Workers' Party's leadership succession plans in place: Low Thia Khiang

Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The Workers' Party's leadership succession plans are on track with more younger members joining its top decision-making body after yesterday's election, said party chief Low Thia Khiang.

Among them are two who are new to the central executive - Mr Tan Kong Soon, 39, who is Mr Low's legislative assistant; and Mr Firuz Khan, 49, who contested Marine Parade GRC at last year's polls.

Voluntary welfare organisation manager Kenneth Foo, 39, who led the Nee Soon GRC team and was co-opted last year, was re-elected.

In all, 21 members vied for the other 12 Central Executive Council (CEC) slots at yesterday's election. All the party's MPs and Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) succeeded in their bid.

Speaking after the four-hour election, Mr Low, 59, said he was the oldest CEC member: "There is a younger team in place at the CEC - the leadership core - and that's important. In the process, you will know who will (eventually) take over from me or the chairman and what will happen."

Mr Low added that the team has experience, as some have been in the CEC for two to three terms. At last year's general election, he singled out the WP candidates in East Coast GRC and Fengshan constituency for praise, describing them as being at the core of the party's next generation of leaders.

All of them - NCMPs Daniel Goh, 42; Leon Perera, 45; and shipping lawyer Dennis Tan, 45; and former NCMP Gerald Giam, 38 - were voted in. The exception was Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36, who was co-opted last year. The Straits Times understands he had the lowest number of votes among contenders yesterday.

Mr Low also said 28 new cadres - who include include grassroots activists and last year's candidates Cheryl Loh, Ron Tan, Dylan Ng and Mr Firuz - were given the status last month in recognition of their contributions at the general election. Their addition brought the total number of cadres to 130.

"During the election process, you assess members, you see who are the ones with potential to be elevated to cadre membership... including those new candidates who performed well. They deserve to be recognised," he said.

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said the WP's renewal plan was in place, given that the majority of the CEC members were below 50: "What is worth watching is the positions (they) will hold. With no clear successor to Low and Sylvia Lim, we can expect keen competition in the years ahead. All this can add to the dynamism of the party."

Political observer Derek da Cunha cited Dr Goh and Mr Perera as the ones to watch but said their rise "to one of the top two party positions might have to wait until they become fully elected MPs".

Rachel Au-Yong

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline Workers' Party's leadership succession plans in place: Low Thia Khiang. Subscribe