GE2020: Low Thia Khiang urges voters to vote for next generation of opposition members
SINGAPORE — Former Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang insisted that he is not stepping away completely from the political arena, and will continue to serve the public by imparting knowledge and sharing his experiences with the younger generation.
The 63-year-old had decided not to take part in this year’s General Election, after serving 29 years as a Member of Parliament for Hougang single-member constituency (SMC) and Aljunied group representation constituency (GRC) – the longest-serving opposition party member in Singapore.
While he had suffered a serious fall in April, he insisted that he had always planned to step down at this GE – a natural progression from his handing over of the WP secretary-general post to Pritam Singh during the party’s 60th anniversary dinner in 2017.
On Wednesday (8 July), the WP put up two videos on its Facebook page – one in Mandarin, one in Teochew – with Low explaining his decision not to contest at this GE as well as encouraging voters to vote for the next generation of opposition party members come Polling Day on Friday.
“I will continue to groom politicians who can debate effectively in Parliament against the ruling party, and to fight for the interests of the people,” he said in the videos.
“After 29 years in Parliament, the Workers’ Party has secured six elected Parliamentary seats. We must maintain the momentum by voting for capable young candidates, to cultivate a new generation of politicians and establish a rational, responsible and respected Workers’ Party.”
Experiences of discrimination prompted entry into politics
Low said that he had hoped to thank his supporters at rallies and house visits during the GE campaign, but as the GE is held amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he decided to convey his “heartfelt appreciation” through video.
He related how his experience of being discriminated as a Chinese-educated student, as well as his witnessing of how students were impacted by the “unfair” streaming policy, prompted him to resign as a teacher and enter politics all those years ago.
“After I was elected in 1991 in Hougang, people doubted my ability to represent voters, as government correspondence and most parliamentary debates were carried out in the English language,” he said in the video.
“Despite the attacks and ridicules against me, I persisted in voicing out, because this is my conviction.”
Low added that, having experienced “lawsuits, smearing campaigns and an uneven playing field in the political system”, he is even more convinced now that Singapore needs a rational and responsible opposition party.
He said that, in the WP’s momentous victory at Aljunied GRC in 2011, voters have delivered a “tight slap” to the ruling party, and effectively conveyed the people’s expectations of achieving democratic progress and improvements to their lives.
“The opportunities you have given to the Workers’ Party over the years have encouraged young aspiring Singaporeans to join us, and they now form the next-generation leaders. We owe it to the voters for where the Workers’ Party stands today,” he said.
More opposition members for holistic discussion in Parliament: Low
Low ended off his video by urging voters to vote for WP candidates. He posed the question whether, in these uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singaporeans can rely solely on the ruling party to take care of people in need.
“We ought to groom more opposition members with alternative suggestions and opinions to enter the Parliament, to provide a holistic discussion on policies,” he said.
“At the same time, we will let the ruling party know that the support of the people must never be taken for granted, or like a blank cheque for the government to use at will.”
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