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SINGAPORE — The former chairman of opposition party Singaporeans First (SingFirst) and a law undergraduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS), are amongst the second batch of candidates that the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) confirmed on Tuesday (22 June).
In its second Zoom introduction, the opposition party unveiled six more candidates, including law student Choo Shaun Ming, the youngest PSP has fielded so far at 23 years old.
Former SingFirst Chairman Dr Ang Yong Guan, 65, who ran under the SingFirst banner in the 2015 General Election, was also amongst the new candidates. He left SingFirst in January this year and joined PSP the next month.
The remaining four are: Academic and former fellow of Institute of Policy Studies Dr Tan Meng Wah, 57; chartered accountant Kayla Low, 43; business consultant and trainer A’bas Kasmani, 67; and technologist Harish Pillay, 60.
Tuesday’s press conference comes just five days after PSP confirmed its first batch of six candidates on 18 June. They are: Francis Yuen Kin Pheng, 70; Gigene Wong, 54; party vice-chairman Hazel Poa, 50; Sri Nallakaruppan, 56; Bradley Bowyer, 53; and Muhammad Taufik Supan, 40.
PSP secretary-general Dr Tan Cheng Bock described his second batch of candidates as “very ordinary Singaporeans” representing “a spread of talent from all walks of life”.
Youngest candidate fielded
On his youngest candidate, Tan said that many had questioned him for fielding a university student. Tan’s response was that he was simply looking for people to stand on the “same stage” as him, describing Choo as the “future”.
“He was indeed very young compared to other members, then I found him quite a good chap... many wonder how can a student become a member of parliament if he gets elected, but my party is not a one-man party, the party will back every member who stands in a constituency, we are coming in as a team.”
Dr Tan added that there was a space for young Singaporeans to participate in politics and offer their viewpoints.
Asked by Yahoo News Singapore if Choo’s youth might put him at a disadvantage with older voters, Choo replied, “Older Singaporeans will be thinking about their children’s future. (They want) to know the next generation will also have a bright future in Singapore.”
“My hope is that other young people will see themselves being represented, that they know that their opinion matters and that their voice, when they speak, is heard.”
Four of the candidates chipped in as well, with Tan Meng Wah and Harish noting that Choo was the age of their daughter and son respectively. The candidates commented that while concerned about his age initially, Choo proved to be sharp and natural on the ground as well as willing to learn.
A’bas Kasmani, 67
A’bas has over 40 years of management, coaching, training, facilitating and advisory experience and is concerned about issues of income inequality and others faced by the Malay community. He is committed to increasing educational opportunities
Harish Pillay, 60
Harish is the founder of Red Hat Singapore, the ASEAN headquarters of Red Hat Inc, a US company which was acquired by IBM in 2019 via a cash offer of $30billion. He is also an adjunct professor at the Nanyang Technological University. His interest is in technology, which he seeks to use to accelerate the transformation of Singapore into a Smart Nation with first-class living standards and jobs for Singaporeans.
Kayla Low Shu Yu, 43
Low was a chief operating officer and international finance professional with over 10 years of experience operating in a global environment. The mother of two sons and a daughter currently runs a group of 11 local and four overseas companies spanning retail, manufacturing, transportation and travel. She will advocate for causes such as the needy and local small-medium enterprises that have been hit by the pandemic.
Low was also a prison officer where she helped prisoners reintegrate into society and reconnect with their families.
She said, “I’m not a yes man, not a scholar and not an elite. My life was difficult, I have gone through the hardship (and) I feel the ground well. When in prison service, I counselled many prisoners... I understand their hardship.”
Ang Yong Guan, 65
Dr Ang was formerly with the Singapore Armed forces (SAF) for 23 years, 17 of which he spent as the chief psychiatrist before he retired in 2003. After retiring from the SAF, he set up his own clinic at Paragon Medical, where he currently works. He is a visiting lecturer at the Nanyang Polytechnic and the Executive Counselling and Training Academy.
He said, “I have been a psychiatrist for more than 30 years. My strength lies in understanding people, what makes people tick.And to me, a nation is comprising of people, mentally healthy people, we would have a mentally strong and resilient country... economic growth and prosperity must be accompanied by a sense of emotional security, and a certain pride and dignity to be a Singaporean.”
Tan Meng Wah, 57
Dr Tan Meng Wah was with the Institute of Policy Studies until 2014 and held several academic positions at the various varsities in Singapore. He wishes to focus on the issues of rising income inequality and high housing costs.
He said, “Even though Singapore has become wealthier as a country, but households in the lower, lower rungs are facing mounting economic hardship...if it is allowed to continue, I'm worried that it may eventually hit all future generations of young Singaporeans.”
Choo Shaun Ming, 23
Choo, a law undergraduate at NUS, is concerned about job security and satisfaction in the workforce. As a millennial, he feels that the policies from the past are no longer relevant and is running as a candidate to “secure a brighter future” for others like him.
“Many of my peers or juniors I have spoken to have the opinion that existing policies that have worked for their parents will not work for them... When young people like myself look out into the horizon, we see that the rainbow (Lee Kuan Yew) spoke of doesn’t exist anymore,” he said in his bio. The SkillsFuture scheme, for example, has not met the needs of a rapidly changing world disrupted by new technology, according to Choo.
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