SINGAPORE - Notable opposition figure Nicole Seah has thrown in her lot with the Workers' Party (WP) - with observers saying she is its most prominent newcomer since the last general election.
The former National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate is now walking the ground with the WP in East Coast GRC and was spotted, for example, at a door-to-door food distribution exercise in Bedok earlier this year.
She began volunteering with the party's media team after the 2015 general election, and wrote parts of the WP 60th anniversary book launched last month, The Straits Times learnt.
Observers say the 31-year-old will add star power to the WP slate in East Coast GRC, if fielded, noting that it was the most hotly contested GRC after Aljunied at the last two elections.
The WP lost East Coast GRC to the People's Action Party (PAP) in 2011 and 2015, but its candidates became Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) as they garnered among the highest votes among losing candidates.
In 2015, the WP candidates were IT consultant Gerald Giam, former librarian Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, sociologist Daniel Goh and consultancy firm chief executive Leon Perera. The latter two are now NCMPs.
They faced off against PAP's Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, former senior minister of state Lee Yi Shyan and a former managing director of Microsoft Singapore Jessica Tan.
Ms Seah is an advertising executive who rose to fame in the 2011 election, running a surprisingly strong campaign in Marine Parade GRC, despite being - at 24 - one of the youngest election candidates.
Her NSP team lost with 43.4 per cent of votes against the PAP team led by then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong which garnered 56.6 per cent.
Mr Goh cited Ms Seah as a factor for his team's lower-than-expected vote share, saying in a post-election press conference: "She communicated very well. She spoke quite persuasively to the younger people as well as some older people. So I could sense that quite a few people supported her."
When contacted Thursday (Dec 7), the WP confirmed that Ms Seah is a volunteer, but declined to say more. Ms Seah also declined to comment.
A WP cadre, who asked not to be named, said Ms Seah would be a strong candidate and hopes that more like her will step forward to be fielded. "As a politician, she is natural and has that X-factor. But WP places emphasis on the team over any individual. If she can fit well into the team, she will be an asset."
After the 2011 election, Ms Seah became second assistant secretary-general of NSP, but left the party in 2014, saying her "job is done". She did not contest the 2015 election, although she made comments on Facebook in support of the WP.
Of Ms Seah's latest move, political analyst Lam Peng Er said: "If Nicole Seah were to run on the WP ticket at East Coast GRC, she will add star quality to the WP slate. She wears her heart on her sleeve and can connect very well with crowds at political rallies."
Former WP politician Goh Meng Seng, who now heads the People's Power Party, said: "There is no doubt that she has charisma.
"But given that the WP is struggling to hold on to Aljunied GRC, where it is the incumbent, it is unlikely that she can help them take East Coast," Mr Goh added citing the party's town council woes, including the ongoing $33-million law suit against WP's Aljunied GRC MPs.