Sun, Feb 20, 2011
The New Paper
By Tay Shi'An
"WRITE 'NO' in capitals. Whichever font you would like to use... Is that crystal clear?"
That was actor Tay Ping Hui's emphatic response when asked if he will be contesting in the coming General Election.
Then he teased: "Not this election at least."
Mr Tay's name is one of 14 on a list that has been circulating online on various political websites, forums and blogs. This list of so-called "expected" new candidates for the People's Action Party (PAP) comprises mainly high-fliers, including three doctors and three bankers.
Mr Tay has been linked to politics in recent months because of his involvement in Young PAP (YP), of which he has been a member for three years.
Speculation about his political ambitions was sparked particularly by his appearance alongside Members of Parliament (MPs) Teo Ser Luck and Baey Yam Kengas a fellow panellist in a public dialogueonpersonality politics organised by YP last month.
But Mr Tay, 41, said: "The topic of the event is personality politics. So they wanted to have a so-called personality.
"So you know, MP, minister (sic: Mr Teo is a senior parliamentary secretary) and actor."
While he would consider joining politics because he feels "it's an honour to be able to serve the people", Mr Tay said he has not been invited for any "tea sessions" with the Prime Minister or any other ministers and is not active in grassroots.
He said: "There are a lot of events I can't attend because of filming schedules.
"We actors don't really have a life. Time is always very tight. Onceon a project, it's very hard."
Hedid not know of this list until The New Paper told him about it. But he said: "I don't think people should take it that seriously."
While some netizens seem to be doing just that, even referring to it as a "leaked" list, several of those on it besides Mr Tay have also told The New Paper they will not be standing for elections.
One example is Mr Lam Pin Woon, 52, who left his post as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to join Healthway Medical as president andexecutive director last month.
He said: "No, no. I left HPB because I'd like to pursue new challenges in the private sector.
"There's always all sorts of speculation when senior civil servants leave the public service... (The list) is not correct as far as I'm concerned."
Similarly, Keppel Integrated Engineering CEO Tay Lim Heng replied via e-mail: "The report on me in the website is incorrect."
Mr Oon Jin Teik, who left Singapore Sports Council last December as CEO and is nowat Hyflux, where he is group executive vice-president and CEO, China, laughed when he heard his name was on the list.
He will be relocating to Shanghai for a few years come April and is currently there on a business trip.
He joked: "I don't think politicians can do their work virtually."
The rest of the list comprise mostly names that have already been associated with the PAP or YP, and highlighted as potential candidates in recent media reports, such as Mr Ong Ye Kung, 41, assistant secretary-general at the National Trades Union Congress.
Medical doctor and YP exco member Dr Tan Wu Meng, 35, who is now serving in the grassroots at Jalan Besar and has been mentioned in several news reports, said in an e-mail: "I do not know whether I will be contesting in the coming GE."
As speculation continues about PAP candidates, the opposition parties have been busy ramping up their activities as well.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) unveiled its Shadow Budget 2011 on Wednesday, as an alternative to the Government's budget, which will be out today.
The project was headed by SDP's Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, 40, son of former Raffles Institution principal Eugene Wijeysingha.
SDP chief Dr Chee Soon Juan said their budget's key focuses are lowering the cost of livingand creating jobs.
Their full budget will soon be uploaded on their website.
Both Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) secretary- generalDesmondLim and National Solidarity Party (NSP) chief Goh Meng Seng said their parties are ready for the elections.
Each listed specific constituencies they wish to contest in.
Mr Lim said the party has been conducting weekly walkabouts in the Pasir Ris-Punggol area since immediately after the 2006 GE.
Plans to raise funds
Plans to raise funds through a self-published comic bookand souvenirs are also in the pipeline.
Mr Goh said the NSP will soon be launching its Youth Guild and will announce its manifesto next monthafter the Budget debates.
Its members have also increased the frequency of their walk abouts and have seen "significant increase" in sales of their party newspaper, North Star.
Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam set up a blog this month, which he has been actively updating.
Ms Sylvia Lim, chairman of the Workers' Party, said it was not appropriate to comment on her party's state of preparedness at this juncture, and they expect to make announcements to the media in due course.