Singapore GE2020: PAP introduces most senior crop of election candidates so far, including former IMDA chief

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) on Thursday morning (June 25) rolled out a third batch of new candidates to contest the election on July 10.

The line-up this time included former high-ranking civil and public servants, namely former Community Chest managing director Ng Ling Ling and former Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) chief executive Tan Kiat How.

The youngest was lawyer Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim, 39, and the oldest was former Parkway Holdings group chief executive, Dr Tan See Leng, 55.

In a virtual press conference streamed from the PAP headquarters in New Upper Changi Road, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, said these four candidates had modest upbringings. 

“But Singapore’s conditions of education and providing opportunities enabled them to be at their best to be able to achieve what they set out to do,” added Mr Heng, who is the PAP’s first assistant secretary-general.

“Creating these conditions remains a very critical factor I think we must continue if we want Singapore to continue to progress.”


DPM Heng Swee Keat (centre) with new PAP candidates (from left) Mr Tan Kiat How, Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim, Ms Ng Ling Ling and Dr Tan See Leng at the party's New Upper Changi Road headquarters on June 25, 2020. PHOTO: PAP

This group is the most senior crop of candidates introduced so far, with Dr Tan succeeding Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as chairman of the PAP Marine Parade branch.
 

DR TAN SEE LENG, 55, former Parkway Holdings group chief executive

Dr Tan, who has spent more than 30 years in the medical sector, is the oldest PAP candidate introduced so far. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post on Thursday that he was glad that Mr Goh had found in Dr Tan a successor as branch chairman.

Dr Tan said he had spent two years under Mr Goh’s tutelage and worked with him on a caregiver support network for the elderly that will be launched after the election, but declined to comment on where he will be fielded.

The father of three grew up in a Toa Payoh rental flat and is a family physician by training. 

He said the deaths of his parents from cancer in the 2000s had  strengthened his resolve to get a master’s in family medicine, followed by a Master of Business Administration.

Currently a corporate adviser to Temasek Holdings and adviser to DBS Bank, he is also an independent director of Surbana Jurong and was the former group chief executive officer and managing director of healthcare group IHH Healthcare Berhad.

TAN KIAT HOW, 43, former IMDA chief executive

Mr Tan, a public servant for nearly 20 years, was part of the team that set up the Pioneer Generation Office– now known as the Silver Generation Office – and was responsible for mobilising 3,000 volunteers to do outreach to nearly half a million seniors.

 
 
 
 

He took up the top post at IMDA in 2017. Under his leadership, the organisation took steps to build up Singapore’s connectivity infrastructure, such as the rollout of the country’s fourth telco.

Previously, he was deputy secretary for cyber and technology at the Ministry of Communications and Information, where he worked on Singapore’s national cyber security strategy.

Digitalisation is an issue close to his heart, he said. 

“Helping workers, businesses to use technology to create more opportunities and for a better life is making sure that no one is left behind in a digital future.”

Digitalisation, he said, is an issue close to his heart. "Helping workers, businesses to use technology to create more opportunities and for a better life is making sure that no one is left behind in a digital future."

NG LING LING, 48, former managing director of Community Chest

Ms Ng, who spent six years in banking before moving to social and public services, said she has been working on innovating new care models, such as using simple technology to help people with high blood pressure understand the disease and guard against strokes.

 
 
 

“I see the importance of long-term holistic care, as our population ages rapidly, to consider both the social and health aspects to the well-being of our elderly,” said Ms Ng, who is married with one child.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, she said she helped bring in tele-health systems for community care facilities like the Singapore Expo. 

“We were working Monday to Sunday, there were no boundaries of work days to tackle the problem because it was 24/7,” she said, adding that she mobilised volunteers to help with Bengali and Tamil translations for infected migrant workers. 

“It was really all hands on deck...Covid-19 is still with us, and I’ll continue to be part of the fight against the virus.”

ZHULKARNAIN ABDUL RAHIM, 39, lawyer

Mr Zhulkarnain, a partner at law firm Dentons Rodyk and Davidson, spoke of the need to build on community modes of distribution, such as neighbour networks to support the needy, and to “entrench this idea of humanness” in policy-making.

Over the last decade, the father of three has conducted free legal clinics and done pro bono work as an assigned solicitor with the Legal Aid Bureau. He was previously the chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals.

He was the fifth of six children. His mother was a housewife and his father did odd blue-collar jobs when they were growing up, eventually joining a construction company and working his way up to the rank of supervisor. 

“From him, I remember the importance of lifelong learning,” said Mr Zhulkarnain, who would go through his father’s  presentation slides with him as his father did not know how to use PowerPoint.

“The Covid-19 circuit breaker period has shown up various digital inequalities amongst our people, such as those who cannot afford digital devices to do home-based learning,” he said.

“But what I feel is that beyond digital connectivity, it is human connectivity that we would have to look at in terms of policymaking and process.”