GE2020: Former Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang will not be standing for election

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Workers' Party MP for Aljunied GRC Low Thia Khiang. FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore
Workers' Party MP for Aljunied GRC Low Thia Khiang. FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore

SINGAPORE — Former Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang will not be standing for the General Election (GE) on 10 July.

Fellow Aljunied GRC MP Chen Show Mao and Hougang SMC MP Png Eng Huat will also not be seeking re-election.

In a virtual press conference in which new candidates were unveiled, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh also revealed that its members Gerald Giam and Leon Perera will stand in Aljunied GRC, and Dennis Tan will contest in Hougang SMC.

On the three members who will not be standing, Pritam said that the decision was made “quite some time ago” after Low, Chen and Png shared their wish to step down after the current term.

However, Pritam stressed that the decision was not akin to a retirement and that the team took into account three considerations; broadening its leadership base by renewing its Members of Parliament, providing mentorship and training to younger leaders, and staying in touch with Singapore.

“If there is no renewal of Workers’ Party MPs (Members of Parliament), over time, the party will not be able to attract new members to join and aspire to serve Singapore and Singaporeans as opposition MPs,” said Pritam. The absence of new blood will set the party back in its growth as a credible and institutionalised opposition in Singapore, he added.

“Mr Low shared with me that it was critical for the Workers’ Party to remain relevant to all Singaporeans... 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,” Pritam said.

“If a Workers’ Party MP becomes too detached from new norms and the changing shape of society, the Workers’ Party will be less effective in speaking for Singaporeans in Parliament and run the risk of becoming irrelevant.”

He added that the time was right for WP to have senior leaders who contributed in a different capacity.

“They remain critical as the party's resource of information and experience,” he said.

Low was also in the news recently when he had a fall on 30 April and was admitted to the intensive care unit of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital with a head injury. He was discharged after 21 days.

The longest-serving opposition MP in Singapore won Hougang SMC in GE2006 against the incumbent People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Eric Low Siak Meng.

He is best known for leading the WP team to a historic victory in Aljunied over the PAP in GE2011 - the first time that an opposition party had won a GRC. The team retained the GRC in GE2015.

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