SINGAPORE - Two potential People's Action Party (PAP) candidates for the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC team in the next General Election were spotted yesterday.
They are 48-year-old Chong Kee Hiong, chief executive of Singapore Exchange-listed OUE Hospitality Trust, and 41-year-old Saktiandi Supaat, a former Monetary Authority of Singapore economist now heading the foreign exchange research team at Maybank.
The duo were among Bishan-Toa Payoh grassroots leaders who accompanied Dr Ng Eng Hen when the Defence Minister opened a newly renovated Residents' Committee Centre at Toa Payoh East.
Dr Ng, the ward's anchor minister, described the pair as among "many" potential candidates who are already active on the ground across Singapore, well ahead of the next GE which must be held before January 2017.
The move was in response to Singaporeans' feedback after the 2011 GE, said the PAP organising secretary. "Many Singaporeans said that they prefer candidates who spent some time on the ground before elections come."
It will also allow potential candidates time to get to know residents, and residents can decide whether the new faces can serve them better, said Dr Ng.
Both Mr Chong and Mr Saktiandi are newly minted grassroots leaders at the Toa Payoh East and Bishan East Citizens' Consultative Committees, but they also do other volunteer work.
Mr Saktiandi was president of the youth wing of self-help group Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) for three years, from 2011 to January.
The father of three young children said he is passionate about, among other issues, the low-income group, broken families and households whose main breadwinners are in prison.
Mr Chong is a familiar face in corporate circles. The accountancy graduate was the chief financial officer of international hotel chain Raffles Holdings and senior executive in the Ascott group, including its chief executive from 2012 to 2013, before joining OUE Hospitality Trust last year.
The father of four boys aged between eight and 16 said that volunteer work takes up at least two nights a week, but he has the full support of his wife, who is a housewife.
Mr Chong is also active in the labour movement, serving as president of the union-linked Orchid Country Club and president of the NTUC Foodfare cooperative.
Both new faces are also helping out at the PAP's weekly meet-the-people session at Bishan-Toa Payoh on Tuesdays.
While both were not shy about speaking to reporters, they gave similar answers on their prospects of being picked as PAP candidates, saying that "it is up to the party to decide".
Mr Chong added with a smile: "It is too early to ask, right? My focus now is to get to know residents and the ground."
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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