperative.
With close to 100,000 private and public homes expected to be completed between 2023 and 2025, some more time is needed for these moves to be felt on the ground, especially when young married couples and families with children move into their first homes.
Then there is also the massive task of persuading and securing the buy-in from stakeholders for the comprehensive measures to renew the social compact. Besides resolute government action signalled in the Budget, there is still the need to strengthen the collective responsibility in shaping the social compact such as reinforcing individual and family efforts and catalysing contributions from other stakeholders.
Otherwise, more government action might contribute to a debilitating dependency and a sense of misplaced entitlement would arise. Put simply, these will require time and effort.
Hence, Budget 2024 is by no means a clear signal that voters will be asked to give a firm electoral mandate to the PAP later this year. But the Budget is intimately connected with the next and future general elections.
The 4G leadership is demonstrating that it is more than equal to the task of leading Singapore in an uncertain era.
If Budget 2024 is any indication to go by, this and future instalments of remaking the social compact, which will cost about $40 billion in total by the end of this decade, can be expected to be innovative and bold. Moreover, Budget 2024 is about growing Singaporeans’ trust and confidence in the 4G leadership but, more importantly, in the country’s future as it navigates intense economic competition, volatile geopolitical conditions and challenging demographics.
In that light, the PAP Government will likely take a steady and patient approach as the 4G leadership gradually draws open the curtains on its new vision for a stronger and more united nation.
But even with these assurances of building a shared future through a comprehensive road map, we know that an election is ultimately decided at the ballot box.
At the July 2020 General Election, amid the “crisis of a generation” brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, voters did not demonstrate the expected “flight to safety” behaviour. Instead, the opposition, in particular the Workers’ Party, turned in its best performance ever, winning 10 parliamentary seats.
So beyond setting forth its vision, the 4G leadership would be expected to recognise that it needs to generate wind in its electoral sails as the clock runs down on its term. Budget 2024 is thus one of a few more steps to reinforce the 4G leadership credentials and the form and substance of its governance style.

Building on Budget 2024​

With time being of the essence, as the election must be held by November 2025, the PAP must make the most of what remains of the current parliamentary term to improve on the report card it will bring to Singaporeans.
The second instalment of bold moves needed to make Singapore relevant to Singaporeans will likely be announced in Budget 2025, with a soft launch possibly at the National Day Rally this August. While remaking the social compact doesn’t just happen in one or two Budgets, next year’s Budget will play a crucial role.
It will likely focus on strengthening our multiracialism and distinctive Singaporean identity and creating more avenues for civic participation – both fall under the “doing our part as one united people” policy shift. Of significance would be the issue of re-employment support, known as “unemployment benefits” in other countries. Such a measure to help the involuntarily unemployed is unprecedented here and will have to be carefully crafted to avoid moral and other hazards that can erode the work ethic and create other social issues.
But it’s a question of when and how, rather than whether there will be re-employment support. DPM Wong indicated that details of the scheme can be expected later this year. It may well be that such a measure, among others, could be part of the PAP election manifesto.
Detailing the second instalment in Budget 2025 can reinforce the 4G leadership ethos and governance, reflecting change amid continuity and the willingness to depart from established policies and practice and break new ground when the situation calls for it. It also demonstrates the political determination to remake Singapore society, one that will ensure Singapore remains a high trust society and a land of opportunity.
For now and for the 4G leadership, it’s about winning the hearts and minds of Singaporeans by convincing them of their road map and reassuring them about Singapore’s future. The election can wait.
  • Eugene K.B. Tan is associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University and a former Nominated Member of Parliament.
 

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Will you be my MP? PAP, WP unveil new faces, recruit potential candidates ahead of next GE​

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Political parties are ramping up their activities ahead of the next election, which is due to be called by November 2025. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Goh Yan Han, Jean Iau and Tham Yuen-C

NOV 03, 2023

SINGAPORE - Recent movements – some announced and others happening under the radar – have raised political eyebrows and stirred chatter.
In the last fortnight, two new faces have been unveiled by the People’s Action Party (PAP), to replace the respective branch chairmen in Sengkang and Hougang.
On the opposition front, two groups of smaller political parties have, within the last few months, announced plans to work together in the next general election, due to be called by November 2025.
The moves indicate a growing buzz in the political sphere, as parties slowly and steadily ramp up their activities ahead of the next polls.
The Workers’ Party (WP) leadership will be at a tea session organised by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council on Saturday and the biennial PAP party convention is slated to take place on Sunday, adding to a calendar already filling up with political happenings.
One of the key questions ahead of the next general election is whether Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will hand over the reins to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong before the hustings.
At the National Day Rally in August, PM Lee had said that succession plans – which had been disrupted because of the Covid-19 pandemic – were “back on track”.

And while the political space has been plagued by recent controversies – such as an affair between former Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and former Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui, and a corruption probe into the Transport Minister – these would not further delay the timetable for political renewal, PM Lee said.
DPM Wong and his fourth-generation team have also marked a significant milestone, having recently concluded a nationwide engagement exercise, Forward Singapore, after 16 months of dialogue with more than 200,000 Singaporeans.
The report, made public last week, lays out plans to take Singapore forward, and assures Singaporeans that they will be supported at every stage in life.

For those who are conscientiously reading the tea leaves, these moves, among others, will play a part in whether they think the next election will be in 2024 or 2025 – both still valid options in play.

The new faces​

Several have already been officially cast into the spotlight, while others have been spotted by The Straits Times over the past several months.
Whether they will eventually contest the election remains to be seen, dependent on factors such as their suitability and affinity with residents.
From the PAP, these include Mr Jackson Lam. On Oct 17, it was announced that he would take over as branch chairman in Hougang from Mr Lee Hong Chuang.


About a week later, the PAP announced that Mr Marcus Loh would replace Mr Ling Weihong in Sengkang East from Nov 1.


Other faces include Ms Chua Wei-Shan, Dr Hamid Razak, Mr Edmund Twohill and Mr Kawal Pal Singh, who have been seen at grassroots events, and pictured alongside MPs on social media.
Their backgrounds and experiences differ.
Mr Lam, 38 and married with two children, is currently assistant director at the operations and mobilisation division at the National Trades Union Congress, and also the principal industrial relations officer at the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union.
He has been a party activist in the Chong Pang division of Nee Soon GRC since 2013 and was branch secretary for about six years.
On the PAP’s website, it states that he has a passion for caring for seniors and underprivileged youth, following his own turbulent teenage years.
Mr Loh, 40, joined the PAP in 2015 and began volunteering with Speaker of Parliament Seah Kian Peng in Braddell Heights under Marine Parade GRC. He has since been involved in the PAP Policy Forum and also the PAP HQ South-east District.
He told ST that he trusts the party will announce its slate of candidates for the next general election when ready, when asked if he would run if the party asked him to.
“Right now, my focus is on serving the residents in Sengkang East as a member of Dr Lam Pin Min’s Sengkang GRC team, rendering assistance to those in need and, most importantly, reassuring them that no matter how difficult their circumstances are, they are not alone in their journey,” he said.
On why he wanted to volunteer, Mr Loh, who is married with one child, said finding the most impactful ways to improve people’s lives motivates him.
In his work at Temus, a digital transformation services company, he has seen first-hand how people’s lives can be improved when given opportunities to succeed and when equipped with the needed skills, irrespective of their starting points in life or level of education.
“This is the kind of Singapore I want to help build... I would like to contribute my experiences and skills to benefit fellow Singaporeans,” he said.
Ms Chua, who is married with two young children, has been active in West Coast GRC and has been the acting branch chairman in West Coast in Transport Minister S. Iswaran’s absence.
She has been involved in Young PAP and was spotted at several grassroots events and house visits with Minister for National Development and West Coast GRC MP Desmond Lee.
She did not reply to ST queries.
Dr Hamid, an orthopaedic surgeon at Sengkang General Hospital, has been active in Jurong.
One recent event he attended after taking on the role of the second adviser to Jurong Spring grassroots organisations several months ago was the neighbourhood’s Halloween Fright Night, which Jurong GRC MP Shawn Huang also attended.
In the past, Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo and Nee Soon GRC MP Carrie Tan had also been second advisers to grassroots organisations before they stood for election, reported Lianhe Zaobao in October.
A football enthusiast according to his LinkedIn profile, Dr Hamid has been actively posting on Facebook, and has been seen conducting house visits without the accompaniment of another MP.
He did not reply to ST queries either.
Both Ms Chua and Dr Hamid are expected to speak at the PAP’s party convention on Sunday. In the past, relatively unknown faces who have given speeches at the event have gone on to become potential candidates.
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The People’s Action Party’s new faces include (from left) Ms Chua Wei-Shan, Dr Hamid Razak and Mr Kawal Pal Singh. PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN, NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL, LIANHE ZAOBAO
Mr Twohill, 39, has recently been spotted on the ground in Moulmein-Cairnhill, serving the residents there under the guidance of Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan.
A former Singapore Armed Forces regular, Mr Twohill wrote an essay in 2019 addressed to his two young children on why he left the force to pursue a career at a local bank looking into digital products. He currently has four children aged one to 10.
Mr Twohill, who works at DBS Bank, was also spotted at a Well-being Circles booth at a volunteer fair held at Cairnhill Community Club in end-September. He did not comment when contacted by ST.
Mr Singh, while not as new a name as the others – he first emerged as a new face in 2019 when he spoke at the party convention that year – has been seen in Sengkang as well.
The 40-year-old partner at law firm Tito Isaac & Co has gone on house visits with Dr Lam Pin Min, who heads PAP’s Sengkang slate.
He is also the nephew of former PAP MP Inderjit Singh, who retired as an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC before the 2015 General Election.
Mr Kawal Pal Singh, who is married with two daughters aged eight and 10, told ST that he started volunteering with the party in 2016, helping the MP in the area where he lives.
“Some time in 2021, my friends from the PAP invited me to join them and serve in Sengkang West under the leadership of Dr Lam,” he said.
Before joining the party, Mr Singh said he had been an active volunteer in the Sikh community since he was a teenager.
“As such, volunteering and contributing to society has become part of my life and I enjoy doing it. My fellow activists and I try to make time to support Dr Lam and his initiatives in Sengkang West as much as possible,” he added.
A PAP spokeswoman said the party constantly recruits talented and committed men and women for its 93 branches.
“Of those who eventually take on branch leadership roles, some may become candidates in general elections. This is part and parcel of the party’s approach towards renewal,” she said.
The PAP replaces about a quarter of its slate at every general election. There were 24 new candidates each in 2011 and 2015, while 27 new candidates contested 93 available seats in 2020, the largest crop of new faces the PAP had ever fielded in an election.
On the two recent PAP announcements of changes in branch chairmen, Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan noted that these were part of the usual process of priming for the general election. Such public announcements from the PAP tend to be more forthcoming in WP wards, he said.
It is not unusual to try a different person after two general elections, he added, pointing out that former Hougang branch chairman Lee Hong Chuang had unsuccessfully contested twice.
“The task for Mr Lam is certainly an uphill one, as it was for his predecessors, but the PAP will continue to try to win back the SMC,” he said.
On the change from Mr Ling to Mr Loh in Sengkang East, Professor Tan said it may be an attempt to find a new candidate and a branch chairman that voters have more affinity with.
He added that it is clear the ruling party’s strategy in Sengkang is to field candidates aligned with the demographic profile of voters there, who are in their 30s and parents of young children.
On the opposition front, senior counsel Harpreet Singh Nehal is said to have joined the WP and has been spotted with party leaders at walkabouts and house visits.
Speculation about him joining the party first surfaced in 2012, but he denied this in a Shin Min Daily News article then.
In recent months, he has been seen donning the WP’s signature light-blue logo tee, which is given only to party members, as he sells the party’s Hammer newspaper at hawker centres and town centres alongside other party members.
Mr Singh, 57, is a co-managing partner of Audent Chambers, a boutique law firm he established in 2019.
The WP declined to comment about its recruitment processes and new faces, and Mr Singh did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.
Another of the party’s potential new faces is lawyer Ang Boon Yaw, who was elected to the party’s top decision-making body in 2022.
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Senior counsel Harpreet Singh Nehal (left) and lawyer Ang Boon Yaw are among the Workers’ Party’s potential new faces. PHOTOS: THE WORKERS’ PARTY
Past iterations of the central executive committee have comprised largely party members who had either contested an election before or went on to contest in one.
Mr Ang, 41, is one of the party’s three deputy organising secretaries. He declined to comment for this article.
According to the WP’s website, he started volunteering with the party in 2012, helping out at former Aljunied MP Chen Show Mao’s Meet-the-People sessions.
“Rather than sitting back and hoping for things to happen, I prefer to be on the side that works to make things happen,” he said on the website.
A senior associate with Yeo Marini Law Corporation, Mr Ang is regularly seen at the WP’s Hammer newspaper sales and also goes on house visits in East Coast GRC, with some of the party’s 2020 candidates for the constituency.
Red Dot United secretary-general Ravi Philemon told ST the party had shortlisted five potential candidates who had not run in an election before and is assessing a few others. He did not name them.
The party fielded five candidates in General Election 2020, contesting in Jurong GRC. The party hopes to field 12 to 15 candidates in the next general election.
Mr Philemon said the background of these potential candidates varies from businessmen to civil engineers to undergraduates.
The party set up a candidate selection sub-committee in July 2022 and asked applicants to disclose financial embarrassments, police cases, court actions and personal indiscretions.
They have to submit an essay, undergo an interview and be evaluated while they work the ground before they are selected.
Recruitment is not without its challenges. Mr Philemon said: “It centres on fears about opportunity costs and risks associated with standing as a candidate of an opposition party, as it may impact their lives and livelihoods.”

Tough to recruit new candidates​

The hunt for new candidates is likely to be increasingly difficult for all parties, political observers told ST.
Dr Gillian Koh, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, said it is hard for anyone of standing to consider running in an election, especially if they are already in leadership positions in their careers.
“It would be harder still to expect younger Singaporeans who are rising stars in their field to go into politics if it means setting aside their current trajectory for power, impact and rewards through positions they have yet to reach,” said Dr Koh.
Other considerations are the loss of privacy, the time commitment for family, and how it is often a thankless task, she added.
Dr Koh noted that during the Ridout Road incident, MPs spoke about the need to maintain high standards of integrity and excellence among political leaders “even when no one is looking”.
“While we might expect no less, the episode makes it all the more intimidating to put oneself forward for public service. One has to be prepared for private and personal decisions to be open to public scrutiny, and even wild allegations will need to be responded to through elaborate forms of accountability,” she said.
This reduces the sense of autonomy and agency that leaders in other spheres relish even as they act with honesty, and only the brave few would want to make the leap, she added.
Prof Tan concurred and said that more so for the ruling party MPs, there is a perception that being an elected politician entails giving up significantly on personal and family privacy.
“This ‘living in a fish bowl’ attribute is not everyone’s cup of tea,” he said, noting there are also increasingly more avenues to contribute to society without stepping into politics.
Public scrutiny has increased in recent years, with social media allowing for things to spread and amplify very quickly, said Mr Inderjit Singh, the former PAP MP who retired from politics before the 2015 General Election.
He added that this sometimes affects family members and some people may shun joining politics. “This is a worrying trend and I fear we may not be able to attract the right type of candidates in the long run,” he told ST.

Other issues that may make it difficult for the PAP to recruit include the troubles it faced in 2023 with the various incidents that may have “chipped off some shine on the brand” regardless of the facts, outcomes and explanations by the party leadership, said Dr Koh.
There is also greater political pluralism in Singapore today, a reflection of the more varied social conditions that Singaporeans face.
“This opens up the market for people of different ideological orientations to seek platforms to address those issues,” Dr Koh said.
Prof Tan added that there is an expectation among younger segments of the electorate for the WP, and to a lesser extent the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), to recruit and field “woke” candidates, which will be something parties have to manage.
However, Mr Inderjit Singh noted that the scrutiny is even greater for the opposition parties, which are also scrutinised by the PAP.
The WP has also seen its fair share of controversy since the last general election.
Former Sengkang MP Raeesah Khan was embroiled in a long saga surrounding a lie she told in Parliament that resulted in her resigning from the WP and as an MP on Nov 30, 2021.
In July 2023, former Aljunied MP Leon Perera resigned after the party found that he had lied about an affair with its former Youth Wing president Nicole Seah. Ms Seah, a rising star in the WP, also resigned.

Still, opposition parties such as the WP and the PSP have garnered greater visibility over the years, through the work of their MPs, said Dr Koh.
The WP has eight MPs while the PSP has two Non-Constituency MPs currently as part of the 14th Parliament.
“Regardless of whether the front bench or even members of the public agree with all that these opposition MPs have said and done, what is obvious is that they have been drawing explanations on government action and presenting alternative perspectives on matters of public interest, given that there are more of them in the House now,” said Dr Koh.
This may attract people of standing to put aside previous notions of how “joining the opposition is a lost cause” and build on the momentum around being a check and balance to the behemoth that the PAP is currently, she added.
Fresh coalitions by the opposition could also attract good people to their doors to see if there are opportunities for them to contribute to the new movement.
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(From left) National Solidarity Party vice-president Mohd Ridzwan Mohammad, Red Dot United chief Ravi Philemon, Singapore People’s Party secretary-general Steve Chia and Singapore United Party secretary-general Andy Zhu at the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Oct 28. The four opposition parties inked an agreement to work together ahead of the next general election. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Yet the PAP may still have certain things going for them in attracting new members.
The latest Forward Singapore agenda, with its commitment to social reform, could appeal to a more socially conscious, people-oriented set of younger leaders, said Dr Koh.
The PAP can also draw on senior members of the different arms of the public service or armed forces, who could have the unusual combination of good political acuity with strong technocratic skills; they can be both policymakers and community mobilisers, she said.
But Prof Tan noted that while the scholar-soldier, high-flying civil servant or hotshot professional remain the usual top picks for the PAP, voters increasingly seem to prefer their elected representatives to be more like them.
“So the PAP is keen to trot out a wider range of backgrounds that its election candidates come from – such as activists and civil society personalities. They have also become more open to older candidates,” he said.
 

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PAP activists step up presence in opposition wards​

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PAP’s point man for Hougang Jackson Lam announced on Facebook that he had started his “regular chit-chat sessions” with residents every first and third Wednesday of each month. PHOTO: JACKSON LAM/FACEBOOK
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Chin Soo Fang
Senior Correspondent

APR 05, 2024

SINGAPORE – Activists from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) are stepping up meet-the-resident engagements in wards held by the opposition Workers’ Party (WP), following a hiatus after the 2020 General Election.
On April 4, PAP’s point man for Hougang Jackson Lam announced on Facebook that he had started his “regular chit-chat sessions” with residents every first and third Wednesday of each month from 7.30pm at a block in Hougang Avenue 5.
He took over as chairman of PAP’s Hougang branch in October 2023 from Mr Lee Hong Chuang. The latter contested in the WP stronghold in GE2015 and GE2020.
PAP activists in Aljunied GRC have also resumed similar engagements with residents, which were suspended after the last general election.
Grassroots adviser Shamsul Kamar said in a Facebook post on March 28 that he is “back to meeting residents” in Kaki Bukit. Fellow Aljunied grassroots adviser Victor Lye has also been meeting residents through “weekly coffee shop sessions” in Bedok Reservoir and Hougang.
Both Mr Shamsul and Mr Lye were PAP candidates for Aljunied in GE2015 and GE2020.
When contacted by ST on April 4, Mr Shamsul said he has not resumed his meet-the-people sessions (MPS) in Aljunied.

“On my part, however, I do meet residents from time to time to assist with requests for advice and apply for financial assistance,” he said. “These are not the regular weekly MPS.”
In response to queries, the PAP said: “Our PAP branch chairs have constantly been looking at different ways to connect with the residents across Singapore.”
ST also contacted Mr Lam and Mr Lye, as well as the WP, for comment.

The WP team in Aljunied is helmed by party chief Pritam Singh, and comprises party chair Sylvia Lim, vice-chair Faisal Manap and party exco member Gerald Giam. Former exco member Leon Perera resigned from the WP and as an MP for Aljunied in July 2023.
The WP’s organising secretary Dennis Tan is the MP for Hougang.
Besides Aljunied and Hougang, the WP also runs Sengkang GRC, which it captured in GE2020 with 52.12 per cent of the votes.
Political observers such as ex-PAP MP Inderjit Singh said the resumption of consultation sessions in some opposition-held wards after they were paused in 2020 shows that the general election is around the corner, and that the ruling party wants to be more engaged, including in constituencies where it is not incumbent.
The next general election is due by November 2025.
After the PAP lost Aljunied to the WP in 2011, it continued to hold unofficial versions of MPS there. Such sessions often go by another name in wards not held by the PAP – such as “meet-the-residents” in Hougang – to avoid confusion with the MPS conducted by elected MPs.
However, following GE2020, defeated PAP candidates ceased meeting residents in opposition wards this way. Some PAP activists said they instead directed residents to their elected MPs from the WP, though the PAP candidates continue to serve as grassroots advisers.
Mr Shamsul said doing so would “give space to the WP with the increased mandate it had received during (GE2020)” to carry out its own programmes for residents.
“This is so that the WP will be empowered to focus on serving the residents who have made their votes count during the last GE,” he added in a Facebook post on July 19, 2020.
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Grassroots adviser Shamsul Kamar said in a Facebook post on March 28 that he is “back to meeting residents” in Kaki Bukit. PHOTO: SHAMSUL KAMAR/FACEBOOK
Analysts said then that this was a response to calls for a fairer playing field. The PAP also wanted to dispel the myth that voters in opposition wards can effectively have two parties serving them – a common refrain by opposition candidates during hustings.
Singapore Management University Associate Professor of Law Eugene Tan said the earlier decision to stop MPS was not intended to be permanent.
“The PAP indicated that the move to withdraw MPS was to respect the voters’ decision for an opposition team to represent them in Parliament,” he added.
“Furthermore, it was intended to ensure that the opposition call to ‘vote opposition and get the PAP to also serve you’ or ‘2 for the price of 1’ will not be an additional draw to vote for the opposition.”
An MPS-like platform is one way for the PAP to indicate that it wants to serve residents of opposition-held wards, if elected, noted Prof Tan. Conversely, opposition parties will continue to reach out to residents of PAP-held wards that they are keen to contest in, he added.

WP candidates who contested East Coast and Marine Parade in GE2020 have been conducting walkabouts in those constituencies, as have members of the Progress Singapore Party in West Coast and Nee Soon.
“It is all fair in that sense – political parties are free to suss the ground and to determine how to campaign in the lead-up to a GE, and voters welcome it as an opportunity to be courted,” said Prof Tan.
Agreeing, Mr Inderjit Singh said there is nothing to stop opposition candidates from conducting their own sessions in PAP wards.
The former PAP backbencher posited that the PAP may see an opportunity to wrest back some constituencies from the opposition, given the issues facing the WP’s leadership. If so, it would see greater engagement with residents as important, he added.
WP chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh is facing two counts of lying to a parliamentary committee.
The March 19, 2024 charges relate to his testimony before the Committee of Privileges convened in 2021 to look into a lying controversy that involved his party’s former MP Raeesah Khan.
Residents in opposition wards such as Mrs Cecilia Teo, 58, said the upshot is more places to turn to should they need help.
Mrs Teo, who stays in Serangoon Gardens in Aljunied GRC, has not gone to any political party for help.
“If needed, I will go to WP as they are elected to look after this ward,” said the retiree, who used to helm a non-profit organisation. “I am fine with both parties serving the ward as it benefits the residents.”
 

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Changi Airport Group CEO to step down on July 1 after 15 years; airport veteran to take over​

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Mr Yam Kum Weng (right) will succeed Mr Lee Seow Hiang, who has been at the helm since 2009. PHOTOS: CHANGI AIRPORT GROUP
Esther Loi


APR 09, 2024

SINGAPORE – Mr Lee Seow Hiang, chief executive of airport operator Changi Airport Group (CAG), will step down from his role on July 1, after 15 years at the helm.
Mr Yam Kum Weng, CAG’s executive vice-president for airport development, who has been leading the Changi East project, has been named his successor, CAG said in a statement on April 9.
Mr Lee, 54, will also step down as a CAG board director, as well as the chairman of Changi Airports International (CAI), the consultancy and investment arm of CAG, and Jewel Changi Airport Development, which runs Jewel, the lifestyle and entertainment complex at the airport.
Mr Yam, 59, will be named a CAG board director and the chairman of CAI from July 1.
CAG spokesman Ivan Tan told The Straits Times that the new chairman of Jewel Changi Airport Development, a joint venture between CAG and CapitaLand Development, will be announced in due course.
“As Jewel Changi Airport Development is a joint venture, it is appropriate that the shareholders discuss this first,” he said.
Appointed CAG’s founding chief executive on July 1, 2009, Mr Lee witnessed several of the airport’s key developments, including the launch of Terminal 4 in 2017 and the opening of Jewel in 2019.

Before helming CAG, Mr Lee held various appointments in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Ministry of Defence from 1989 to 2005, with his last position being deputy head of air operations in RSAF’s headquarters.
From 2005 to 2008, Mr Lee was the principal private secretary to the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
CAG chairman Tan Gee Paw thanked Mr Lee for his contributions to CAG and the airport, saying that his vision transformed Changi into a strong air hub with an extensive network.

He said: “As the chief executive officer, Seow Hiang kept CAG financially strong and stable during the pandemic years.”
He added: “It is to the credit of CAG’s management team led by Seow Hiang that Changi Airport’s passenger traffic has already surpassed 2019’s pre-pandemic levels in February and March 2024.”
Some 5.35 million passengers passed through the airport in February 2024, up from the 5.13 million passenger movements in February 2019. CAG said the figures for March 2024 will be provided later.
Mr Tan Gee Paw said that the board carefully reviewed its options in considering a replacement for Mr Lee, while recognising Changi Airport’s role as critical infrastructure and the importance of leadership continuity in pushing CAG’s plans forward.
Mr Ivan Tan, the CAG spokesman, told ST its board considered several candidates – both internal and external – and Mr Yam was the “best person for the role” after taking into account the requirements and experience needed to carry Changi Airport through its next phase.
Mr Tan Gee Paw pointed to Mr Yam’s experience as a senior executive leading Singapore’s air hub development and airport management.
He said the board is confident Mr Yam is best suited to run an operationally intensive airport while ensuring the success of the Changi East programme, which includes the development of Terminal 5, set to open in the mid-2030s.

Having started his career at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore in 1990, Mr Yam served as the director of airport management from 1999 to 2004, and later took on the position of director of air transport.
He assumed the position of executive vice-president for air hub development at CAG in 2009.
On his new role, Mr Yam said he was honoured, and thanked the CAG board for its vote of confidence.
“Seow Hiang has delivered much for CAG and Changi Airport and, with the support of my colleagues, I am committed to continuing the journey to maintain Changi’s position as an exceptional airport and a leading air hub,” he added.
On his departure, Mr Lee said: “It has been a gift of grace and a privilege of a lifetime to be a member of this special Changi community... I am leaving with the deepest confidence that, under Kum Weng’s leadership, the best days for the Changi air hub are yet to be.”
When asked if Mr Lee will be joining politics after leaving CAG, Mr Ivan Tan said Mr Lee will announce his plans “if and when he’s ready to do so”.
In the last 15 years, CAG marked major milestones such as the launch of Terminal 4 and the upgrading and expansion of Terminals 1 and 2 from 2015 to 2023.
These large infrastructure projects increased Changi Airport’s handling capacity by 23 per cent to 90 million passenger movements a year, CAG said.
Terminal 5, the airport’s biggest terminal, will be located within the 1,080ha Changi East development, which is Changi Airport’s largest expansion project to date.
 

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PM Lee’s handover to DPM Wong: Is a snap GE on the cards?​

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After he is sworn in, DPM Lawrence Wong (right) will be Singapore’s fourth prime minister, succeeding PM Lee Hsien Loong. PHOTO: ST FILE
Natasha Ann Zachariah and Goh Yan Han

APR 16, 2024

SINGAPORE - The announcement that Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong will take over as prime minister on May 15 may indicate that a general election could be called “sooner rather than later”, say some political observers and pundits.
With international geopolitical conflicts and domestic issues such as cost of living and housing at the forefront of Singaporeans’ concerns, they added that it is likely the general election will be held by the end of 2024.
This is even though DPM Wong has until November 2025 to hold the next election.
Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong took office in November 1990 and the next general election was held in August 1991, while Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took office in August 2004 with the next general election held only in May 2006.
SMU associate professor of law Eugene Tan said the handover announcement struck him as “being on an accelerated timeline”.
There appears to be some urgency on the part of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) to go to the polls, he added.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on April 15 that DPM Wong will take over from PM Lee in a month’s time, making him Singapore’s fourth prime minister.

Pointing to the deteriorating global geopolitical situation – with the latest major incident occurring at the weekend with Iran’s attack on Israel – Prof Tan speculated that PAP leaders believe the time is ripe to seek a fresh mandate.
“In other words, to put in place the government for the next five years before things spiral downwards,” he said.
“This will enable Singaporeans to be clear-eyed about the issues and challenges, and determine who should represent them in Parliament and which party should form the government.”

However, Prof Tan did not think an election right after the handover was on the cards.
Instead, he suggested two possible windows in 2024: in September after the National Day Rally (NDR), and at the end of the year after the PAP’s Central Executive Committee election.
Dr Leong Chan-Hoong, a senior fellow for social cohesion research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at NTU, said the April 15 handover announcement was not surprising, given that PM Lee had already laid out the road map in 2023 for the impending transition.
PM Lee highlighted the challenges Singapore will continue to grapple with, such as the cost of living and unemployment, and the global implications of ongoing wars in the Middle East and Ukraine – issues that could have also factored into his decision to move forward now.
As such, Dr Leong believes that the election will be called by the end of 2024 to have younger leaders take the lead sooner, given the complexity of these ongoing challenges.
“The 4G (fourth-generation) leaders will be the ones who will have to deal with these issues, and they are not going to be resolved any time soon,” he said.

Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, a senior international affairs analyst at Solaris Strategies Singapore, said it was “rather implausible” that DPM Wong would call an election soon after the handover.
A cool-down period between both major announcements would be necessary, instead of springing news of a general election soon after, he said. “It has to be handled tactfully.”
December would be a likely possibility for a general election, said Dr Mustafa, after the 70th anniversary of the PAP in November.
He said DPM Wong, in his capacity as the new prime minister, would likely want to rally his comrades to prepare for an election.
However, some analysts suggested an election period in 2025, after the Budget next February.
Senior research fellow Gillian Koh of the NUS Institute of Policy Studies pointed to part of DPM Wong’s speech at the PAP’s Party Awards and Convention in November 2023.
Then, he told party members that by the PAP’s 70th anniversary in 2024, “we can look forward to a refreshed PAP ready to fight the next election, and to win the confidence and trust of all Singaporeans”.
Dr Koh said this suggests that DPM Wong will want to take the time to rejuvenate his party.
She outlined how he will hold his first NDR, when he can announce the details of new policies that had not been covered in Budget 2024.
By the time Budget 2025 comes around, she said, it will be clearer as to how Singapore’s economy and social conditions look like.
“By May next year, Mr Wong will have been at the helm for a year, and voters will have a feel of what it is like to have him as (Singapore’s prime minister) when he goes to the polls,” said Dr Koh.
“Mr Wong will be better served by giving himself enough time for them to warm up to him in that role, and for his own party to be firmly under his leadership by then.”

NUS associate professor of political science Chong Ja Ian believes the handover on May 15 indicates a desire on the part of the PAP to let DPM Wong win “on his own mandate”.
But when the general election will take place is anyone’s guess, he said.
“Up until then, the PAP has the prerogative to call an election whenever they believe circumstances are beneficial to their electoral performance.”
Political analysts expect that DPM Wong will likely reshuffle the Cabinet, announcing the changes at his handover or just after.
Dr Koh said DPM Wong would want to “(stamp) his mark” on his first Cabinet as PM.
“It is likely that PM Lee will become senior minister, but it remains to be seen how many leaders in the Class of 2001, as well as whether Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, will still be in Cabinet,” she noted.

Some PAP MPs who first stood for election in 2001 include Ms Indranee Rajah, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development, and Dr Amy Khor, who is Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment and Transport.
Former PAP MP Inderjit Singh, who retired as an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC before the 2015 General Election, said one thing DPM Wong needs to do before the election is “show that he is clearly in charge and with all Cabinet members showing clear support”.
“For now, his leadership style seems to be diffused, which allows others in the team to show leadership strengths in different areas. It is, however, very important that Singaporeans see him as the leader who is calling most of the shots,” added Mr Singh.
He added that a realistic period for the next general election would be post-NDR, around September 2024.
Echoing the view that DPM Wong will want to carve out his own path now that the date has been set, Dr Mustafa said: “The salient point here is that Lawrence Wong will decide on when the election is called, instead of Lee Hsien Loong.
“He would want to begin his term as the fourth prime minister with a strong and healthy mandate from the people of Singapore.”
 

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Creating forward momentum for next GE when Lawrence Wong is PM​

Time is needed to strengthen government, country and the PAP before he seeks new mandate.​

Gillian Koh
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After he is sworn in, DPM Lawrence Wong (right) will be Singapore’s fourth prime minister, succeeding PM Lee Hsien Loong. PHOTO: ST FILE

APR 17, 2024

The formal process of Singapore’s leadership succession, which began in 2011 when current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared his quest to find its fourth prime minister, took a significant step closer to its conclusion on April 15.
PM Lee announced he would hand the mantle of leadership to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on May 15.
While the governing People’s Action Party (PAP) takes pride in its ability to plan long-term, this is not for its own sake, nor is it out of brash arrogance that it has the means to determine precisely what must happen in the future.
The truth is far from it.
Instead, it is born out of a belief that leaders can be made and that takes time. It also recognises that Singapore does best when its politics and policies are as predictable as possible – citizens, investors and friends know who and what they can depend on. Governance bandwidth is saved for instances when life throws a curveball.
The years of transition did see an unexpected turn of events.
Monday’s announcement reminds us that PM Lee’s notion of the ideal slate of leadership candidates was scuppered with the outcome of the general election (GE) in 2011 – one high-flying recruit was defeated by the opposition Workers’ Party (WP) in the group representation constituency (GRC) of Aljunied.

We know that the first choice of successor stepped aside when the Covid-19 pandemic meant PM Lee had to stay in office for a longer and indefinite period to see the country through.
DPM Heng Swee Keat, selected by his cohort of younger leaders to be their primus inter pares (first among equals) in 2018, said in April 2021, in the midst of that crisis at age 60, that someone with a “sufficiently long runway to master the demands of leading our nation” and who can “formulate and see through our longer-term strategies for our country” should assume the role instead.
PM Lee has been at the helm for two decades; Singapore’s second prime minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, for 14 years; and founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, 31 years. Hence, while like his predecessors, PM Lee will be appointed Senior Minister in Cabinet when he stands down, his successor DPM Wong, who is 51 years old, should have the vigour, longevity and wherewithal to stay the course for at least as long as Mr Goh or PM Lee’s five parliamentary terms.


This also means that DPM Wong must work long and hard to prevail effectively over the vagaries of external and internal policy conditions, as well as higher political contestation locally. After all, both PM Lee and DPM Wong have declared on several occasions from the time of the 2020 GE that the PAP was going into each GE fighting to form the government rather than take that outcome for granted.
So how will the new leader of the party lead his team into the next GE, which should be called before this parliamentary term ends in August 2025? What are his key tasks in these 15 months before him?

Political agenda – strengthening party ranks​

DPM Wong’s immediate priority is to plan and introduce his first Cabinet on May 15.
Several members in the current one were inducted into politics in 2001 by Mr Goh, who also recruited Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean in 1992.
DPM Wong has indicated that the latter will remain in Cabinet and bigger changes will take place only after the next GE.
When the time comes, several of the leaders who have been voted in since 2011, and considered within the same cohort of leaders with DPM Wong, will be mature leaders in government, and can more than succeed those of the Class of 2001.

There has to be an even broader impetus to promote younger politicians and junior ministers to take the reins of government earlier, rather than later.
There are at least three reasons for this. The median age of Singaporean voters is 43 years old. The PAP would want most of its leaders to be those who can identify with the bulk of the population and vice versa.
Second, it has to signal its ability to attract fresh blood of high quality and place them in positions where they can themselves master the demands of leading their peers, as well as impress senior and seasoned voters who have seen the best of the Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong years.
Finally, and not least, because of the unique electoral system that the PAP has established for other reasons – there has to be a sufficient number of strong policy-oriented but politically savvy younger leaders to anchor the large GRCs, of which there are 17 today.
There are 14 single-member constituencies that need politicians who are deeply embedded locally and can stand independently, and renewing these ranks is no mean feat.
Such are the burdens of being the governing party – it has an insatiable need for honest, talented and public-oriented people to refresh its slate and nurture leadership qualities.

DPM Wong and the PAP recognise that it no longer suffices for politicians to be parachuted into large ministerial positions and anchor local constituencies, as voters have become more demanding and wave the threat of exercising their choice before the incumbents.
We saw what happened in Aljunied GRC in 2011, when ministers were not voted back into Parliament, as well as in Sengkang GRC in 2020.
While it is prudent to persuade Singaporeans to decide on which party provides the best possible policy positions and governance performance when they head to the ballot box, the raw politics of the PAP’s choice of personalities must not distract them from making that rational choice.
Only time and exposure to new faces can minimise this risk.

Policy agenda – responding to extreme change​

As for this question of policies, DPM Wong has not only launched a major blueprint for socio-economic reform in November 2023 – the Forward Singapore report – but also put resources behind it.
He laid out the first instalment of the plan in 2024’s Budget with its accent on supporting home ownership and the marriage and parenthood aspirations of young Singaporeans; improving the employability of middle-aged Singaporeans; enhancing retirement adequacy and healthy longevity for our seniors.

In a year that suggests that disruptions in geopolitics – with their knock-on effects on shipping, trade, the costs of resources, and disillusionment in globalisation and collaboration for common good – are worsening, the commitment to helping Singaporeans cope with the acute elevation of costs of living is welcome and may require reinforcement.
There is much scope for the new prime minister, who might wish to maintain a firm hold on the finance portfolio to calibrate fiscal measures, to address emerging pain points of business and people in 2025’s Budget.
Implementation of what has already been set in motion has to be felt on the ground too.

Timing DPM Wong’s first election​

With a clearer sense of the outlook for the country by the first quarter of 2025, when the country marks its 60th anniversary of independence, and elections in several major powers of the world are concluded, even if the external conditions do not improve, there is time enough for DPM Wong and his party to shape policy to help people and businesses make the most of difficult circumstances.
He can give new Cabinet members, his Members of Parliament, prospective election candidates and the broader PAP ranks the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to that, and thereby provide the strongest footing possible for a general election.
The next National Day Rally, PAP party convention, commemoration plans for SG60 and the 2025 Budget will be signal events to do so.

The opposition movement is certainly not standing still.
The year 2023 was filled with news of collaboration among these alternative parties to strengthen their electoral tactics. The WP has said its medium-term electoral goal is to help deny the PAP a two-thirds majority in Parliament needed for constitutional amendments.
The incumbent party will have to deliver some of the promised effects of the new social compact and develop fresh ways to connect with the populace it acknowledged it needs at its past two party conventions.
These are how Singapore’s fourth prime minister will probably create forward momentum for people and politics, before he leads his party to the polls.
  • Dr Gillian Koh is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore.
 

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Don’t read too much into walkabouts: Ng Chee Meng​

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Labour chief Ng Chee Meng said that he has been "walking about since 2020". PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
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Timothy Goh

APR 25, 2024

SINGAPORE - Labour chief Ng Chee Meng has dismissed speculation about his appearance at a community event in Bukit Batok, and asked that people not “read too much” into it.
When asked if he intends to contest the next general election, the secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) told The Straits Times: “I have been walking about since 2020... I am glad that you are paying attention to what I’ve been doing, but I suggest that you don’t have to read too much into it at the moment.”
He added: “It’s really part and parcel of NTUC’s approach to help working people, residents to cope with things like cost of living.”
Mr Ng was speaking to reporters on April 25 about how NTUC has been supporting professionals, managers and executives.
On April 21, he had uploaded a video to Facebook that showed him interacting with residents at a Hari Raya event in Bukit Batok organised by the FairPrice Group, next to People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Murali Pillai.
Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao noted in an April 25 report that the NTUC secretary-general’s “personal visit to a small-scale community event had sparked some speculation” about his possible political movement.
The newspaper quoted political observers as saying that the fourth-generation leadership still hopes for Mr Ng to be part of the team, and as such may move him to a constituency where he has a higher chance of winning in the next general election.

Mr Ng’s appearance in Bukit Batok could therefore signal that he could be contesting in next-door Jurong GRC, they added. Jurong, which is a five-member group representation constituency, has not had an anchor minister since former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam stepped down in June 2023 to contest the presidential election.
While they are separate constituencies, both Jurong GRC and Bukit Batok SMC come under Jurong-Clementi Town Council, together with the single seat of Yuhua.
In the 2020 General Election, a PAP team led by Mr Tharman secured 74.61 per cent of the vote in Jurong GRC. Mr Ng had led the PAP team in Sengkang GRC, in a contest won by a Workers’ Party team with 52.12 per cent of the vote.

Other possible constituencies that Mr Ng may be sent to include Ang Mo Kio GRC or Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said Zaobao, quoting observers.
Former Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh told the Chinese daily that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is expected to serve in Teck Ghee until 2030, and that in the long run, both Ang Mo Kio and Jurong would need a new anchor minister. Teck Ghee is a ward within Ang Mo Kio GRC.
Before he was moved to Sengkang for GE2020, Mr Ng was an MP in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
He was minister for education (schools) and second minister for transport from 2016 to 2018, and stepped up to become labour chief in May 2018, taking over from Mr Chan Chun Sing who went on to be trade and industry minister.


Following GE2020, Mr Ng said he would step down from the Cabinet but would continue to fulfil his elected role in NTUC.
The NTUC’s central committee is elected by union delegates at a conference held every four years. The committee then elects from among themselves the president, secretary-general and other principal office bearers.
PM Lee said at the July 2020 Cabinet reshuffle that the Government would continue to work closely with Mr Ng as labour chief, even though he was no longer a member of the Cabinet.
By convention, a Cabinet minister had held NTUC’s secretary-general post for 40 years. This practice began with Mr Lim Chee Onn, who was the first labour chief to be appointed minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in 1980.
 

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Ng Chee Meng likely to run in PAP stronghold as candidate in next general election: Observers​

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Labour chief Ng Chee Meng at a FairPrice Group May Day block party in Serangoon North Ave on May 4. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Anjali Raguraman and Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

MAY 04, 2024

SINGAPORE – Labour chief Ng Chee Meng is likely to run for the next general election, but in constituencies such as Jurong GRC or Ang Mo Kio GRC, said political observers.
They added that he will probably not return to Sengkang GRC, where a four-man People’s Action Party team led by Mr Ng lost to the Workers’ Party during the 2020 General Election with 47.88 per cent of the votes.
Speculation on Mr Ng making a comeback during the next general election intensified when he made an appearance at a Hari Raya Aidilfitri event organised by the FairPrice Group in Bukit Batok on April 21. Bukit Batok’s sitting MP, Mr Murali Pillai from the PAP, was also at the event.
However, Mr Ng told reporters on April 25 that people should not “read too much” into the event, and that such appearances are part of NTUC’s regular groundwork.
A Cabinet minister has traditionally held the post of NTUC secretary-general. The practice began with Mr Lim Chee Onn, who was the first labour chief to be appointed minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in 1980.
Mr Ng – who has been NTUC secretary-general since 2018 – is the first labour chief in decades who is not also a sitting MP.
“Despite not being a current PAP MP, his continuing as NTUC secretary-general in the past four years indicates that the ruling party leadership has significant plans for him should he be elected,” said Singapore Management University associate professor of law Eugene Tan.

“The symbiotic relationship between the PAP and NTUC makes it imperative for Mr Ng to be elected if he is to continue as the labour chief.”
Prof Tan added: “There are options for the PAP as to where he could be fielded, but it is unlikely he will be fielded in an SMC and even more unlikely to be fielded again in Sengkang GRC.”
Observers suggested that Mr Ng is likely to be fielded in a PAP stronghold instead.


Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, a senior international affairs analyst at Solaris Strategies Singapore, said that as Mr Ng is seen as being a member of the 4G team, there is a high likelihood that he may be fielded in one of the safer GRCs for the coming election.
With Mr Ng being spotted in Bukit Batok, one possibility is that he may lead the Jurong GRC team, which is without an anchor minister after Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam stepped down in June 2023 to contest, and subsequently win, the presidential election.
While they are separate constituencies, both Bukit Batok and the five-member Jurong GRC come under Jurong-Clementi Town Council, together with the single seat of Yuhua.
In the 2020 General Election, a PAP team led by Mr Tharman secured almost 75 per cent of the vote in Jurong GRC – the highest of any electoral constituency.
In contrast, in Bukit Batok SMC, Mr Murali scraped a win with 54.8 per cent of the votes.
Based on the 2020 General Election results, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Ang Mo Kio GRC and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC are also relatively safe seats for the PAP, noted Prof Tan.
The PAP secured 64.16 per cent of the vote in Pasir Ris-Punggol, 67.23 per cent in Bishan-Toa Payoh, and 71.91 per cent in Ang Mo Kio, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is anchor minister.
Prof Tan added: “Mr Ng was an MP in Pasir Ris-Punggol between 2015 and 2020, so he would still be fairly familiar to voters there. He could also be regarded as the possible successor to PM Lee in Ang Mo Kio GRC... (otherwise he could be) portrayed as the new anchor in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC should Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen not contest or relinquish his anchor role.”

This week, when The Straits Times visited some of the constituencies where Mr Ng could be fielded, residents said it will be an uphill task for the NTUC secretary-general to replace former or current MPs who have served the community for a long time.
Residents and merchants at shops and eateries in Bukit Batok spoke effusively of how Mr Murali – who has been serving the single seat ward since the 2016 by-election – is a consistent presence and a friendly one.
Among them was actor Ebi Shankara, 36, who lived in Bukit Batok for most of his life and still visits family in the area on a regular basis.
He described Mr Murali as “mild-mannered, amiable and someone who is always in touch with the people”, whether or not it is election season.
A resident who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim, 66, said: “He comes around (the neighbourhood) quite a lot, so I appreciate it, because I have been staying here for over 30 years.”
Other Bukit Batok residents, like a retiree who wanted to be known only as Mr Tang, 65, welcomed the idea of a new face like Mr Ng.
“I think the Government needs him (to run) because he is a workhorse. They need people to do the work, and it’s not just about managing the estate,” said Mr Tang.
“He is probably someone up and coming, and (the PAP) needs people, because the older ministers are tired after Covid-19,” he added.
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Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai and labour chief Ng Chee Meng at a Hari Raya Aidilfitri event organised by the FairPrice Group in Bukit Batok on April 21. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN
In Jurong GRC’s Taman Jurong ward, where President Tharman was formerly MP, residents and stallholders were happy for Mr Tharman’s success in the presidential election, but believe his successor will have big shoes to fill.
Madam Fatimah Begum Sikander, 50, said Mr Tharman came by the three-storey Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre, where she has had a briyani stall since 2009, almost every week.
“He took note of everything and cared for us... I’m a single parent as well, so he always asked: ‘What help do you need?’” said Madam Fatimah.
“It feels empty now that he doesn’t come by,” she lamented.
It was a sentiment mirrored by Ms Ryn Hashim, 38, who owns Malay food stall Sinar Rezeki. She has run the stall for 13 years.
“I don’t think anybody can replace him,” she said.
On May 4, Mr Ng made another appearance in Serangoon North Avenue 3 at a FairPrice Group May Day block party that was also attended by PAP MP Ng Ling Ling.
Ms Ng is the representative for Jalan Kayu, which comes under Ang Mo Kio GRC.
At the event, Ms Ng said the labour chief had described residents in the area as “very warm” and welcoming.
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Labour chief Ng Chee Meng and Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ng Ling Ling distributing goodie bags to residents at a FairPrice Group May Day block party in Serangoon North Ave 3 on May 4. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
ST spoke to several residents at the event, all of whom said it was the first time they were seeing Mr Ng.
One couple in their 60s, who declined to be named, had approached him to ask if supermarket prices can be lowered.
“People in our age group talk about prices of everyday goods at supermarkets being expensive,” the woman said.
Her husband said: “Mr Ng listened and explained that the prices of all things at (FairPrice) cannot all drop. There were certain considerations, he told us.”
Another resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee, wondered if there was more to the visit.
“I have not seen him here except for today’s block party,” the man said.
“MP Ng Ling Ling describing Mr Ng calling the estate ‘very warm’… could it mean there’s more to it? Will he stand here during (the next) GE?”
 

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Registers of Electors to be revised by July 31, public inspection will open in June: ELD​

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Prime Minister Lawrence Wong has directed the Registration Officer to revise the Registers of Electors and to complete the revision before July 31. PHOTO: ST FILE
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Fatimah Mujibah

MAY 20, 2024

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s voter rolls are being updated and will be open for public inspection in June.
Prime Minister Lawrence Wong has directed the Registration Officer to revise the Registers of Electors and to complete the revision before July 31, said the Elections Department (ELD) in a statement on May 20.
Anyone who meets the following qualifying criteria as at June 1, which is the cut-off date for the Registers of Electors, will have his name included in the register of electors for an electoral division:
  • Is a Singaporean citizen
  • Is 21 years and above
  • Is not disqualified from being an elector under any prevailing law
  • Has a Singapore residential address on his NRIC; or for those living overseas and has changed the address on his NRIC to an overseas address, has a contact address in Singapore registered with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority for voting purposes
More details will be provided on how Singaporeans can check the Registers of Electors when they are open for public inspection, said the ELD.
 
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