SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party on Saturday (27 June) unveiled five candidates for the 10 July General Election (GE), including two veterans of its 2015 campaign.
They include IT professional Nathaniel Koh, 36; contracts administrator Tan Chen Chen, 38; and lawyer Muhammad Fadli, 39. The other two are lawyer Terence Tan, 49, and Singapore Cancer Society deputy director Kenneth Foo, 43. In 2015, Tan and Foo ran in Marine Parade GRC and Nee Soon GRC, respectively.
The candidates were introduced by WP chief Pritam Singh and party chair Sylvia Lim at two separate virtual press briefings, livestreamed from the WP headquarters.
The Ivan Lim conundrum
In a brief question and answer session, Koh, Tan and Fadli were asked if they were concerned about being caught in a similar situation as 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? All three were nonchalant about the prospect, with Koh noting, “As candidates, we are at the forefront. We all come under public scrutiny. And it is natural that the public will want to scrutinise each and every candidate.”
He then quipped, “In fact, I was even chatting with my family members just this morning, they were asking me this question. And if there's anything, any dirt that comes out of my past, you will know after this.”
Separately, Fadli said that if elected, he hopes to reframe the conversation about Malay community issues away from the lens of race, or the idea that the problems facing the Malay community are due to some cultural habits or attributes of the Malays.
The former sociology major added, “Instead, we should start looking at the structural conditions, the socio-economic causes that give rise to these problems.”
Terence and Foo were also asked if they had second thoughts when the party asked them to run for office again, given the personal and possible financial cost.
Terence, who ran in 2015 alongside his now-wife He Ting Ru, said, “I think we all have second thoughts. I thought: what happens if I get elected? Will I be good enough? Will I be able to represent constituents to the best of my abilities? I tell you, that makes us nervous and gives us sleepless nights.”
While Foo declared that he had not had second thoughts and that his wife is fully supportive, he related an anecdote that alluded to the fear of retribution for being involved in opposition politics.
“When I got married, one of the relatives actually told me, ‘hey, you're in the opposition, have you considered having separate accounts with your wife, don't buy the property together’, and things like that.”
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