SPP's Ravi Philemon to contest Hong Kah North

SPP's Lina Chiam and Ravi Philemon (both in white-and-red T-shirts) during the party's walkabout in Bukit Batok yesterday.
SPP's Lina Chiam and Ravi Philemon (both in white-and-red T-shirts) during the party's walkabout in Bukit Batok yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

Blogger Ravi Philemon, 47, will contest the single-seat Hong Kah North ward and bid to become the "voice and conscience of Singaporeans".

This was announced yesterday by Singapore People's Party (SPP) chairman Lina Chiam at a walkabout in Bukit Batok, where party chief and opposition veteran Chiam See Tong was also present.

"By fielding Ravi Philemon, we believe the party has fielded a very strong candidate to contest Hong Kah North against the PAP," said Mrs Chiam, referring to the party's promise to offer a credible candidate for the since-seat ward that the party also contested in 2011, when it was carved out of the now-defunct Hong Kah GRC.

Mr Philemon said he was contesting as he owed a debt to Singapore, having come from a disadvantaged family. He left school after his O levels to help his mother, a single parent who worked three jobs to support the family.

"Today, I have been able to climb up the social mobility ladder and be where I am thanks to opportunities ... in Singapore," he said.

"It is important to have checks and balances to make sure there are enough opportunities in the future."

Mr Philemon said he had to quit his job as director of the volunteer welfare organisation Operation Hope Foundation last Friday as his employment contract bars him from contesting the election, which is widely expected to be held as early as next month.

He assured residents that the area's town council would be well run if he was elected, as he could tap on the experience of Mr Chiam, who ran Potong Pasir from 1984 to 2011, including its town council.

Mr Philemon also described the SPP as the "conscience of Singapore" between 1986 and 1991 when Mr Chiam was the only non-PAP elected parliamentarian.

"These are some of things I hope to bring if elected: That I will be able to manage the town council. The full machinery of SPP is behind me. And to Singaporeans, I would like to say that I will be a voice and conscience in Parliament," he added.

He will square off against Senior Minister of State Amy Khor of the PAP, who fended off the SPP's Sin Kek Tong in 2011 by winning 70.61 per cent of the vote share.

Yesterday, Dr Khor made a brief appearance at the coffeeshop where the SPP held its press conference. She heard that Mr Chiam was in the neighbourhood, and she said she wanted to welcome him. The two spoke for about 10 minutes.

Asked about the competition she faces, Dr Khor said it was good to give the voters a choice to decide who and which party can best serve their needs and improve their lives.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'SPP's Ravi Philemon to contest Hong Kah North'. Print Edition | Subscribe