GE2015: WP's rookie candidates share initial fears in joining the opposition party

He Ting Ru at the Workers' Party headquarters on Aug 28, 2015.
He Ting Ru at the Workers' Party headquarters on Aug 28, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Her decision to stand as an opposition candidate had worried her friends and family that she might get "fixed" by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), said Workers' Party (WP) rookie candidate He Ting Ru.

The corporate lawyer, 32, had the same fears initially but decided to run after asking herself three questions.

One, is it healthy for Singapore to have a handful of people from the same party to decide what is best for our country?

Second, do we want a future for our country where our children are not disagreeing with the government in a responsible way because they are afraid of being "fixed"?

Third, do we think our current policies are perfect and nothing more needs to be done for vulnerable Singaporeans?

"The answer from each one of these questions is no. As a young Singaporean, I have my ideas about what should be my nation's path," said Ms He, who is being fielded in Marine Parade GRC and was speaking in her first election speech at the rally held on Thursday evening (Sept 3) in the Jalan Besar GRC's Boon Keng area.

"I do not want a future where people spend so much time about how much CPF minimum sum will increase this year, whether trains will break down on our way to crucial job interviews or wait for hours or days in a hospital corridor for a bed."

"Instead, I want a future where more citizens decide our way for the future. There's no more direct way for effecting change than running for Parliament."

Eight rookie candidates have spoken for the first time at the WP rally on Thursday evening, with at least four of them - including Singapore Cancer Society community manager Kenneth Foo, 38, lawyer Terence Tan, 44, and former associate librarian Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36 - revealing how they overcame initial fears in joining the opposition party.

Ms He also posed three questions to the crowd on why they should consider voting more WP MPs into Parliament.

"Do we want more voices to be heard in Parliament? Do we want our children to be able to speak out responsibly without fear because they disagree with the Government?.

"Do we want to live in a country which empowers the citizens, looks out for the vulnerable, and the children are not weighed down by pressure to succeed at all cost?

"I hope the answer is yes to all of these questions," she asked.

Ms He is billed by some as the 2015 version of opposition rookie sensation Nicole Seah who lit up the 2011 General Election. Ms Seah, then age 24 and of the National Solidarity Party, also contested in Marine Parade GRC.

She won plaudits for her eloquent, confident election speeches and also her self-assured responses to difficult questions from the media and in engaging the netizens.

Ms He gave a clear, well-outlined speech on Thursday, though her maiden effort did not appear to visibly rouse the WP rally crowd.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg