GE2020: SDA chairman Desmond Lim to step down from position, says he is leading GE team for the last time

Singapore Democratic Alliance President Desmond Lim Bak Chuan delivers a speech on June 23, 2020.
Singapore Democratic Alliance President Desmond Lim Bak Chuan delivers a speech on June 23, 2020.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chairman Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, 52, will be stepping down from his position after the general election.

Mr Lim told The Straits Times that this will be last election campaign that he leads, adding that he believes the party's younger generation is ready to take over.

"After this elections, I will handover to my successor," he said during a walkabout in Pasir Ris-Punggol on Saturday (June 27) where the party also introduced its candidates.

The Straits Times understands that the SDA's chief media officer Harminder Pal Singh will step up to become party chairman.

Mr Lim said: "I have done my part... It's time for a more talented, more capable person to take over, and I hope that the next generation of SDA leaders will bring the party to new heights."

Mr Lim will remain as a party member after he steps down, and continue to share his skills and experience with younger party members.

And while he will no longer take a leading role, Mr Lim did not rule out the possibility of standing in another election.

Mr Lim made his electoral debut in the 2001 general election and has contested every election since and is known in opposition circles as an affable character always willing to try new ways of campaigning.

During the 2013 Punggol East by-election, Mr Lim put up a series of videos as part of what he had called an online rally. The videos were mocked because of his bad diction but Mr Lim said he should not be judged on his command of the language, but more on how he can help others.

He was the former president of Singapore Justice Party, which became part of the SDA in 2001, along with the Singapore People's Party, National Solidarity Party and the Singapore Malay National Organisation (PKMS).

He was considered Mr Chiam See Tong's protege at SDA, which Mr Chiam set up, before a falling out in 2011 led the older politician to pull the Singapore People's Party out of the alliance with him.

 
 
 

Mr Lim became SDA secretary-general in 2009 before taking over as party president in 2011.Mr Lim said during the walkabout that he had honoured Mr Chiam's legacy in his work at SDA.

Mr Harminder said that SDA has been reaching out to PV to discuss if a three-way fight in Pasir Ris-Punggol can be avoided in the upcoming election.

PV chief Lim Tean said on Thursday (June 25) that his party will be contesting Pasir Ris-Punggol as well as Jalan Besar, Pioneer, Mountbatten and Punggol West.

Mr Singh said that SDA will not cede ground, given that the party has contested in Pasir Ris-Punggol in the last two elections with a team that he led.

"We had very good support from residents... and to just leave them and desert them would be very unfair," he added.

People's Action Party won Pasir Ris-Punggol in GE2015 with 72.89 per cent of the vote, up from 64.79 per cent in GE2011.

The SDA slate for the upcoming election will include two new faces as well as Mr Lim, Mr Harminder and PKMS president Abu Mohamed, who ran in GE2015.

A party statement on Saturday (June 27) said that its two new candidates Mr Kelvin Ong Soon Huat and Mr Kuswadi Atnawi had been part of its walkabouts and charity work.

KELVIN ONG SOON HUAT, 34

Operations Manager

Mr Ong hopes to address the rising costs of living if he is voted into Parliament.

More alternative voices are needed in Parliament, said Mr Ong, who joined SDA in 2015 to help out with the party's contest in the election then.

He told ST: "We need to have a voice in Parliament to raise concerns about housing, employment and retirement and Central Provident Fund issues."

More checks and balances on policies and bills are also needed, he said.

Mr Ong, who is an operations manager contracted by a town council, said: "We will be full-time (MPs) if we are voted into Parliament."

The ITE graduate is married with no children.

KUSWADI ATNAWI, 57

Electrical engineer

Employment issues are at the top of Mr Kuswadi Atnawi's list of issues he hopes to address.

Mr Kuswadi said that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused Singaporeans to lose job security, and he hopes to find ways to help build up their confidence in securing good jobs.

More job opportunities will also need to be provided, Mr Kuswadi added.

Other issues he hopes to tackle through Parliament include housing, transport and the rising cost of living.

Mr Kuswadi has been distributing lunches and masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic to Pasir Ris-Punggol residents as part of his outreach in SDA.

The divorcee with six children has a diploma in electrical engineering from Singapore Polytechnic.

Mr Kuswadi is also information head at PKMS, one of SDA's component parties. PKMS president Abu Mohamed is also on the SDA team contesting in Pasir Ris-Punggol.