Opening of Singapore's Parliament: Who are the new MPs making their debut?

Nineteen MPs and two NCMPs will be making their debut in Parliament on Friday, Jan 15, 2016.
Nineteen MPs and two NCMPs will be making their debut in Parliament on Friday, Jan 15, 2016.

SINGAPORE - When Parliament opens on Friday (Jan 15), 19 first-time Members of Parliament (MPs) and two new Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) will be making their debut.

The 19 new MPs are from the People's Action Party (PAP), while the two NCMPs are from the Workers' Party (WP).

While they may be new to Parliament, many have been involved in grassroots work for years, and quite a few come from the ranks of senior public servants.

 

Here are five quick facts about the new faces in the House:

1. Are there more new faces in this Parliament?

The 19 new MPs make up about a fifth of the 89 elected MPs.

The proportion is slightly lower than the last Parliament where 30 of the 87 elected MPs - or about a third - were first-timers.

2. Who is the youngest MP among the newbies?

That would be MP for Jurong GRC Rahayu Mahzam. At 35, the lawyer is the youngest among the new faces.

But MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling, 32, who is starting her second term, retains the title as the youngest MP in Parliament. She became MP in 2011 when she was 27.

3. Who is the oldest newbie?

Mr Chong Kee Hiong, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, is the oldest at 49.

Mr Chong, who is CEO of OUE Hospitality REIT Management, was shadowing former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng for more than two years in the Bishan East division before he was fielded as a candidate in the Sept 11 election in 2015.

4. Are there office holders among the new MPs?

Among the first-term MPs, five were made office holders. They are:

  • Mr Ong Ye Kung, 46, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills). He is also Senior Minister of State for Defence;
  • Mr Ng Chee Meng, 47, Acting Minister for Education (Schools). He is also Senior Minister of State for Transport;
  • Mr Chee Hong Tat, 42, Minister of State for Health, and Communications and Information;
  • Dr Koh Poh Koon, 43, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and National Development;
  • Mr Amrin Amin, 37, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs

All five are also now in the PAP HQ's Executive Committee.

Shortly after the last election in 2011, five first-time candidates - Mr Heng Swee Keat, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Mr Lawrence Wong and Ms Sim Ann - were also made office holders.

5. New MPs but not-so-new faces

Mr Desmond Choo may be a first-time MP, but he has contested in three elections, including the 2015 polls.

 

In 2011, Mr Choo ran but lost to WP's Hougang candidate Yaw Shin Leong. He contested again in the Hougang by-election in 2012 after Yaw left the party, but lost to WP candidate Png Eng Huat.

 

The 37-year-old union leader won on his third attempt in the 2015 election as part of the PAP's Tampines GRC team.

Colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon has also contested in more than one election. In 2013, he ran but lost to WP candidate Lee Li Lian in the Punggol East by-election to replace former MP Michael Palmer. He was elected in 2015 as part of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Ang Mo Kio GRC team.

Mr Ong Ye Kung was in the PAP team that lost in Aljunied GRC in 2011. The former top civil servant was elected in 2015 as part of the Sembawang GRC team.

Here's more about the new MPs:

1. Ong Ye Kung

  • Age: 46
  • Ward: Sembawang GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Ong is one of two first-time MPs to be appointed an acting minister. He is also Minister of State for Defence.

The Acting Minister of Education (Higher Education and Skills) is part of the steering committee for the Future Economy. He is also helming SkillsFuture initiatives following the restructuring of the Workforce Development Agency into two new statutory boards -  tentatively named SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore.

Mr Ong contested in 2011 in Aljunied GRC but the PAP team led by former Foreign Minister George Yeo lost to the WP team anchored by WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang.

His electoral experience and family background made him a prominent candidate in the 2015 election. His father, Mr Ong Lian Teng, was one of 13 Barisan Sosialis MPs elected in the 1963 General Election who walked out of Parliament over National Service.

2. Ng Chee Meng

  • Age: 47
  • Ward: Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Ng has been appointed Acting Education Minister (Schools) and Senior Minister of State for Transport.

Since his appointment, he has been a frequent visitor to Singapore schools. He is also heading a review of taxi and private car hire services like Uber X and GrabCar for the Ministry of Transport.

He has said that meritocracy is a key policy he wants to champion.

Prior to joining politics, he was the Chief of Defence Force. The three-star general was the highest-ranking Singapore Armed Forces officer to join the PAP, after a 29-year career in the military.

He led the preparations for the state funeral of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Two of his brothers are top public servants and former military leaders.

3. Chee Hong Tat

  • Age: 42
  • Ward: Bishan-Toa Payoh
  • Party: People's Action Party

He has been appointed Minister of State for Health and for Communications and Information. He is leading a Ministry of Health taskforce that aims to strengthen the detection of and response to infectious diseases following a Hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital in 2015.

He was Second Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry before he stepped down to enter politics in 2015. Other positions he held previously include Principal Private Secretary to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Chief Executive of the Energy Market Authority.

The father of four has said that he wants to encourage civil servants to "think like entrepreneurs".

4. Koh Poh Koon

  • Age: 43
  • Ward: Ang Mo Kio GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Dr Koh, a colorectal surgeon, has been appointed Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and National Development.

He first contested in the by-election for Punggol East in 2013 following the resignation of former MP Michael Palmer, but lost to WP candidate Lee Li Lian.

Dr Koh joined PM Lee Hsien Loong's team in Ang Mo Kio GRC for the 2015 election.

5. Amrin Amin

  • Age: 37
  • Ward: Sembawang GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Amrin is a corporate lawyer at Joseph Tan Jude Benny LLP and has been active in grassroots work since 2004, primarily for education and social causes.

He is Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs, and deputy chair of the government parliamentary committee for defence and foreign affairs.

Having come from humble beginnings - he grew up in a three-room flat - he has cited social mobility as an issue he would champion.

6. Cheryl Chan

  • Age: 39
  • Ward: Fengshan SMC
  • Party: People's Action Party

She succeeded former Minister Raymond Lim in Fengshan SMC - a new constituency carved out in the 2015 General Election.

Ms Chan, who is head of secondary industries at gas and engineering firm, The Linde Group, is a member of the PAP Women's Wing. She was an active grassroots volunteer in Fengshan ward for 10 years before entering politics.

She is the niece of Madam Chan Choy Siong, the first woman in the Legislative Assembly of Singapore.

7. Desmond Choo

  • Age: 37
  • Ward: Tampines GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Choo is director of youth development and deputy director of industrial relations at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). The former police officer lost twice at the polls to the WP in Hougang SMC, in the 2011 General Election and the 2012 by-election.

He steps into Parliament as an MP for Tampines GRC.

Shortly after his election, he became a father with the birth of his first child.

8. Chong Kee Hiong

  • Age: 49
  • Ward: Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Chong is currently CEO of OUE Hospitality REIT Management. He was formerly head of The Ascott Limited. He has two years of grassroots experience, serving as vice-chairman of the Citizens Consultative Committee for Bishan East.

He is deputy chair of the government parliamentary committee for National Development.

Mr Chong said he has spent time working with people from all levels, nationalities and cultures - and that would be very useful when he interacts with residents.

9. Cheng Li Hui

  • Age: 39
  • Ward: Tampines GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Ms Cheng is deputy chief executive of engineering firm Hai Leck Holdings. Prior to the election, she was a councillor in Northwest CDC for over 10 years. She understudied former minister Mah Bow Tan.

In a pre-election video, she said she "started quite young", having accompanied her father on grassroots activities since she was in secondary school.

10. Darryl David

  • Age: 45
  • Ward: Ang Mo Kio GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

The ex-TV host is now deputy director of Temasek Polytechnic's School of Design.

Most Singaporeans know him from his days as host of The Pyramid Game show and as a sportscaster for local and regional television.

The father of two is of Chinese and Indian parentage, and he speaks Mandarin and some Hokkien.

As an educator, he has said he wants to focus on "skills-based education" such as at polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education. He is also concerned about Singapore's ageing population.

11. Joan Pereira

  • Age: 48
  • Ward: Tanjong Pagar GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

The experienced social worker is now an assistant general manager at Temasek Cares, the charity arm of Temasek Holdings.

She contested in Tanjong Pagar GRC, which saw an electoral contest for the first time since the GRC was formed in 1988.

The mother of two teenage daughters worked for 25 years in the People's Association and was involved with community and social development programmes.

She has been dubbed "Indranee look-alike" by some people because of her resemblance to fellow Tanjong Pagar MP Indranee Rajah.

12. Henry Kwek Hian Chuan

  • Age:39
  • Ward: Nee Soon GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

He is the executive director of local Singapore company Foodtraco Supplies, an investment, trading and management consulting firm. He is an active grassroots volunteer and works with a local non-governmental organisation, Ground-Up Initiative.

He graduated from Stanford University with degrees in economics and management science.

He said that the Government needs to "step in quickly" if the global economy continues to deteriorate, as jobs will be at risk.

13. Louis Ng

  • Age: 37
  • Ward: Nee Soon GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Ng is the founder and chief executive of local Singapore charity, Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres). He started serving the Chong Pang grassroots organisations in Nee Soon GRC from 2008.

He has been trying out different jobs each month, such as healthcare worker and town council cleaner, to suss out the ground. He has also helped in efforts to nab a resident suspected of torturing cats in Yishun.

Animal welfare is a cause he will always champion, but he also wants to encourage volunteerism , as well as promote the positive aspects of parenthood.

14. Melvin Yong

  • Age: 43
  • Ward: Tanjong Pagar GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Yong, who was commander of Clementi Police Division for four years, retired as Assistant Commissioner of Police in August 2015 to enter politics.

He was a grassroots volunteer for over 10 years.

He has since joined NTUC as director of industrial relations fieldwork.

15. Rahayu Mahzam

  • Age: 35
  • Ward: Jurong GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

The lawyer was previously deputy registrar of the Syariah Court. She is currently a partner at law firm Heng, Leong & Srinivasan, specialising in civil litigation and family law.

She is helming an advisory committee in self-help group Mendaki that seeks to mentor and empower girls from different backgrounds.

She has said she wants to focus on families and youth development.

16. Sun Xueling

  • Age: 36
  • Ward: Pasir Ris-Punggol
  • Party: People's Action Party

Ms Sun (also known as Soon Sher Ren) is an investment director at Temasek Holdings. She has been active in grassroots work in Buona Vista since 2001. The PAP considered fielding her for the 2011 General Election but she was working in Hong Kong then and thinking of starting a family. She now has a daughter.

She is deputy chair of the government parliamentary committee for Communications and Information.

She has said she wants to ensure families have adequate childcare and eldercare, and help young mothers sustain fulfilling careers.

17. Saktiandi Supaat

  • Age: 42
  • Ward: Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Saktiandi is executive vice-president and head of the FX Research team in Global Markets, Global Banking of Maybank.

The father of three is a member of the Committee on the Future Economy, which will develop economic strategies for Singapore's future.

He has also mentioned that more can be done for single parents, especially unwed mothers.

18. Tan Wu Meng

  • Age:40
  • Ward: Jurong GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Dr Tan is an oncologist with Parkway Cancer Centre. Before that, he was with the National Cancer Centre. He has been doing grassroots work for 10 years.

He has said that he sees political service as an extension of what he does as a doctor. He would like to further integrate hospital and medical care in the community, for residents to get better access to healthcare near their homes.

19. Yee Chia Hsing

  • Age: 44
  • Ward: Chua Chu Kang GRC
  • Party: People's Action Party

Mr Yee, who has 20 years of experience in the finance industry, is head of catalist at CIMB Bank Singapore. The Bukit Timah resident has been an active hospital volunteer since 2009 and a PAP volunteer since 2011.

He said that he brings a different perspective as he comes from the private sector, and he believes that diversity of opinion is important.

20. Leon Perera

  • Age: 45
  • Non-constituency MP
  • Party: Workers' Party

Mr Perera, who has a double first class honours degree from Oxford University, worked at the Economic Development Board before entering the business research and consulting field.

He was seen as a star candidate for the opposition during the election, and was appointed to the WP's central executive council in October 2015.

21. Dennis Tan Lip Fong

  • Age: 45
  • Non-constituency MP
  • Party: Workers' Party

Mr Tan went head to head with Ms Cheryl Chan in Fengshan SMC, and garnered had 42.5 per cent of the vote - making him one of the best performers among those who lost at the election.

The shipping lawyer started volunteering with the WP in the 2011 General Election in the former Joo Chiat SMC. He is also part of WP's central executive council.