Country before family

Country before family
NEW HOPE: Lawyer Tan Lam Siong, the new secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party believes in 'peolitics' - getting people more engaged in politics.

What comes first, the country's interest or family?

Without hesitating, lawyer Tan Lam Siong picked the former.

"How can you raise a family properly otherwise?" asked the newly elected secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party (NSP).

Mr Tan, 53, takes over from Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, 51, also a lawyer.

The New Paper understands that instead of contesting the secretary-general position again, Mrs Chong-Aruldoss had tried for the position of president at the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) elections, held every two years, on Sunday.

She did not get the post.

Instead, Mr Sebastian Teo, 66, was re-elected to his sixth consecutive term as party president.

Of his new responsibility, Mr Tan said he is excited for what is to come.

"I would say this appointment comes with heavy responsibility, but I think I have no time to really worry about the daunting tasks...

"I think it's ultimately my sense of mission that will prevail, and my sincerity in trying to forge more constructive politics in Singapore."

The lawyer of close to 30 years has been interested in politics since he was young.

"As I got myself involved in different types of volunteer work, I realised that no matter what you do, problems persist.

"Sometimes, they are aggravated simply because many policy decisions tend not to take into very serious consideration the social impact..." Mr Tan said.

He described how he became part of NSP in February 2012: Sometime in early 2012, after the 2011 General Election, he wrote to NSP, hoping to find out more about the party.

"But Sebastian (NSP's president) told me, 'If you want to know more, you must first join the party'," Mr Tan said.

Now as a secretary-general, he hopes to inspire people with what he calls "peolitics" - getting people more engaged in politics instead of shying away.

PEOPLE-FOCUSED

Mr Tan said: "As far as my idea of politics is concerned, I've always wanted to see politics being treated as something about people, not about political parties or power play...

"I think every citizen has a role to play in shaping policy and the future of our country."

Besides his full-time job at Temple Counsel, the father of three is also a docent at local museums.

He also acts on local TV. One of his recent roles is of a doctor in a Channel 8 drama starring Zoe Tay.

When asked if he is worried about juggling his commitments, he said with a laugh: "Once you start thinking of those things, you'll always be stuck at the door. You'll never go out."

On NSP's recent CEC elections, political analyst Associate Professor Eugene Tan said the developments suggest the need for NSP to "rapidly stabilise their house".

TNP reported yesterday that, according to a source, the party was split into two camps with different ideals on how to bring the party forward - Mr Teo's tried-and-tested method or Mrs Chong-Aruldoss' more innovative approach.

Said the law professor at Singapore Management University: "They don't have much time. The party seems divided between long-time and newer members over the direction it should take.

"Electorally, NSP will need to focus on building party unity. They may do well to work towards a quality line-up rather than aiming to field the largest number of candidates among the opposition like they did in General Election 2011."

As they sit on "lucrative" electoral wards like Tampines and Mountbatten, other political parties may muscle in, Prof Tan said.

"So the party divisions will have to be healed or the next General Election might see the party decline in electoral relevance."

fjieying@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 27, 2015.
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