Minister thanks opposition veteran Low Thia Khiang

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing expressed appreciation for Mr Low Thia Khiang's "efforts to work together to build a better Singapore".
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing expressed appreciation for Mr Low Thia Khiang's "efforts to work together to build a better Singapore".ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing yesterday praised veteran opposition MP Low Thia Khiang for the role he played in Parliament, acknowledging him as "a fellow Singaporean and very much part of Team Singapore".

"While we may not always agree with (Mr Low's) perspectives or methods, we nevertheless appreciate his efforts to work together to build a better Singapore," he said.

Speaking during the debate on the President's Address, Mr Chan highlighted the need for Singapore to ensure that it has the strongest leadership team possible.

At this point, in a rare move, he placed on record the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) leaders' appreciation for Mr Low, 61, who led the Workers' Party (WP) for 17 years as its secretary-general until last month when he handed over the reins to Mr Pritam Singh.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Chan said: "Although Mr Low may have different perspectives... from his speeches, we can detect his pride in Singapore and his determination to defend our sovereignty. Thank you, Mr Low."

In past speeches, Mr Low, who is Chinese-educated, had talked about foreign policy, including the rise of China that some fear may compel smaller states to submit to its will and interest.

He went on to speak on how multiracial Singapore must respond as China grows in prosperity and influence.

Mr Chan added that the Government looks forward to working similarly with Mr Singh and the WP to put the interest of Singapore and Singaporeans first.

Accepting the words of appreciation later, Mr Singh said: "(WP) will always bear in mind the national interests in our deliberations and endeavour in the interest of Singaporeans and Singapore."

The WP, under Mr Low's leadership, has become Singapore's most successful opposition party since independence. It made history in the 2011 polls when Mr Low led a team to victory in Aljunied GRC.

The WP has six MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs.

A handful of opposition politicians have been recognised in the past by PAP leaders and one of them is longest-serving opposition MP Chiam See Tong.

Mr Chiam, 83, was described in 1996 by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew as a "voice of sanity".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2018, with the headline 'Minister thanks opposition veteran Low Thia Khiang'. Print Edition | Subscribe