Singapore

New PAP candidates a diverse group: DPM Heng

This article is more than 12 months old

Mr Heng says they have taken multiple pathways to achieve success

The latest crop of new People's Action Party candidates are an "interesting and diverse" group of people who have taken multiple pathways to achieve success.

These new faces also represent different segments of society and therefore will bring with them different issues and concerns to raise in Parliament, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

He said: "What has been very encouraging for us is that we have now seen many Singaporeans who have taken the opportunity of embarking on very different pathways, whether it is education or in their career aspirations, or in the courses that they are interested in, and being able to make headway to develop themselves fully in this process.

"What is even more encouraging is that many of them have decided to step forward, so that they can share these experiences, they can continue this process of enabling more Singaporeans to succeed in the coming years."

Mr Heng was speaking at a virtual press meeting to unveil the first batch of the 26 PAP new faces who will contest next month's general election (GE).

The youngest PAP candidate in this GE is lawyer Nadia Ahmad Samdin, 30, who was among the four people Mr Heng introduced yesterday.

The identity of the oldest, aged 56, has not been revealed yet.

In a statement yesterday, the PAP said it has also made "significant efforts" to bring in more women candidates, with 10 featuring in the line-up this year.

About 20 MPs are expected to step down in the run-up to the polls.

Mr Heng said the PAP will contest all 93 seats in the July 10 GE, which means it will field candidates in 17 GRCs and 14 single-member constituencies.

He added that party renewal is part of the process through which the PAP improves its ability to better serve Singaporeans and take the country forward.

On Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's decision to hold the GE now, Mr Heng said Singapore will face external challenges in the years ahead.

Many critical decisions have to be made, and the strategy and actions Singapore takes in the coming months will profoundly shape its future.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, in a separate press conference to introduce four more new faces, echoed Mr Heng's views.

Mr Masagos said one common quality among the new PAP candidates is that they never stop learning, and they all have the desire to give back to society.

Their actions, too, give an insight into how committed they are in working for the community, he added.

First batch of PAP’s new candidates

DESMOND TAN KOK MING, 50

Former People's Association head

For Mr Tan, securing a government scholarship in his teens was the only way he could afford his university education.

But such social mobility among children from low-income families has become "quite challenging" in recent years, he said yesterday. It is a cause the father of three plans to champion if he is gets elected.

A Singapore Armed Forces Merit Scholarship holder, Mr Tan rose to the rank of brigadier-general before leaving to helm the People's Association in January 2017.

There, he introduced Residents' Networks and Youth Networks to encourage social mixing.

EDWARD CHIA BING HUI, 36

Co-founder and managing director of Timbre Group

Helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) transform and ride out the Covid-19 crisis will be one of Mr Chia's top priorities if he is elected to Parliament.

His own business, the Timbre Group, has had to grapple with the impact of Covid-19 and deal with other common challenges SMEs deal with, like high rentals and insufficient manpower.

Mr Chia, father of a six-year-old boy, is expected to be fielded in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

He studied economics and political science at the National University of Singapore, and started Timbre at 21 when he was an undergraduate.

NADIA AHMAD SAMDIN, 30

Associate director at TSMP Law Corporation

Ms Nadia's life has revolved around giving back to the community since she was 15. She started her volunteer work with the South East Community Development Council, and moved on to focus on causes that help vulnerable women and children.

The lawyer is a panel adviser for the Youth Court, where her role is to advise judges on the appropriate orders to pass in cases involving children and young persons.

The recreational diver has also seen first-hand the havoc wrought by climate change on the natural environment and hopes to champion this cause.

IVAN LIM SHAW CHUAN, 42

General manager (Specialised Vessels) at Keppel Offshore & Marine

At age 16, Mr Lim went to work at Keppel Shipyard after his O levels instead of furthering his studies, because of circumstances at home.

That was in 1994. He worked hard and was awarded a scholarship by Keppel to study for a diploma at Singapore Polytechnic, after which he continued to pursue his degree in marine engineering at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Rising through the ranks, Mr Lim is now general manager at Keppel Offshore and Marine.

Mr Lim, who is expected to be fielded in Jurong GRC, said he wants to champion the needs of the vulnerable, like elderly residents and children who require social assistance.

MR DON WEE BOON HONG, 43

Senior vice-president at United Overseas Bank

After finishing his O levels, Mr Wee enrolled in a diploma programme in Ngee Ann Polytechnic so that he could start work early and help his family with the bills.

He later joined a bank as a non-executive staff member, and got an accounting degree after some years of part-time study.

He subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant. He has been a grassroots leader in West Coast for 16 years.

Mr Wee, who has two children, is a member of the Institute of Mental Health's Visitors' Board.

He said he hopes to help the less-privileged, as well as those with mental health problems. He also hopes to help SMEs.

MOHD FAHMI ALIMAN, 48

Former Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) deputy chief executive

Mr Fahmi is a former army colonel who stepped down as deputy chief executive of Muis in March.

He helped to form and steer the M³@Bedok initiative, launched last year to help the Malay/Muslim community in Bedok Town.

The father of four joined the National Trades Union Congress' administration and research unit in April, and has been spotted on the ground in Marine Parade GRC.

Mr Fahmi's late father was a gas checker, while his late mother was a cleaner.

When he was in primary school, he would help her clear rubbish, he said. She later upgraded her skills to become a cook in a factory.

It is why, said Mr Fahmi, the welfare of low-wage workers in essential services is close to his heart.

YIP HON WENG, 43

Former group chief of the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care

Mr Yip received the Public Service Commission Overseas Specialist Award and started his civil service career as a physical education and mathematics teacher.

He later served in the education, manpower and defence ministries. He said he plans to help improve aged care services in Singapore.

Mr Yip is married with five children.

HANY SOH HUI BIN, 33

Director at MSC Law Corporation

Ms Soh, who was in the Normal (Academic) stream at Bendemeer Secondary School, later obtained a diploma in law and management from a polytechnic, and worked as a paralegal before saving enough money to pursue a law degree overseas.

She recounted how her secondary school teacher advised her that if she became a lawyer some day, she should serve "the lost, the least and the last".

This, she said, inspired her to get involved in grassroots work, volunteering in Bukit Panjang for the last nine years.

Ms Soh hopes to increase community awareness of legal issues and make legal help more accessible, especially to those who are physically disabled.

- DANSON CHEONG, LINETTE LAI, OLIVIA HO AND YUEN SIN

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