Quality opposition candidates good for voters, say analysts

PHOTO: The New Paper

They have strong academic records, run successful companies or have senior roles at large international firms.

Instead of wearing white, they chose Workers' Party (WP) blue.

Yesterday, National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Daniel Goh Pei Siong, RHB head of wealth management and loan sales Dylan Ng Foo Eng and engineer Redzwan Hafidz Abdul Razak were unveiled as candidates for the WP at its Syed Alwi Road headquarters.

Software engineer Koh Choong Yong was also introduced. He contested Sengkang West SMC in 2011.

The party did not say where the new candidates will be standing.

WP's secretary-general Low Thia Khiang said in Mandarin: "Quite a large percentage of faces will be new.

"...we have, in the past few years, got some new members who are not bad and have good qualities."

The party looks set to announce more candidates over the next few days until Nomination Day on Sept 1.

Several potential WP candidates with good credentials, such as Cambridge-educated lawyer He Ting Ru and Oxford-educated CEO Leon Perera, have emerged at various events.

Political observers told The New Paper that this is a good thing for the opposition party.

NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser said: "For voters who believe in pluralism and diversity in Parliament, having quality opposition candidates provides them credible options. (It) enhances its credibility and image as a serious party and not 'appear-at-election-time' party."

Could it also mean that working professionals and academics are not afraid to join opposition parties now?

Mr Redzwan said: "Some party members do fear repercussions... but I think it is due to older generations seeing what happened (to opposition members) during the 70s and 80s."

Said Dr Tan: "(The 2011 GE) was seen as a breakthrough... The difference now is that we have more better quality candidates who can articulate well and have a good grasp of issues."

WP's reputation as the main opposition party to be reckoned with has also helped draw these young and successful professionals into its fold.

Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan said: "Not every opposition party is able to showcase the same calibre of candidates."

Added political watcher Mano Sabnani: "The WP of today is seen as more credible, unlike the WP of old... It has taken the moderate line, which tends to appeal to professionals and people from all walks of life."


This article was first published on Aug 27, 2015.
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