Singapore GE2020: Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang, Chen Show Mao and Png Eng Huat step down, will not contest election

SINGAPORE – Former Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang, as well as party stalwarts Chen Show Mao and Png Eng Huat, will not be standing as candidates during the general election on July 10.

WP chief Pritam Singh made the shock announcement at the end of a virtual press conference on Thursday (June 25), saying that the party leadership came to this collective decision with the three men some time ago, when all three shared their wishes to step down at the end of their term.

“However their decision to step down is not a retirement,” said Mr Singh.

This collective decision, is based on three considerations, all of which are anchored on the continued success of the Workers’ Party.

This includes the need to broaden the leadership base, while ensuring that younger members can be trained and mentored by the senior leaders, said Mr Singh.

New and younger leaders require parliamentary and town council experience, he said, and the time is right for the WP to have its senior leaders contribute in a different capacity.

“They remain critical as the party’s resource of information and experience,” said Mr Singh during the press conference, where the party introduced two first-time candidates.

They include research analyst at an investment bank Louis Chua Kheng Wee, 33, and Mr Muhammad Azhar Abdul Latip, 34, a gig economy worker.

But, Mr Singh added: “The above two were reasons that Mr Low and I agreed on. But I took some time to reflect on the third reason before I was eventually persuaded.”

Mr Low had said it was critical that the party remained relevant to all Singaporeans, whether they are new citizens, seniors, middle-aged, or young people, said Mr Singh.

“But 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,” he said.

“If a WP MP becomes too detached from new norms and the changing shape of society, the party will be less effective at speaking for Singaporeans in Parliament, and runs the risk of becoming irrelevant,” said Mr Singh.

The party has been fortunate to count on the leadership of Mr Low, Mr Chen and Mr Png, said Mr Singh.

“And all of us as at Workers’ Party will continue working and walking together, standing on the shoulders of the values Mr Low and other elder members have built,” he said.

For the upcoming general election, Mr Singh said two party members which had served as Non-Constituency MPs, Mr Gerald Giam and Mr Leon Perera, will stand in Aljunied GRC in place of Mr Low and Mr Chen.

Party organising secretary Dennis Tan, also an NCMP in the last term of Parliament, will stand in Hougang SMC, Mr Singh said.

Mr Low entered politics in 1988, losing in his first outing as a WP candidate in Tiong Bahru GRC. He became MP after winning the Hougang seat at his second election in 1991, and has served as MP since.

The history books will remember Mr Low as the first opposition leader to win a group representation constituency. He led the WP team to victory in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 election.

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