NSP introduces GE’s youngest candidate

liyana
SingaporeScene


National Solidarity Party's (NSP) youngest candidate, 24-year-old Nicole Seah calls herself "an average Singaporean."

The National University of Singapore graduate, who stays in a five-room HDB flat with her parents and two brothers, said, "I do not have a scholarship background, I never read university overseas. I understand how it feels to be stuck in a crowded train, and be stuck in congested traffic."

The advertising executive was officially introduced on Thursday as part of NSP's five-member team contesting in the Marine Parade GRC, going against the People's Action Party team led by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Party secretary-general Goh Meng Seng dismissed claims that it was a deliberate move by NSP to pit Seah against PAP's youngest candidate, Tin Pei Ling. He said, "It was not a sudden decision to field to the team in Marine Parade, in fact, we already started walking the ground last year."

Seah, who is a Peranakan, added that Marine Parade "holds a sentimental value" for her because she spent most of her education there. The former Victoria Junior College and Tanjong Katong Secondary School student said that there is a strong draw to the Marine Parade environment.

Even before she was officially unveiled, Seah was creating a huge buzz online with her candidacy. Her Facebook page has garnered over 5,000 likes while a Facebook poll asking users to choose between her and Tin Pei Ling has shown immense support for Seah.

While some netizens have described her as "a pretty face" who might not be able to represent the people, Seah, who is currently picking up conversational Teochew, said, "If you think that I'm just another pretty face, read my Facebook updates, read my articles, read the interviews that I've done and judge for yourself."

She also shared that although social media is an important platform for her to reach out to young Singaporeans, she felt it is more important to personally connect with people and let them see the person behind the computer screen.

The ex-Reform Party member, who has been with NSP for two years, added, "Politics is not just a flash in the pan, I feel that it's about serving Singapore for the rest of your life, and this is something that I will continue election after election."

Seah's "first political awakening" came in 2003 when she was junior college. After she visited an old lady's house to give her food, she felt that policies needed to change to ensure that poor people do not fall through the cracks.

In the coming election, she wants to engage young Singaporeans in politics and policy-making because they have a stake and a voice that needs to be heard.

"They should not be afraid to take the step forward in what they believe in and make a change," said the former managing editor of an independent campus newspaper.

Her teammate, Abdul Salim, is an example of a pro-active young Singaporean. No stranger to politics, Salim, contested in the 2006 election as a 24-year-old with the Workers' Party "suicide squad" in Ang Mo Kio GRC and was the youngest candidate then.

"When I had to give my first rally speech, I was very nervous because I was scared that I could not interact with the people. But after 2006, now I know that what is important is to be yourself and reach out to the residents with my sincerity," said the 29-year-old warehouse assistant.

Besides Salim, Cheo Chai Chen is the only other candidate in the team with election experience. The 60-year-old was previously elected as an MP for Nee Soon SMC in 1991.

Two former civil servants and first-time candidates, Ivan Yeo, 63, and Spencer Ng, 31, complete the NSP Marine Parade team.

Their team leader, Yeo, who is married with two children, said, "The Marine Parade residents have been neglected because they have not been given a chance to vote for 20 years, so we now are giving them a chance."

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