Singapore GE2020: Retiree concerned about climate issues plans to run as an independent in Pioneer SMC

Mr Victor Ronnie Lai said he decided to run in Pioneer SMC because the name of the constituency represents hope and new beginnings.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A 65-year-old retired financial accountant who is passionate about environmental issues intends to run as an independent candidate in Pioneer SMC, raising the prospect of a four-cornered fight there.

Mr Victor Ronnie Lai told The Straits Times he has obtained a political donation certificate, and will put his name in the ballot on Nomination Day on Tuesday (June 30).

Mr Lai said he decided to run in Pioneer SMC because the name of the constituency represents hope and new beginnings.

He said he is running as an independent as he feels that a party would have people with different interests and purposes.

"I believe that any politician should be accountable for his or her own actions, which is why I decided to join as an independent."

Friends call him "Mr Sunflower", he said, as he often carries the flower around with him - to him, the flower represents hope for the planet, and the importance of loving nature.

Mr Lai told ST in an exclusive interview on Sunday that climate change is an issue that he would champion if elected into Parliament.

For example, he would call for more funds to be funnelled into research that can help Singapore and the global community cut emissions. This includes studies into technologies that can capture carbon emissions and convert that into useful substances.

"Some people may think that climate change is the responsibility of the future generation," he said.

"But I want to try to convince them that the reason we are able to have such a peaceful and enjoyable and prosperous life today is because the Pioneer Generation had worked hard for us."

Pioneer SMC is now held by PAP MP Cedric Foo, who is expected to step down before the election.

With the inclusion of Mr Lai, the single seat could see a four-way contest between him, the ruling People's Action Party and opposition parties the Progress Singapore Party and Peoples Voice.

Besides environmental issues, Mr Lai plans to focus on social and education issues.

On helping the needy, he said he is studying the feasibility of a scheme that would allow residents of the constituency to contribute to a fund, which is then disbursed to the needy.

"This scheme will supplement other national assistance schemes," he said, adding that his political approach is one of unity, not division.

He also believes that the education system should be tweaked so that students can spend less time on homework and more time with their families.

Mr Lai said he is married with children, but declined to give more details, saying that he does not want his decision to contest the election to affect his loved ones.

He is now seeking a proposer, a seconder and at least four other assentors to support his candidature on Nomination Day. Those who are interested can e-mail him here.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.