WP’s Low Thia Khiang delivers trademark Teochew speech in video

This article is more than 12 months old

The former chief of the Workers' Party (WP), Mr Low Thia Khiang, is not a candidate in tomorrow's polls, but voters still got to hear him deliver a speech in Teochew - an electoral trademark of the opposition stalwart.

In a move observers said was likely aimed at bolstering the WP's standing with its Chinese-speaking supporters, the party put up two video messages, delivered in Mandarin and Teochew, by the 63-year-old yesterday.

The speeches were bookended by clips of his rallies from previous elections.

"Every general election since 1991, I would speak in Teochew at Hougang rallies," he said in Teochew in the video that appeared to be recorded at his home.

"This GE, I did not have a chance to do so as rallies are not allowed."

In the videos, he detailed his history in Parliament and thanked voters for their support over the years.

He recalled the difficulties he faced initially, when "people doubted my ability to represent the voters, as government correspondence and parliamentary debates were carried out in the English language".

"Despite the attacks and ridicule against me, I persisted in speaking up, because this is my conviction."

He asked for voters to continue to support the WP, even though he was not contesting this election, saying the party would continue working hard for residents.

"Having witnessed Pritam's leadership, I am assured that he will bring the younger generation forward," said Mr Low.

Mr Low is the longest-serving opposition MP in Singapore.

In 2018, he handed the reins of the party to Mr Pritam Singh, an incumbent MP for Aljunied GRC.

"We cannot allow the PAP to implement policies at its sole discretion, increase the charges as and when it likes," he added.

He told residents that even though he was not standing for election, he was not retiring: "I will continue to serve the people by imparting knowledge (and) sharing my experience with the younger generation."

Mr Low, who was discharged in May from the intensive care unit of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital after injuring his head in a fall on April 30, has continued to walk the ground during this campaign period.

Political observer Eugene Tan said Mr Low's trademark speech, coming online on the last day at the hustings, helped to send the signal to his Teochew- and Mandarin-speaking voter base that despite the new faces, the party was still the same one they have been supporting over the years.

This bloc of WP supporters could have felt neglected by the party, Prof Tan noted, after news that three of its Mandarin-speaking stalwarts - Mr Low, Mr Png Eng Huat and Mr Chen Show Mao - would not contest this election.

To add to that, the party failed to send a representative to a live Mandarin debate on national television last Wednesday.

"But Mr Low assured voters by saying that he is not retiring and will continue to guide the younger politicians," said Prof Tan, a former Nominated MP and a law don at the Singapore Management University.