PSP's Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa step down from party positions to focus on NCMP duties

Ms Hazel Poa and Mr Leong Mun Wai will step down from their posts as vice-chairman and assistant secretary-general respectively. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Mr Leong Mun Wai and Ms Hazel Poa - the two chosen by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) to take up Non-Constituency MP seats - have stepped down from leadership positions in the party to focus on their parliamentary duties.

Mr Leong, 60, was the assistant secretary-general of the party, while Ms Poa, 49, was the vice-chairman. Both were in the five-man West Coast GRC slate led by party chief Tan Cheng Bock that lost to the PAP team at the election.

The move was announced to PSP members on Sunday (July 19), in a message from organising secretary Michael Chua.

In his message, seen by The Straits Times, Mr Chua told members that the central executive committee (CEC) decided during a meeting last Friday for Mr Leong and Ms Poa to be "relieved of internal party responsibilities so that they can focus on their parliamentary duties as NCMPs".

"As such, they will step down from their posts as Asst Sec-Gen and Vice-Chairman respectively with immediate effect. A Parliamentary Secretariat will be set up to assist the NCMPs in their duties," he said.

"Francis Yuen will take over as Asst Sec-Gen with immediate effect while the post of Vice-Chairman will remain vacant for now," said Mr Chua in his message. Mr Yuen, 70, a CEC member, represented the PSP at the televised debate during the campaign.

He said that the new assistant secretary-general will be planning a restructuring of the party, to position it for the future and begin the process of inducting younger members into roles of responsibility.

"The restructuring will include the setting up of a Women's Wing and Youth Wing," said Mr Chua, adding that a consultative meeting will be held to discuss the proposed new structure with interested members, before implementation.

An official announcement is set to be made by the party after the Registry of Societies approves the change, ST understands. This will take about two weeks.

The reshuffle, which effectively removes the party's only two parliamentarians from the top jobs in the party, is unconventional. Other opposition parties have often given their NCMPs larger roles in the party. The Workers' Party's three NCMPs after the 2015 election - Mr Dennis Tan, Mr Leon Perera and Dr Daniel Goh - all held party leadership positions. And all three were given added responsibilities in a leadership reshuffle in 2018.

ST understands that Dr Tan was the one who proposed separating party and parliamentary responsibilities.

When contacted, Mr Yuen told ST that the two NCMPs would remain party leaders because they remain in the CEC.

"They are still CEC members, they just don't have a role that boxes them in day-to-day. We want to get it right for our first two NCMPs, so they need to spend all their time there, and step down from internal assignments. We don't want them distracted with things like interviewing new members and setting up ground operations."

Mr Yuen added that now is a good time for the PSP to consolidate and restructure, based on what it had learnt from the recently concluded election.

"We are not fighting another election any time soon. So this is a time for building and consolidating," he said.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.