Don't 'pigeonhole' new PAP candidates just based on their background: Chan Chun Sing

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor

Chan Chung Sing, second assistant secretary-general for the People's Action Party, addresses reporters at a virtual briefing on Friday, 26 June 2020. (PHOTO: People's Action Party)

SINGAPORE — Voters should avoid pigeonholing the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) new slate of candidates just because they hail from a certain profession, said the party’s second assistant secretary-general Chan Chun Sing on Friday (26 June).

“We have people from the business sector, people from the social sector, people from the public service sector. So I think we have covered the various sectors. But more importantly, beyond just where they come from, we should avoid pigeonhol(ing) people just because of their profession,” said Chan, who was addressing a virtual press conference where he introduced four new candidates.

“I think all of them, each and every one of them, has a personality that deserves us to get to know them better, rather than to pigeonhole them into any particular profession or any particular character, just because they are from a certain background. I think that is the real diversity that we are (talking) about.”

Chan was responding to a question about online chatter that many of the PAP’s new candidates hail from the same backgrounds as current and former parliamentarians: civil servants, military personnel, doctors and lawyers. He was asked if the new slate of candidates is diverse in name only, and whether this might contribute to the danger of groupthink.

Chan added, “What distinguishes Singapore from many other countries is that we can have very robust debate. But once we make a decision on the way forward, having considered the trade offs, we will all be united to make sure that we execute it well.”

The 50-year-old introduced a quartet of candidates on Friday morning, bringing the total number of new faces unveiled to 27. They are: Carrie Tan Huimin, 38, executive director of the NGO Daughters of Tomorrow; Chan Hui Yih, 44, marketing director of Jingslink Marketing; Shawn Huang Wei Zhong, 38, director (enterprise development group) of Temasek Holdings; and Mariam Jaafar, 43, managing director and partner of Boston Consulting Group.

‘Don’t look at me as just another general’

New People's Action Party candidate Gan Siow Huang, 46, addressing reporters at a virtual briefing on Friday, 26 June 2020. Gan was the Singapore Armed Forces' first female general. PHOTO: People's Action Party

In an earlier event, perhaps the most high profile of the PAP’s new faces was also introduced: Gan Siow Huang, 46, deputy chief executive of e2i and the first female general in the Singapore Armed Forces.

In response to a question about criticism of the PAP fielding yet another general and what sets her apart from her political predecessors, she also asked not to be pigeonholed, “Don't look at me as just another general, look at me for who I am.”

“I do often get asked, do military people make good politicians? I think there's a fair question. But I ask that we don't stereotype people. Just like you don't stereotype races, you don't stereotype groups, I ask that people don't stereotype military people,” said Gan who added that she had gained a wealth of experience in 25 years in the SAF, including in long-term planning, capability development, policy work and manpower.

Chan also revealed that PAP secretary-general and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be unveiling the party’s manifesto on Saturday. In a Facebook post, the PAP said he will share strategies to rebuild Singapore's economy and strengthen our society.

Thereafter, the party will progressively introduce the lineups for the respective Group Representation Constituencies and Single Member Constituency teams.

Asked why the PAP had unveiled 27 new candidates in the span of just three days, Chan said, “We are having this election under very difficult circumstances. We are all working on a compressed timing. So when the Prime Minister decided to call for the election (on) Tuesday, we will want to introduce our candidates as soon as possible, so that the public has as much time as possible to get to know them.”

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