PAP Paya Lebar branch set to get new chairman

Mr Tan, 36, is a criminal defence lawyer who is currently the vice-chairman of the Chong Pang PAP branch. He has volunteered at the ward since 2013.
Mr Tan, 36, is a criminal defence lawyer who is currently the vice-chairman of the Chong Pang PAP branch. He has volunteered at the ward since 2013.

Lawyer Josephus Tan, 36, is being considered to replace Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai as head of the People's Action Party (PAP) branch in Paya Lebar.

Last night, Mr Tan was at the branch, where Mr Murali introduced him to at least 60 branch activists at a National Day dinner.

The branch is in need of a new chairman after Mr Murali, its current chairman, was elected MP for Bukit Batok in the May 7 by-election.

MPs typically chair the PAP branches in their constituencies. During last year's general election, five of the seven PAP branch chairmen in opposition- held wards were fielded as the party's candidates.

The Workers' Party held on to Aljunied GRC, where Paya Lebar is a ward, by a narrow margin, with 50.95 per cent of the votes cast.

Mr Tan, a criminal defence lawyer at Fortis Law, has, since 2013, volunteered at Chong Pang ward in Nee Soon GRC, where he is currently the branch's vice-chairman.

His temporary redeployment to Chua Chu Kang GRC in the months leading up to the 2015 general election had sparked rumours that he would be fielded as a candidate there at the polls. He was not.

During the Bukit Batok by-election, he was seen on the ground helping Mr Murali to canvass votes, as well as being the emcee at his rallies.

Yesterday, Mr Murali declined to confirm if Mr Tan would replace him, saying only that he was confident that activists would "put community service above politics".

Mr Tan told The Straits Times it would be presumptuous of him to assume he would be made the chairman of Paya Lebar branch. But he added: "Wherever I am asked to go, I'll be there."

However, several activists were seen congratulating Mr Tan yesterday, with some even starting a discussion on how to solve certain municipal issues.

During a closed-door meeting with party activists, one asked what Mr Tan's plans for the ward were. Mr Tan said his first priority is to get to know the activists and residents better.

Activists said after the meeting that Mr Tan's move to the ward was on "probation", to see if he and activists can work together.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2016, with the headline 'PAP Paya Lebar branch set to get new chairman'. Print Edition | Subscribe