GE 2015

Gurmit Singh, who earlier quit Workers' Party, is surprise WP candidate

Lawyer Gurmit Singh (third from left) appeared at a SingFirst event after he quit the Workers' Party, but then retracted his resignation. He was introduced as a WP candidate yesterday, along with (from left) Mr Kenneth Foo, a manager at a voluntary w
Lawyer Gurmit Singh (third from left) appeared at a SingFirst event after he quit the Workers' Party, but then retracted his resignation. He was introduced as a WP candidate yesterday, along with (from left) Mr Kenneth Foo, a manager at a voluntary welfare organisation; Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, a former librarian; and Mr Dennis Tan, a shipping lawyer.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Sources say lawyer left after being told he would be back-up candidate; he has since retracted his resignation

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) sprang a surprise on Sunday (Aug 30) when it unveiled a candidate who had been spotted wearing the colours of another opposition party in recent weeks.

Mr Gurmit Singh, 55, who works as a legal counsel in a property firm, started volunteering with the WP after the 2011 polls and became a member in 2013.

Sources had told The Straits Times that Mr Singh quit the WP a few weeks ago after being told he would be a back-up candidate for the Sept 11 polls. Mr Singh then appeared at a Singaporeans First (SingFirst) event.

In response to queries, WP chairman Sylvia Lim confirmed Mr Singh was on its list of candidates as a standby. She added he quit the party and joined SingFirst for a day, after which he retracted his resignation.

"WP took into account Gurmit's good relations with the party, the circumstances of his resignation and his professionalism in handling the matter. WP thus accepted his retraction of resignation," it added.

"We believe Gurmit has much to contribute as a candidate and, if elected, as an MP."

Mr Singh on Sunday said he had explored opportunities with other parties as he was "very enthusiastic" about contesting the election and had gone on only one walkabout with SingFirst when he heard news that WP was likely to field him.

Sources say Mr Singh was wooed back after another potential candidate, lawyer Shaneet Rai, 27, quit. Mr Rai was said to have been unhappy about a team of young first-timers taking on a People's Action Party team helmed by Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam in Nee Soon GRC. Last week, Mr Rai removed all photos of him on walkabouts in WP colours from his public Facebook page. It was taken down and can no longer be accessed.

The team is set to include sales consultant Cheryl Denise Loh, 32; Mr Kenneth Foo, 38, a manager at a voluntary welfare organisation; Mr Luke Koh, 41, managing partner of a private investment business; and property agent Ron Tan, 30.

Sources say Mr Singh started walking with the WP team in Nee Soon GRC at about the same time that Mr Rai dropped out. The WP on Sunday confirmed that Mr Rai had quit.

Mr Rai said on Sunday that he handed in his resignation on Aug 23 but had not heard back from the party.

According to electoral rules on minority representation, political parties standing in Nee Soon GRC are required to field at least one candidate from a non-Malay minority group.

Mr Singh was introduced along with former librarian Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36, Mr Foo, and shipping lawyer Dennis Tan, 45.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Member who had quit is surprise WP candidate'. Print Edition | Subscribe