Low Thia Khiang: Future role at Workers’ Party depends on younger leaders’ needs

Nigel Chin
Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang (right) announced at WP’s 60th anniversary celebratory dinner that he will step down from his post next year after the . Photo: Yahoo News Singapore/Nicholas Yong

The Workers’ Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang said on Wednesday (8 November) that his future role after he steps down as secretary-general next year will depend on the needs of the opposition party’s younger leaders.

Low’s comments at a Meet-The-People (MPS) session in the Bedok Reservoir area come after his announcement last Friday (3 November) at WP’s 60th anniversary celebratory dinner that he will not be challenging for the top post at the next party leadership election in 2018.

The 61-year-old Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC said then that WP has “a team of younger leaders who are ready to drive the party forward”.

Speaking to reporters before his MPS session, Low replied to a question on his role after the WP election, “It depends on the situation, what needs the party has, and what are the needs of the younger generation (of WP leaders).”

Low also declined to name any potential successor, saying it is a matter for the party to decide. In the last party leadership election in May 2016, Low defeated fellow Aljunied GRC MP Chen Show Mao by 61 to 45 votes.

“I think everybody has a right to contest…as it’s an open contest. Anybody can offer themselves as a candidate for the role (of secretary-general),” he said.

When asked whether he will be contesting in the next General Election, which must be held by 15 January 2021, the political veteran said it is “too early” to tell.

“There’s still some time to go. Things can change, the world is changing very fast,” said Low.

His decision to step down comes amid two ongoing lawsuits filed against him and two other Aljunied GRC MPs by independent panels on behalf of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and Pasir-Ris Punggol Town Council. Low, together with Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh, are being taken to court for alleged breach of fiduciary duties in relation to payments of up to $33.7 million to AHTC’s former managing agent and service provider, FM Solutions and Services (FMSS).

Low conceded that there are concerns about WP’s future but he believes that the party still has a strong support base.

“I’m sure the people will give the younger generation their support. This is always the kind of concern that every change of leadership will have,” Low said.

“The party has come thus far, Singapore has come thus far. I’m sure people won’t (stop their support) just because I step down. I think they do understand that I’m 61 years old, I’ve been in politics for so many years,” he added.