Pritam Singh named as Workers' Party assistant secretary-general

Mr Pritam Singh has been named assistant secretary-general of the Workers' Party.
Mr Pritam Singh has been named assistant secretary-general of the Workers' Party.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
(From front) Mr Low, Ms Lim, Mr Chen, Mr Faisal and Mr Singh coming out from the Workers' Party HQ after the office-bearers were determined last night. It was the first meeting of the party's top decision-making Central Executive Council since it was
(From front) Mr Low, Ms Lim, Mr Chen, Mr Faisal and Mr Singh coming out from the Workers' Party HQ after the office-bearers were determined last night. It was the first meeting of the party's top decision-making Central Executive Council since it was elected more than a week ago.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Appointment marks him as front runner to take over party reins; Chen Show Mao retains post as treasurer

Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh has been named assistant secretary- general of the Workers' Party (WP), a post that had been vacant since 2006 and which now marks him as a front runner for taking over the reins of the party.

Fellow Aljunied GRC MP Chen Show Mao, who had mounted an unprecedented challenge against secretary-general Low Thia Khiang to helm the WP, has retained his post as treasurer.

Mr Singh, 40, who was the party's organising secretary, has now held both posts that Mr Low filled before rising to be party chief in 2001.

These office-bearers were determined last night at the first meeting of the party's top decision-making Central Executive Council (CEC) since it was elected more than a week ago.

Aljunied GRC MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, 40, takes over as vice-chairman, a post long held by former CEC member Mohammed Rahizan Yaacob, 60, who was not re-elected at the party's biennial election on May 29.

Hougang MP Png Eng Huat, 54, who was a CEC member, takes over from Mr Singh as the organising secretary.

Non-Constituency MPs Dennis Tan and Leon Perera, both 45, were given new roles as deputy treasurer and deputy chair of the media team, respectively, while NCMP Daniel Goh, 42, retains his position as media team chair.

Former NCMP Gerald Giam, 38, takes over from Dr Goh as the party's youth-wing president.

CEC newcomer Tan Kong Soon, 39, who is Mr Low's legislative assistant, and Mr Kenneth Foo, 39, who led the Nee Soon GRC team in the 2015 General Election and was co-opted into the council last year, were named as deputy organising secretaries.

Mr Firuz Khan, 49, who contested in Marine Parade GRC at last year's polls and is also new to the CEC, is the deputy webmaster.

Rounding up the CEC is former Punggol East MP Lee Li Lian, 38, who is a council member.

Party insiders said Mr Singh has been given added responsibilities since last year's general election, such as being made chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.

His Eunos ward in Aljunied GRC, which the WP retained by a narrow margin in the general election, was the best performer in terms of vote share among the five Aljunied wards, said party sources after the polls on Sept 11 last year.

As for Mr Chen, 54, party insiders said he was expected to retain a significant position in the CEC, as anything less would give rise to further talk of a split between him and Mr Low. It would also fuel speculation that Mr Chen was being punished for contesting the secretary-general position, which Mr Low retained with 61 votes to Mr Chen's 45.

The two who nominated Mr Chen for the post - former deputy treasurer L. Somasundaram, 53, and council member John Yam, 54 - lost their bids for re-election to the CEC.

Mr Low, 59, has been pushing for fresh and younger leaders in recent years and it was a key factor in his choice of candidates for last year's general election.

His move, however, displeased a faction in the party who felt that their opinions on important party matters such as electoral candidate choice were shrugged off.

In recent years, both Mr Low and party chairman Sylvia Lim, 51, have spoken openly about stepping down from their positions.

The CEC line-up confirms that Mr Low remains focused on leadership succession by filling key party posts with younger members of his team.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'Pritam Singh named as WP assistant sec-gen'. Print Edition | Subscribe