The Workers’ Party (WP) has succeeded in attracting younger candidates who possess good qualifications, says political analsyts, who made reference to the lawyers, banking executives and businessmen fielded by the WP in this General Election.
This spread of candidates is on par with high standards that the People’s Action Party (PAP) demands from its own candidates in terms of qualifications.
Of the 19 candidates who will join the nine who have already served as Members of Parliament and Non-Constituency MPs, three had been fielded in previous elections. Nine are aged 40 and below, the youngest being 29-year-old Bernard Chen. The oldest, at 55, is Mr Gurmit Singh. Three are women.
According to Dr Felix Tan of the SIM Global Education, the WP recognizes that it is important to field candidates who have credentials “almost similar” to those from the incumbent PAP.
“Moreover, the Workers’ Party is also seemingly looking around for leadership renewal, and to put forth a group of younger candidates this around would naturally give voters a chance to know who they are,” he says.
The WP has become more able to recruit strong candidates because of its 2011 General Election success. This latest slate of WP candidates has articulated themselves well and showed their desire to be in politics, says Singapore Management University (SMU) law don Eugene Tan.
National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Tan Ern Ser concurred, saying: “The contrast (in caliber) is probably sharper between 2011 and previous elections, rather than between 2011 and 2015.”
However, Dr Felix Tan observed that non-“high flyers” like Ms Lee Li Lian, Mr Png Eng Huat, Mr Yee Jenn Jong and Mr Gerald Giam have done well in elections as well drawing large numbers of votes and winning by good margins.
Assoc Prof Tan Ern Ser said NUS sociologist Daniel Goh was a stand-out for the WP this year. “He possesses outstanding credentials, with a quiet pleasant demeanour, and is a deep thinker with a good grasp of issues,” he said.
Dr Felix Tan added: “Perhaps, the ‘star catch’ this time round would be people like Yee Jenn Jong and Gerald Giam, who have both been getting a lot of positive reviews — not least on social media,” noting that Mr Chen has faded into the background after the initial buzz.