The PAP - Selection process

Candidates assessed for office continually

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking during a PAP press conference at PAP HQ on Sept 1, 2015.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking during a PAP press conference at PAP HQ on Sept 1, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Among the People's Action Party's (PAP) 21 new candidates, there are some potential office holders from obvious backgrounds. But others are from different backgrounds who can offer new perspectives and experiences, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking yesterday at a PAP press conference, he added that MPs' prospects of being office holders are not decided only when they first enter politics.

Asked which of the ruling party's new candidates were of ministerial calibre, Mr Lee said some had "more obviously... appropriate and relevant backgrounds". But he added: "Others may have come from different backgrounds but will be able to make very interesting additions to the team and provide new perspectives and new experiences."

One new face who has already been tipped for office is former defence chief Ng Chee Meng, part of the PAP's six-member slate for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, whose military background fits the ministerial mould.

Yet Mr Lee added that PAP candidates are assessed for office not just upon being elected, but continually.

"As long as they are in Parliament, we look at it and see where they can make their best contribution," he said. "And if you look at my track record, you will see that I have very often promoted from the backbenches."

He highlighted three examples: Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, and Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo.

"So it's like SkillsFuture, you know, it's never a single point," he said, referring to the programme to help students and workers develop specialised skills throughout their lives.

"One day we'll have an upgrading programme for MPs."

Janice Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'Candidates assessed for office continually'. Print Edition | Subscribe