Two tech professionals among NMP hopefuls

Mr Alex Siow was the president of the Singapore Computer Society from 1997 to 2001.
Mr Alex Siow was the president of the Singapore Computer Society from 1997 to 2001.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Jeremy Tan, chief executive officer (CEO) of Korvac Holdings.
Jeremy Tan, chief executive officer (CEO) of Korvac Holdings.PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

Issues they want to raise include IT retraining for top execs and ensuring workers gain from tech changes too

Two technology professionals were among the 15 names that made it yesterday, the closing day for people to hand in forms to vie for the Nominated MP seats in Parliament.

Both Mr Alex Siow of the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) and Mr Jeremy Tan of the Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) did it through proxies.

In all, 41 people applied to be NMPs this year, Parliament said. They are vying for a maximum of nine seats.

Mr Alex Siow, president of the Singapore Computer Society from 1997 to 2001 and who plays an advisory role now as a fellow of the society, hopes to raise the issue of retraining corporate leaders, especially in IT-related areas. "Technology is changing a lot of industries, and leaders need to be trained in these areas too."

Mr Siow, 61, president of the SCS from 1997 to 2001 and who plays an advisory role now as a fellow of the society, said he hopes to raise the issue of retraining corporate leaders, especially in IT-related areas.

"We have been talking a lot about retraining, but the emphasis has mostly been on the middle and lower managers.

"But technology is changing a lot of industries, and leaders need to be trained in these areas too," Mr Siow said.

"Also, the top-layer executives are a bit resistant to go for training in IT-related areas, like the use of big data. But they need to be conversant with the new technology if they are to lead companies."

Mr Siow is director of two centres at the National University of Singapore's School of Computing. They provide training to healthcare workers and aspiring chief information officers.

He was previously a chief information officer at the Housing Board, before working at StarHub from 2003 to 2012. His last position at the telco was head of enterprise risk management.

He is one of two NMP candidates backed by the Academy of Medicine, which coordinates nominations for the professions, one of seven functional groups.

Mr Jeremy Tan, chief executive of Korvac Holdings, which provides cashless payment services, wants to "push for clearer government positions in areas of innovative and disruptive technologies and services, as well as to raise issues that impede our progress towards a smarter nation". For workers, he aims to ensure there is an "inclusive ecosystem'' that enables people to gain and not be disadvantaged by technological changes.

The other groups are: business and industry; labour movement; social service organisations; civic and people sector; tertiary education institutions; and media, arts and sport.

Mr Tan, 41, treasurer of SiTF, hopes to represent the interests of technology businesses in Singapore, from start-ups to the large technology companies.

The chief executive of Korvac Holdings, which provides cashless payment services, said he wants to "push for clearer government positions in areas of innovative and disruptive technologies and services, as well as to raise issues that impede our progress towards a smarter nation".

For workers, he aims to ensure that there is an "inclusive ecosystem'' that enables people to gain and not be disadvantaged by technological changes.

Four people applied without the backing of any functional group, and they handed in their forms personally yesterday.

They are former private tutor Ooi Boon Ewe, 74; security guard M. P. Kathiresan Raj, 59; lawyer Richard Siaw Kin Yeow, who declined to give his age; and Mr David Lee, 50, who runs an events management firm.

Mr Ooi is a familiar face in Singapore general elections, often making a bid to contest but failing to get the necessary supporters.

National Arts Council chairman Chan Heng Chee, who coordinates the submissions for the arts, media and sport functional group, said yesterday that the group has two candidates: One from the arts, and the other, media.

She declined to disclose the names of the two candidates.

This indicates there is no official candidate for the sport sector.

When contacted, former NMP Benedict Tan, who had represented the sport community in the last Parliament, said he did not seek re-nomination as he wanted to give others the opportunity to participate in parliamentary debates.

He added: "The functional group has to select two names out of three sectors. It is a difficult job."

An eight-member committee of MPs chaired by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob will shortlist the candidates for interviews.

The final line-up will be submitted to the President for appointment as NMPs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Two tech professionals among NMP hopefuls'. Print Edition | Subscribe