From NSP star to ex-WP member: 7 things about Nicole Seah
Workers’ Party member Nicole Seah has resigned from the party after admitting that she had an affair with Aljunied GRC MP Leon Perera.
The resignation of the two party stalwarts was announced by WP secretary-general Pritam Singh at a media briefing on Wednesday.
On Monday, a 15-second video clip emerged online, which showed Mr Perera sitting at a restaurant table with Ms Seah, and holding and stroking her hands.
Both of them sat on the WP central executive committee.
The Straits Times traces Ms Seah’s 12-year political career from her debut as the youngest female candidate in the 2011 General Election.
1. East Coast roots
Ms Seah studied at CHIJ Katong, Tanjong Katong Secondary School and Victoria Junior College before pursuing a communications degree at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Her east-side links played a part in her maiden political foray during GE 2011 in Marine Parade GRC under the National Solidarity Party banner.
Ms Seah said her “first political awakening” was in 2003 when she was a 17-year-old student delivering food to the needy.
During the third year of her undergraduate studies at NUS, she became managing editor of independent online publication The Campus Observer, where her interest in politics blossomed further.
In 2009, she was reported to have joined the Reform Party’s youth wing.
2. NSP star
Ms Seah was part of a mass exodus from the Reform Party in February 2011 that was linked to differences in opinion within the party.
She helped campaign in Mountbatten SMC for NSP candidate Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss – who was part of the group who quit RP. Ms Seah, then 24, was later unveiled as the youngest candidate in GE 2011.
In the Marine Parade GRC contest, she went head-to-head with business consultant Tin Pei Ling, who was then 27 and the PAP’s youngest candidate at the polls that year.
In the media, Ms Seah billed herself as an average Singaporean who did not have a scholarship and did not study overseas.
Her eloquence and looks helped her gain favour with voters, such that local wits said NSP stood for the “Nicole Seah Party”.
Six days after creating a Facebook profile in April 2011, she became Singapore’s most popular politician online after former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Despite her popularity, the NSP team garnered about 43.4 per cent of the votes in Marine Parade GRC against the PAP.
Then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who helmed the PAP team in Marine Parade GRC, credited Ms Seah with pulling down the PAP vote share in Marine Parade.
He said: “She communicated very well. She spoke quite persuasively to the younger people as well as some older people.”
3. ‘Worst year of her life’
In the years after GE 2011, Ms Seah suffered rape and death threats on e-mail and Twitter, and was reportedly stalked.
In an interview with women’s magazine Her World in 2014, she said: “Netizens posted my office address and contact details, along with the time I usually got off work. I was paranoid when I left the office, knowing that someone could be watching me.”
In a since-deleted post that was widely reported by the media in November 2013, she candidly revealed struggles brought about by being in the public eye.
This included the exhaustion of balancing a day job in advertising with house visits and walkabouts, feeling like a fraud, suffering a panic attack after her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis, and losing two jobs.
In a Facebook note, she also called her endorsement of presidential candidate Tan Jee Say in 2011 a “terrible, irreversible mistake” and said she was “arm-twisted” into doing so.
4. End of NSP stint
Ms Seah took a leave of absence from the NSP in 2013 and moved to Bangkok to further her advertising career the next year.
Later that year, she resigned from the party, calling it an extremely difficult and painful decision.
She said: “This is not a complete departure from politics as I continue to keep tabs on what is happening back home.”
5. Finding romance
Being propelled into the political spotlight also took a toll on Ms Seah’s love life.
Her 2013 public confession revealed that two or three men she dated had been interested only in her public profile.
Under intense scrutiny from the media, she also separated from boyfriend Steven Goh – who was chief executive of social networking site Mig33.
Media outlets Lianhe Wanbao and AsiaOne made a mistake when they said he was married when he was, in fact, divorced. The outlets later apologised.
Speaking to Her World in 2014, Ms Seah said: “Instead of supporting me through the ordeal, he left me to deal with the aftermath alone...
“Though I would have struggled silently in the past, this time I refused. I ended the eight-month relationship and I’m now single and happier than before.”
In August 2015, she tied the knot with Bryan, a Singaporean engineer she met while holidaying in Australia, Her World reported.
The second of her two daughters was born in April 2022.
6. Life outside politics
After resigning from NSP, Ms Seah – who studied theatre studies and drama for her A levels – made her acting debut in the Singapore film 1965.
She played the wife of a police inspector played by actor Qi Yuwu, in a movie marking Singapore’s 50th year of independence.
Made on a budget of $2.8 million, it was released in 2015.
7. WP comeback
Ms Seah began volunteering with the WP media team after GE 2015, and wrote parts of the party’s 60th anniversary book launched in 2017.
In the run-up to GE 2020, Ms Seah said she returned to politics for her daughter, who was two then.
She was part of the WP line-up in East Coast GRC, garnering 46.59 per cent of the votes against the PAP team helmed by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
It was the WP’s best result in East Coast since it began contesting there in 2006.
After the polls, she climbed the ranks in the party as well as in her career.
Ms Seah was elected into the WP central executive committee in December 2020 and took over from Mr Perera as president of the WP youth wing a month later.
Her LinkedIn profile lists her as an associate director at French multinational marketing firm Publicis Media. In 2021, she was promoted to director.
Until June 19, she was active on social media and put up posts regularly on her walkabouts in East Coast with fellow East Coast GRC candidates who contested the 2020 polls.
Ms Seah resigned from the WP on Tuesday.