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Singapore GE2020: Ong Ye Kung takes down video showing young boy as it violates election rules

SINGAPORE – Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has removed a three-minute video from his Facebook page, featuring a young boy living in Sembawang, after he was informed the video violates election rules.

“I had a nice conversation with a boy Jony who lives in Sembawang about how it is a good place to grow up. Jony is a great sport, we had a good chat, and we put up a short (video),” said Mr Ong in a Facebook post on Thursday (July 2).

“However, we have been informed by authorities that this is not in line with electoral rules. We have therefore taken down the video. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

The Parliamentary Elections Act prohibits primary and secondary school students from taking part in election activities between Nomination Day and Polling Day.

This means they are not allowed to appear in a video or take part in activities to promote a political party during this period.

“While this prohibition does not apply outside of this period, political parties should refrain from inappropriate use of young children who will not fully understand what they may be promoting or subjecting themselves to,” the Elections Department website says.

Mr Ong is running for re-election in Sembawang GRC, where he has been overseeing the Gambas ward.

The video shows Mr Ong in conversation with Jony, a boy in school uniform who lives in Sembawang Crescent.

“What are the places in Sembawang that you like?” Mr Ong asks him in the video.

He replies he likes Canberra Park, the beach and the hot springs park. And Mr Ong responds that “there was nothing” in that area before Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak decided to “make this into a nice park”.

The minister also explains the concept of Build-to-Order (BTO) Housing Board flats to Jony.

“Sembawang is growing, with more and more people moving into Sembawang, because it is a happening place, it is a fun place,” Mr Ong says.

“I’m explaining all this to you so that you know, if you support us, these are all the things we will deliver and make life better for you.”

Jony then asks Mr Ong: “But what if you guys don’t get elected?”

This prompts Mr Ong to reply: “Good point.”

The video ends with the phrase “Sayang Sembawang” and “Make Sembawang Special” before the People’s Action Party (PAP) logo is shown.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Singapore GE2020: Elections Department launches multilingual 'assistant' for non-English-speaking voters

SINGAPORE – Voters who primarily speak one of eight non-English languages and dialects can now get more information on the voting process in their native languages.

The Elections Department (ELD) on Wednesday (July 1) rolled out the multilingual Voter Language and Dialect Assistant (Velda) on its website.

The page features answers to 10 frequently asked questions in Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

The questions and answers have also been translated into five Chinese vernacular languages, namely Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese, Hokkien and Teochew.

Audio clips for each of the answers are also available on the page.

Some of the concerns addressed include what to take to the polling station and how to check which polling station to go to.

The ELD said people can use Velda to explain the voting process to non-English-speaking household members.

Members of the public can find the translations on the ELD website.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Singapore GE2020: Singaporeans on stay-home notice at hotels can vote from their rooms

SINGAPORE – Singaporeans serving their stay-home notice (SHN) at hotels can cast their vote on July 10 without leaving their rooms.

Mobile polling teams will go door-to-door to deliver the ballot paper to all voters on SHN at these designated facilities, the Elections Department (ELD) said on Wednesday (July 1).

After opening the room door, the voter has to stand 1m from the door, lower his mask momentarily and show his identity card or passport to the polling team.

After confirming the voter’s identity in the SHN voter register, the team will read out the voter’s electoral division, polling district and voter serial number before handing over the ballot paper.

Once the ballot paper is marked in private, the voter will be prompted to place it into the ballot box. If the room is shared by more than one voter, the team will repeat the process for each voter.

Marina Bay Sands and JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach have been designated as special polling stations for voters serving their SHN in those hotels.

According to a Government Gazette notice on Tuesday, these stations will be established for the polls under the Parliamentary Elections (Covid-19 Special Arrangements) Act.

There will be four stations at Marina Bay Sands, spanning two different towers with each station covering more than 20 levels. There will be one station at JW Marriott.

They will all be open from 8am to 8pm on Polling Day.

The Act, meant to allow Singapore to safely hold an election amid the coronavirus pandemic, lets voters serving their 14-day SHN at designated facilities to vote outside their electoral divisions as they are unable to leave the premises at which they are staying.

Any additional special polling stations will be announced in a notice on the gazette on July 7.

Before the start of polls, the polling team will show to the candidates and polling agents present at the special polling station that the ballot box is empty before sealing it.

A copy of the voter register, will be provided to the candidates and polling agents present.

Candidates and polling agents for the electoral division the voter is in may accompany the team to observe the polling proceedings, but they have to stay at a safe distance.

At the close of polls, the ballot boxes will be sealed and delivered on official buses, under police escort, to the centralised counting centre for counting.

The counting procedure there will be similar to how votes cast by overseas electors are counted.

Once the ballot boxes from all special polling stations have arrived, the assistant returning officer will invite candidates and counting agents present to inspect the sealed ballot boxes.

Ballot papers from the boxes will be mixed first before being sorted by electoral divisions. The papers of each division will then be counted at a specific counting table.

After that, the assistant returning officer will announce the result to the candidates and counting agents present. The result will be transmitted to the principal counting place of that electoral division for tallying.

The counted ballot papers for the various electoral divisions will be sealed into packets and placed into the depository box, which will be transported to the Supreme Court for safekeeping.

Separately, Singaporeans overseas who have registered as voters can vote at the polling stations in 10 cities: Beijing, Canberra, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Tokyo and Washington.

These cities are all places where a significant number of Singaporeans are present.

Voting will take place subject to the approval of the overseas authorities and the prevailing coronavirus situation in those cities, the ELD said.

The overseas polling stations will implement similar safety measures for voting as those in Singapore, including temperature screening and requiring all voters to wear masks.

They will also have to sanitise their hands and put on plastic gloves before collecting a ballot paper.

These polling stations will also implement the special voting hour between 7pm and 8pm on Polling Day. Any voter with a fever of 37.5 deg C and above will be turned away and asked to return during that allocated hour.

During the special voting hour, the overseas election officials will don full personal protective equipment.

Cleaning and disinfecting of the polling equipment, including the booths and self-inking pens, will also be done after every voter’s use.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Singapore GE2020: Could DPM Heng's move change WP's long-term strategy?

In 2011, all eyes were on the Workers’ Party (WP) on Nomination Day.

Up until then, the party had not disclosed its full slate for Aljunied GRC and it was only on the day itself, when then party chief Low Thia Khiang hopped onto a bus with the Aljunied team, that it became clear he would be the one leading the charge there.

Yesterday, a similar scenario played out in East Coast GRC.

But this time, it was the People’s Action Party (PAP) that had kept everyone guessing. With only half an hour left for candidates to file their papers, the ruling party’s last candidate for the constituency was still nowhere to be seen.

Then, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s car entered St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School, the nomination centre for the constituency, providing a surprise answer to one of the day’s biggest questions.

With long-time East Coast MP and former minister Lim Swee Say having stepped down, it was expected that the PAP would send a minister to helm the constituency.

Mr Heng’s inclusion appeared to have been made at the last minute – his name was written into the nomination form and not printed like the rest of his team’s.

Taking the designated leader of the Government’s next generation of leaders out of his own constituency and putting him in one of the most hotly contested GRCs at the last general election was not on anyone’s radar, and the move has repercussions for the WP that may last well beyond the July 10 election.

Since the opposition party’s first foray into East Coast in the 2006 election, its slate in the constituency has always gotten the most buzz, behind only its team in Aljunied GRC.

In 2015, the candidates fielded in East Coast – Mr Gerald Giam, 42, Mr Leon Perera, 49, Dr Daniel Goh, 47, and Mr Fairoz Shariff, 41 – were touted as the party’s next-generation leaders.

Then party chief Mr Low had made an impassioned plea for voters to send them into Parliament. In the end, they fell short with 39.27 per cent of the votes. Still, ever since the WP brought Aljunied into its fold in 2011, it had always seen East Coast as its natural second GRC.

That it is right next to Aljunied GRC provides logistical advantages. East Coast has yielded the WP’s best result in a GRC outside of Aljunied in the last three elections.

It has also been the training ground for the party’s NCMPs, with Mr Perera, Dr Goh and Mr Giam all entering Parliament through the scheme after being the best losers in the election.

Over the years, the constituency has become an important part of the WP’s strategy to expand its base in the east.

And while it withdrew Mr Giam and Mr Perera – the most established names from the East Coast GRC team – to defend Aljunied GRC, it was assumed the retreat was temporary, given the circumstances of this election.

But with the PAP moving its prime minister-designate there, that scrambles the calculus.

If the PAP is to retain East Coast GRC, the WP will have to decide how seriously it wants to challenge what is likely to be the ward of the sitting prime minister.

The party has in the past been careful about presenting itself as a party that wants to unseat the Government. However, if it is then to send its team B elsewhere, it would be sacrificing years of work establishing itself in East Coast GRC.

When asked, WP chief Pritam Singh said yesterday that Mr Heng’s candidacy is “an important signal that they take our challenge in East Coast very seriously”.

He added: “I would say we take their challenge equally seriously and that’s why we’ve put together a strong slate of candidates in the East Coast team.”

Yet, it is undeniable that while the party’s East Coast candidates are no slouches, wealth advisory firm director Dylan Ng, 45, Singapore Cancer Society deputy director Kenneth Foo, 43, lawyer Terence Tan, 49, and former researcher and new face Sharif Kassim, 54, just do not have the profile of Mr Giam and Mr Perera.

The only East Coast candidate who has matched the duo in star power is former National Solidarity Party candidate Nicole Seah, 33. Even then, she lacks the Parliamentary and town council experiences they have amassed.

This development has raised the question of whether the WP had miscalculated in revealing its Aljunied GRC slate too early.

Doing so would have given the PAP more room to make its manoeuvres, since it can be confident that the WP will not pull another last-minute switcheroo and move Mr Singh or party chairman Sylvia Lim to East Coast.

Of course, Mr Heng’s move may still have happened, regardless.

The WP is going into electoral battle for the first time under Mr Singh and it will be the party’s first election since 1991 without Mr Low on its candidate list. WP is also coming off a narrow win in Aljunied GRC in 2015, fuelled in part by the issues raised during the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council saga.

Mr Low has been said to be contemplating retirement and some had speculated that he may move out of Aljunied to make a grab for another GRC, like East Coast.

But the decision for him to step down solidified after he fell at home on April 30 and sustained serious head injuries.

As well, two other stalwarts have also opted not to stand for election – incumbent MPs Chen Show Mao of Aljunied GRC and Png Eng Huat of Hougang.

Having to push ahead with renewal, perhaps partly by choice and partly forced by circumstances, does tie the party’s hands, and announcing its Aljunied slate early may be a signal to voters that it is serious about its home turf.

The party’s decision to field a new face, contracts administrator Tan Chen Chen, 38, in Punggol West, and team up party veteran and former NCMP Yee Jenn Jong with three fresh faces and one former candidate in Marine Parade, are further signs that this election is about consolidation and defending Aljunied and Hougang.

Punggol West SMC was seen by many as the most likely place for the party to secure a seat and there had been speculation that it may have sent Ms Lim or Ms Seah there.

For now, the most talked about WP team is its Sengkang slate, comprising corporate counsel He Ting Ru, 37, economist Jamus Lim, 44, equity research analyst Louis Chua, 33, and social activist Raeesah Khan, 26.

Some have even called this the party’s Team B this election, though only Ms He has been a candidate and the rest are new faces.

Perhaps knowing that the PAP will defend East Coast strongly, the party had already made a gamble to find another GRC to sink its roots.

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Singapore GE2020: Masagos to helm PAP team in Tampines

SINGAPORE – The PAP team set to defend  the Tampines group representation constituency (GRC) comprises Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, 57; Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, 48; Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng, 49; Mr Desmond Choo, 42; and Ms Cheng Li Hui, 44.

The National Solidarity Party slate for Tampines comprises party president Reno Fong Chin Leong, Mohamad Ridzwan, Eugene Yeo Ren Yuan, Choong Hon Heng and Vincent Ng Kian Guan.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, the anchor minister at Tampines, did not appear at Poi Ching School nomination centre on Tuesday (June 30). The primary school is a nomination centre for Tampines GRC and Hougang SMC.

He will be leading a five-man PAP team into the battle for East Coast GRC, which is being contested for the fourth time in electoral history.

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Singapore GE2020: Consolidation rather than growth for opposition parties

With lawyers, businessmen, former civil servants, a finance professional and a professor among the Workers’ Party’s (WP) slate, it is a list that may have sparked charges of elitism if the candidates were wearing white.

In the WP’s blues, they are instead seen as a refreshing change as the opposition has only in recent years started to attract candidates of such calibre.

Continuing a trend that started in earnest from 2011, the WP this time unveiled a slate with more professionals, many in their 30s and 40s.

Party chief Pritam Singh has emphasised several times that the party’s candidates will be good at both providing checks and balances in Parliament and also running town councils, suggesting that they will need some credentials.

All nine of the WP’s new faces are graduates, and they range in age from 26 to 54.

Among them, Dr Jamus Lim, 44, with degrees from the London School of Economics, Harvard University and University of California, Santa Cruz, among other schools, has created the most buzz.

Ms Raeesah Khan, 26, a social activist who started the Reyna Movement to empower women, meanwhile, has sparked some excitement, being the daughter of one-time presidential hopeful Farid Khan.

There is also more gender and racial diversity this time in the party’s slate, putting paid to the criticism before that it is a Chinese party made up mostly of old men.

It has worked hard to shed that image and of its 21 candidates for this election, five are women and seven are from a minority race.

In 2015, it had the same numbers of women and minority candidates, but a pool of 28 candidates.

No other opposition party has been able to consistently attract such quality candidates, and the WP’s ability to do so in successive elections has partly contributed to its image as a serious-minded party that credible people will join.

Though this emphasis on credentials has caused unhappiness within the party’s ranks, with some finding it unfair that older and more humble activists are passed over for candidacy, and others feeling that there is less diversity in terms of class, the party looks set to continue with this formula that has served it well.

For now, it has confirmed only its line-ups for Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC.

Mr Singh has told voters that he will stand in Aljunied, along with current teammates Sylvia Lim and Faisal Manap, as well as Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) Leon Perera and former NCMP Gerald Giam, who will take the places of Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chen Show Mao.


Mr Kumaran Pillai of the Progress Singapore Party speaking to residents at Mayflower Market and Food Centre on Sunday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

In the WP’s blues, they are instead seen as a refreshing change as the opposition has only in recent years started to attract candidates of such calibre. Continuing a trend that started in earnest from 2011, the WP this time unveiled a slate with more professionals, many in their 30s and 40s.

This quelled rumours of a possible move by Ms Lim to Punggol West SMC, Sengkang GRC or East Coast GRC at the last minute.

In Hougang, NCMP Dennis Tan will replace Mr Png Eng Huat.

But the party has so far not disclosed its slate for any of the other constituencies, including the new Sengkang GRC, which some have said could see one of the hottest battles.

Dr Lim, Ms Khan and equity analyst Louis Chua, 33, have all been spotted walking the ground there.

Meanwhile, the party will also be fielding Ms Nicole Seah, 33, a former National Solidarity Party candidate, who has been spotted walking the ground in East Coast.

It is anyone’s guess how these new faces will contribute to the party’s vote share, but at the very least, it has helped the party to solidify itself as a serious opposition party which can bring in good quality people.

As for the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), the biggest newcomer and the opposition party fielding the largest number of candidates, its slate was being watched for the age of its candidates.

This is especially given that when the party was first started last year, it was also thought of by some as an “old man party”.

Its party leader, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, is still set to be the oldest candidate in the election at 80, but the party also has the youngest candidate, 23-year-old law undergraduate Choo Shaun Ming. PSP’s 24 candidates ultimately turned out to be a mix of professionals across age groups.

The party also teased a possible high-profile candidate in the form of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s brother, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, with the 62-year-old doing walkabouts in Tanjong Pagar GRC. The party has, however, strenuously avoided indicating whether he would contest.

Across the other opposition parties, there is a sense from the slates of candidates fielded that the election is one of consolidation rather than growth.

Other than the new parties like the PSP, Red Dot United and Peoples Voice, all other opposition parties are fielding the same number of or fewer candidates than they did in 2015, and most have slates that feature fewer new faces than they did at the past election.

The slates for the likes of Reform Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) feature a large majority of those who had contested for the parties before. The People’s Power Party (PPP) is set to field a single candidate, its party chief Goh Meng Seng.

The Singapore Democratic Party, which was among the first parties to give a strong indication of their line-ups, looks to be fielding the same team leaders for its group representation constituencies that it did in 2015.

From its likely line-up, only three have never stood for an election before: director of a food and beverage chain Alfred Tan, 54; marketing communications professional Min Cheong, 35; and entrepreneur Robin Low, 45. The party looks set to contest the same five constituencies it did in 2015.

For the Singapore People’s Party, which went through a leadership renewal last year, this election also marks one of the smallest line-ups fielded by the party. Its GRC team sees long-time party members step into the candidate role.

Perhaps its most notable new face is its new party chairman Jose Raymond, 48, who works as the chief strategy officer of a communications firm.

For some like PPP’s Mr Goh and SDA chairman Desmond Lim, this will be the last hurrah. Both have indicated that they will be bowing out after this general election, perhaps paving the way for more consolidation in the opposition camp in future.

Additional reporting by Fabian Koh

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Singapore GE2020: Key proposals from the Progress Singapore Party manifesto

SINGAPORE – The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) on Monday (June 29) launched its manifesto for the coming general election, with “You Deserve Better” as its campaign slogan.

With proposals focused on a more compassionate approach to policymaking, the 13-page manifesto outlines the party’s vision for Singapore in three broad areas: economy, social and politics.

Here are key points from the manifesto presented by PSP vice-chairman Hazel Poa:

1. Jobs for Singaporeans

The PSP proposes limiting the number of foreign workers here by introducing a quota for employment passes and lowering the existing quota for S Pass and work permits issued.

The party will also review free trade agreements, especially those that touch on labour exchange, like the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca).

2. Living wage

After the economy stabilises, the PSP wants to introduce  in all sectors a living wage, which is the minimum salary that meets the costs of living for workers here.

It will also increase the amount given out under the Workfare Income Supplement scheme, and raise the cash portion of the payout from 40 per cent to 80 per cent. The scheme is targeted at local workers whose earnings are in the bottom 20 per cent, with some support for those slightly above, through a mix of CPF top-ups and cash payouts.

3. Central Provident Fund (CPF)

The party is calling for the amount that can be withdrawn from the CPF when an individual reaches 55 to be increased. While CPF members can currently withdraw up to $5,000 from their CPF Ordinary Account and Special Account after 55, the PSP is calling for the amount to be raised to $50,000.

It is also calling for premiums for the basic health insurance plan MediShield Life to be paid for by the Government.

4. Taxes and fees

The PSP wants to freeze all tax and fee increases for the next five years. The Government has said that the goods and services tax (GST), which will remain at 7 per cent next year, will have to be raised to 9 per cent by 2025. Basic necessities, such as rice and cooking oil, will also be exempt from GST under the PSP’s plan.

5. Housing

The party is calling for redevelopment en bloc for all old Housing Board flats. It will also peg the prices of new flats to income levels. For example, four-room flats which are the “middle housing types”, explained Ms Poa, will be tied to the median income level so that it remains affordable regardless of the economic situation.

6. Freedom of speech and expression

PSP will review the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), Singapore’s anti-fake news law which was passed in May last year.

7. Public service

Ministerial salaries should be cut and pegged to the country’s median income, according to the PSP’s manifesto. The party is also calling for public spending to be frugal, and huge projects such as Changi Airport Terminal 5 to be subject to greater scrutiny. Public services, including public transport and utilities, should also not be profit-making.

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan retires from politics: Read PM Lee's valedictory letter

SINGAPORE – Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, 67, is retiring from politics after 19 years.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, for his lifetime of public service to Singapore in a valedictory letter released to the media on Friday (June 26).

Here is his letter in full:

26 June 2020

Mr Khaw Boon Wan

Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport

Dear Boon Wan,

As you retire from politics, I write to thank you for your lifetime of public service to Singapore.

You entered politics in 2001, after a distinguished public service career. By chance, the years of both your joining and leaving politics have been marked by global crises – then the aftermath of September 11, and now the Covid-19 pandemic. They bookend a remarkable political career, during which you have taken on the most challenging jobs in the Cabinet. In your quiet, unassuming way, you have made a huge and lasting contribution, and strengthened Singaporeans’ faith that this Government can and will solve their problems and improve their lives.

One of your first appointments after being elected was to the Ministry of Health (MOH). Healthcare was not new to you, having run several hospitals as a civil servant. When the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) outbreak happened, you were Senior Minister of State. You were on the front line, going into the hospitals to check on the arrangements and encourage the medical staff. Subsequently, you took over as Minister for Health from Mr Lim Hng Kiang. Learning the painful lessons of Sars, you instituted new processes and extensive preparations, to get us ready for the next novel disease outbreak. These served us well when Covid-19 came upon us.

At MOH, you also reformed MediShield and MediSave, and introduced ElderShield. These fundamental reforms reassured many Singaporeans that healthcare costs would remain affordable. You expanded our healthcare capacity significantly, laying the groundwork for Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Sengkang General Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, and establishing the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School as Singapore’s second medical school.

After the 2011 General Election, you took on the National Development portfolio. Your immediate task was to assuage public concerns about HDB waiting times and affordability. You ramped up the HDB building programme, reduced Built-to-Order (BTO) waiting times and introduced policies to enable newlyweds to own their first flat earlier and live near their parents. These measures gave young Singaporeans the confidence that an affordable home would always be within their reach.

At the same time, you advanced plans to remake Singapore into a liveable and sustainable city. In the URA Master Plan 2014, you set out our vision to expand the city centre to the Greater Southern Waterfront, and to extend our Park Connector Network throughout Singapore and make us a City in a Garden. Future generations will build on these lasting legacies.

Having helmed Health and National Development, no one would have begrudged you lighter responsibilities in the subsequent term. Yet after the 2015 General Election, you volunteered to take on the politically spiky transport portfolio, and later to serve as Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure. Our immediate priority was to improve the reliability of our MRT system. To achieve this, you set a target of one million mean kilometres between failures (MKBF), which at the time many thought unrealistic. But in the first quarter of this year, our MRT system not only achieved your target but surpassed it, hitting 1.4 million MKBF. This dramatic achievement is the product of a huge amount of hard work, your encouragement for the regulator and rail operators to work together as one team, your strengthening of rail engineering capabilities, and your emphasis on the crucial but often unnoticed work of continuous system maintenance and timely asset renewal.

Externally, you strengthened Singapore’s air hub and sea hub status. On your watch, Singapore was successfully re-elected to the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council and International Maritime Organisation Council. You pushed for the construction of Changi Runway 3, Changi Airport Terminal 5 and the Tuas Megaport. These projects have been affected by the current uncertainties, and the schedules have to be adjusted and plans reviewed, especially for Terminal 5. But we are determined that Singapore should remain an air and sea hub, and these long term investments will help consolidate Singapore’s position in the post-Covid-19 world.

With Malaysia, we concluded complicated negotiations on the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail. Due to changes of government in Malaysia and the pandemic, both projects have been delayed, but discussions continue with our Malaysian counterparts to reach a win-win outcome. With Indonesia too, airspace remains a complex and sensitive bilateral issue under discussion. In both cases, your personal rapport with foreign counterparts has proved invaluable.

Besides your Ministerial duties, you also made significant contributions to the People’s Action Party. After the disappointing results of the 2011 General Election, you led the post-mortem to identify where the Party had fallen short. You presented your conclusions and recommendations at the 2011 Party Conference, where they were actively debated. That was a watershed moment for the PAP. The honest introspection and self-critique set the Party on a fresh course. Following that Conference, you became Party Chairman taking over from Lim Boon Heng, and played your part to drive change from within. This contributed much to our decisive win in the 2015 General Election.

As an MP, you are well known for being dedicated and responsive to residents. You were active in bringing the community together, and infusing the kampung spirit in your residents. You took special pride in keeping Sembawang clean and green, and residents often encountered you when you took walks in Sembawang Park to relax. Sayang Sembawang, your community tagline, encapsulated your efforts to make Sembawang an endearing home.

You were in my Cabinet since day one, and have been one of my most reliable lieutenants. Beyond your own portfolios, your comments on matters put before Cabinet always went to the heart of the matter, and focussed our minds on the key considerations and trade-offs. Beyond your ministerial and political contributions, I have deeply appreciated our personal friendship, and greatly benefitted from your advice. You were the one who in 2012 suggested that I venture into social media, which I had until then considered a foreign land, to engage an audience not likely to follow my speeches and statements in detail. Having now done it for eight years, I have found it a fascinating and worthwhile journey.

For the younger Ministers, you have been a role model and a source of sage advice. They look to you to learn not only how to solve difficult problems, but also your seemingly effortless way of explaining nettlesome issues to Singaporeans. I am thus happy that even after you retire, you have agreed to continue to be available to advise your successors on the issues that you have handled as a Minister, and to share with them your experience and wisdom.

On behalf of all Singaporeans, and especially your residents in Sembawang, I thank you for all that you have done for Singapore, and wish you a happy, healthy and well-deserved retirement.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Hsien Loong

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Singapore GE2020: Profiles of Workers' Party's new candidates

The opposition Workers’ Party (WP) will contest in four group representation constituencies and two single-member constituencies in the general election on July 10.

In addition to defending Aljunied GRC, which it first won in 2011, and its north-eastern bastion of Hougang SMC, the party said it will also contest in Marine Parade GRC, Sengkang GRC, East Coast GRC and Punggol West SMC.

WP chief Pritam Singh announced this at a virtual press conference on Thursday (June 25), during which the party leaders also introduced four candidates.

Here’s a look at the candidates’ profiles:

LOUIS CHUA KHENG WEE, 33

Equity research analyst with a global investment bank


PHOTO: WORKERS’ PARTY

As an equity research analyst with a global investment bank, Mr Chua advises investors on whether they should put money in a particular company.

His work has taught him the value of transparency, disclosure requirements, and the presence of external parties, such as regulators and an independent board of directors, to ensure proper corporate governance.

“It is with this understanding that I strongly believe that a monopoly in government is never a good thing without an effective opposition in Parliament,” said Mr Chua, one of two new candidates introduced yesterday by the Workers’ Party (WP).

Mr Chua has a degree in accountancy from the Singapore Management University and is a qualified chartered accountant.

Building a more resilient society means recognising that dissenting views should not only be accepted but also encouraged, he said.

“This will ensure that we come up with the best ideas to take Singapore forward,” said Mr Chua, who is married with a nine-month-old son.

He said: “I really care deeply for the future of Singapore that my son will grow up in.”

NICOLE SEAH, 33

Associate director at a multinational marketing group


PHOTO: WORKERS’ PARTY

Ms Seah is a familiar face on the campaign trail, having been the star candidate of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) in the 2011 General Election. She did not run in 2015, but will this time as a candidate for the Workers’ Party (WP).

At a virtual press conference yesterday, the associate director at a multinational marketing group said she recognised that returning to the political scene would mean increased scrutiny.

“To be honest, I’m having a very stable career right now, my personal life is in a very good state,” she said. “But I do it for the party, because I believe in the leadership and I believe in the vision, and I do it for my daughter.”

Ms Seah, who is married with a one-year-old daughter, added: “I want to leave behind a legacy for her where she would feel comfortable regardless of the political inclinations or the kinds of views that she’s expressing.”

Ms Seah, who resigned from the NSP in 2014 and has volunteered with WP since 2015, said she was drawn to the ethos of the WP, which believes in “building a strong and reasonable opposition that contributes to our political landscape in Singapore in a constructive manner”.

MUHAMMAD AZHAR ABDUL LATIP, 34

Grab driver and small business owner


PHOTO: WORKERS’ PARTY

Mr Azhar lost his left leg in a road traffic accident in 2014.

And the experience of having a disability highlighted for him the need for a more inclusive society in Singapore – a cause he hopes to champion if elected to Parliament.

“We want to be an inclusive society, but when it comes to the disabled groups, it tends to be… lip service,” said Mr Azhar, who was one of two first-time candidates introduced yesterday by the Workers’ Party.

Mr Azhar, who has volunteered at food distribution and community outreach programmes in Aljunied GRC, holds a political science degree from the National University of Singapore.

He was a marine insurance broker with an international brokerage when the accident occurred.

He is now a Grab driver and small business owner.

Mr Azhar, who is divorced with a child, said: “That is one thing I would like to change in society… (I want to help) disabled groups to make sure they are being assisted, that those who want to work are given equal opportunities for employment and receive the help they deserve.”

YEE JENN JONG, 55

Entrepreneur


PHOTO: WORKERS’ PARTY

Mr Yee Jenn Jong ran and lost to candidates from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) in the 2011 and 2015 general elections.

On July 10, he will stand for the third time as a candidate for the Workers’ Party (WP), because he believes Singapore needs a strong alternative in Parliament.

“Only when there’s competition would the PAP listen to you,” said Mr Yee at a press conference yesterday. “In business, we need anti-monopoly laws to keep companies from taking advantage of consumers and to keep on innovating. The same goes for politics as well.”

In 2011, Mr Yee narrowly lost to Mr Charles Chong of the PAP in Joo Chiat SMC with 48.99 per cent of the vote.

The single-member constituency was absorbed into Marine Parade GRC in 2015, and Mr Yee was fielded as part of the WP’s slate of five candidates then. The WP garnered 35.9 per cent of votes.

Mr Yee said he continues to be active on the ground, and has initiated community projects in Marine Parade GRC, such as distributing food to lower-income families since the start of the circuit breaker.

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