GE2020: Candidate identification not 'failsafe', says Pritam of Ivan Lim saga

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh speaking with a hawker during a party walkabout in Bedok North on 27 June 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — While every potential Workers’ Party (WP) candidate goes through a lengthy vetting process, there is no “failsafe mechanism” to ensure that all the boxes have been ticked, said WP chief Pritam Singh on Saturday (27 June).

“What we have to do in the circumstances is to make some decisions based on all the information that we have in our hands. At times, we’ve also had to speak to the bosses of some of our candidates or even friends, to have a better feel of the person. But generally, I don’t believe there’s a failsafe mechanism out there,” he said.

Speaking at a virtual press briefing where five WP candidates for the 10 July polls were officially unveiled, Singh was responding to a question on new People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Ivan Lim, who has been the subject of allegations about his past unsavoury behaviour.

Multiple online posts, purportedly from former colleagues and acquaintances, have accused him of being arrogant, elitist and lacking compassion. In response, Lim, 42, said on Saturday that he is “determined to stay the course and to serve if I am elected”.

How might the new WP candidates respond if similar things were unearthed from their past? In response, Singh explained that every potential candidate starts as a volunteer. They are then assessed by party members, elders and leaders, while the candidate’s friends and even bosses are consulted for their opinion, before a decision is made based on collective judgement.

“And then we have to make a judgment call: do we believe that these individuals will be able to serve the public wholeheartedly? And if there are some doubts, then obviously, these individuals will not be selected for candidature.”

The five WP candidates unveiled on Saturday include IT professional Nathaniel Koh, 36; contracts administrator Tan Chen Chen, 38; and lawyer Muhammad Fadli, 39. The other two were lawyer Terence Tan, 49, and Singapore Cancer Society deputy director Kenneth Foo, 43.

In the 2015 election, Terence and Foo ran in Marine Parade GRC and Nee Soon GRC, respectively.

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