Workers’ Party veterans to make way for younger leaders

This article is more than 12 months old

Former chief Low and fellow MPs Chen and Png step down amid party renewal

Former Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang and fellow MPs Chen Show Mao and Png Eng Huat will not be standing as candidates in the general election, paving the way for the party's younger leaders to take their place as the opposition party pushes ahead with renewal.

Taking Mr Low's and Mr Chen's place in the Aljunied GRC slate will be Mr Gerald Giam and Mr Leon Perera, while Mr Png will be replaced in Hougang by Mr Dennis Tan.

WP secretary-general Pritam Singh made the announcement yesterday in a press conference.

Describing it as a collective decision anchored on the continued success of the WP, Mr Singh said the move would allow the party to broaden its leadership base and remain in touch with the ground as Singapore's population changes.


"For the party to grow, new and younger leaders require parliamentary and town council experience. If there is no renewal of Workers' Party MPs, over time the party will not be able to attract new members to join and aspire to serve Singapore and Singaporeans as opposition MPs.

"The absence of new blood will set the party back in its growth as a credible and institutionalised opposition in Singapore," he said.

Mr Singh added that Mr Low, 63, himself had persuaded him on the importance of refreshing the party's line-up of MPs for the WP to remain relevant to Singaporeans.

"He was concerned that as the elder generation of the party ages, even as values and wisdom remain timeless, a Member of Parliament must have his or her pulse on Singapore society.

"If a Workers' Party MP becomes too detached from new norms and the changing shape of society, the Workers' Party will be less effective in speaking for Singaporeans in Parliament and run the risk of becoming irrelevant," he said, relating Mr Low's advice.

All three men had expressed their wish to step down at the end of this term of Parliament, but Mr Singh stressed that this "is not a retirement".

He said the trio will continue to mentor and train the party's next generation leaders.

"The time is right for the Workers' Party to have senior leaders contribute in a different capacity. They remain critical as the party's resource of information and experience," he added.

The three younger candidates who will be taking their place - Mr Giam, 42, Mr Perera, 48, and Mr Tan, 49 - have all had parliamentary experience as Non-Constituency MPs, and have been touted as its next generation leaders.

Mr Perera had been shadowing Ms Lim in her Serangoon ward in Aljunied GRC for the past few years, while Mr Tan shadowed Mr Png in Hougang.

Mr Giam has been spotted walking the ground in Mr Low's Bedok Reservoir-Punggol ward, and has been knocking on doors and giving out fliers with his photo, name and contact number to residents in the area.