PAP slate for GE2020 most diverse yet, will represent wide range of Singaporeans' views in Parliament: PM Lee

(From left) Top row: Ms Gan Siow Huang, Mr Edward Chia Bing Hui, Mr Mohamed Sharael Mohd Taha.
Middle row: Ms Hany Soh Hui Bin, Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, Ms Carrie Tan.
Bottom row: Ms Mariam Jaafar, Mr Don Wee Boon Hong, Ms Yeo Wan Ling.

SINGAPORE - The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has put forward its most diverse slate of candidates yet for a general election, while also stepping up the pace of party renewal.

And Singaporeans can trust them not only to represent their interests in Parliament, but also to work with citizens to find good solutions to Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday (June 27).

In a live broadcast to deliver the PAP election manifesto, PM Lee said the ruling party is fielding 27 new candidates this time, more than a quarter of its total slate and more than in any previous election.

There are also 10 women being brought onboard this time, double the number in the last election in 2015, he added.

While they were introduced to the public in the last few days, most of them are already familiar to residents, having worked on the ground for years as grassroots leaders and party activists in some cases, said PM Lee, who is the PAP secretary-general.

The new faces, PM Lee said, are a "good mix: entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, lawyers, social workers, public servants and SAF officers", including the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) first female general, Ms Gan Siow Huang.

Each of them are proven in their respective fields and professions, he added.

Among those PM Lee highlighted were Mr Edward Chia Bing Hui, 36, the co-founder and managing director of Timbre Group, a restaurant business that grew to become an entertainment and food and beverage enterprise popular with younger Singaporeans.

He also touched on Mr Mohamed Sharael Mohd Taha, 39, who is vice-president for strategy and project management at Singapore Aero Engine Services.

Mr Sharael returned to Singapore to lead a major project, after spending many years working in Britain and Europe, PM Lee said.

"But beyond ability and performance, the new candidates, just like the older ones, also have a strong commitment to serving people," added PM Lee, noting that several of them have founded social enterprises and non-profit organisations.

These include Ms Carrie Tan, 38, founding executive director of charity Daughters of Tomorrow, and Ms Yeo Wan Ling, 44, chief executive of social enterprise Caregiver Asia.

Several have also taken harder, less direct roads to success, said PM Lee.

These include two who grew up in rental flats - Mr Don Wee Boon Hong and Ms Mariam Jaafar, both 43 - and another two who went to the Normal (Academic) stream in school and went to polytechnic - Ms Hany Soh Hui Bin, 33, and Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, 42.

PM Lee said: "The PAP has made it a fundamental goal to open up many paths to success in Singapore: regardless of your family background, if you work hard, you can progress and make a good life for yourselves.

"Our candidates know this is true - they have made it happen in their own lives, they have lived the Singapore story."

The new PAP candidates will soon face the cut and thrust of electoral politics, and it will be a big step for them, "probably a little out of their comfort zone", he said. "They will get used to it, and some may even relish it."

PM Lee said he was proud that, collectively, the new candidates represent a wide range of life experiences and backgrounds, and that is what makes the PAP "the mainstream party of Singapore - a broad tent that occupies the middle ground, and represents the vast majority of Singaporeans".

He said: "Our new candidates come from all walks of life, and they are representative of the complexion of our society.

"If elected, they will become your representatives in Parliament because they are like you, they understand you and your concerns, and they care for you," he added. "You can trust them to speak up on your behalf, and to work closely with you to find good solutions for you and for Singapore."

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