New but familiar face

He was once tipped to be a potential minister.

But Mr Ong Ye Kung, former Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and chief executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, was in the People's Action Party's (PAP) Aljunied team that lost to the Workers' Party in 2011.

Yesterday, he began his comeback to the political map.

The 45-year-old director of group strategy at Keppel Corporation was introduced as a candidate for Sembawang GRC for the coming General Election.

The PAP team, headed by Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, includes newcomer Amrin Amin, a 36-year-old lawyer, Dr Lim Wee Kiak, whose Canberra ward (Nee Soon GRC) is now part of Sembawang GRC, and Mr Vikram Nair.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Hawazi Daipi and MP Ellen Lee will be retiring, while MP Ong Teng Koon will move to the new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.


Asked about the Aljunied loss, Mr Ong simply said in Mandarin: "It was not a failure, it was a setback.

"The big lesson? Never take things for granted. Today's population and how people feel towards politics are different from the past.

"I don't think people want total dominance, therefore ministers can lose their seats.

"So if you're preparing to enter politics, understand that this is the situation. Do it with your heart and soul, with your eyes open.

"Never let a setback become a failure. Do your best, always overcome."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also PAP's Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, was asked yesterday whether Mr Ong was fielded in Sembawang because it was a relatively "safer" GRC.

DPM Teo said: "We always try to make sure to field the candidate where we think they will best fit in for that constituency and municipal."

Associate law professor Eugene Tan said questions might be raised on why a capable candidate is not fielded in a single-member constituency or where there will be a potentially tough fight with the opposition.

But former nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin said: "A politician who's all up for a tough fight must be an unwise politician. The priority is to get in so that you can prove your worth."


This article was first published on Aug 15, 2015.
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