Singapore GE2020: Profiles of Progress Singapore Party's new candidates

(Clockwise from top left) Mr Lim Cher Hong, Ms Kala Manickam, Mr Leong Mun Wai, Mr Terence Soon, Mr Abdul Rahman Mohamad and Mr Jeffrey Khoo Poh Tiong. PHOTOS: PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY
(Clockwise, from top left) New PSP candidates Mr Michael Chua, Mr Nadarajah Loganathan, Mr Damien Tay, Ms Wendy Low and Mr Kumaran Pillai. PHOTOS: PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) on Friday (June 26) introduced the last six of its 24 candidates for the coming general election with one notable name missing - Mr Lee Hsien Yang, who joined the PSP about three months ago.

With four days until Nomination Day on June 30, party chief Tan Cheng Bock told reporters during a virtual press conference that the line-up could still change.

The party has said it will be contesting 24 seats in nine constituencies in the coming general election.

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Here's a look at the candidates' profiles:


Founder of venture capital firm Timbre Capital


Mr Leong is the Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) assistant secretary-general and will be part of the team led by party chief Tan Cheng Bock contesting in West Coast GRC.

The son of a dried goods hawker, Mr Leong grew up in Chinatown and went to Raffles Institution.

He was awarded the Public Service Commission Overseas Merit scholarship and majored in economics at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, later completing a master's in management under the London Business School's Sloan Fellowship programme.

He was a director at Merill Lynch Hong Kong and a managing director at OCBC Securities before he founded his own investment firm.

Married with three adult children, the youngest of whom is a doctor on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Leong said: "I want to do something more for the country so that everybody gets the same opportunity as me."


Chief marketing officer for Asia-Pacific at a multinational insurance firm


Part of the Progress Singapore Party's five-man West Coast GRC team, Mr Khoo said his childhood ambition was to be a singer.

A National University of Singapore (NUS) graduate and a botanist by training, Mr Khoo held senior positions in the food and agribusiness sector and is honorary treasurer of the NUS Society.

Some of the policy changes he hopes to make, if elected, are: a review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Singapore; a quota for Employment Pass holders; and ensuring there is knowledge transfer to Singaporean workers.

Married with three school-going children, Mr Khoo was already involved in grassroots work before joining the PSP. "What affected me a lot was that at certain Meet-the-People Sessions, I saw people cry in front of me... It really made me think harder about what I need to do."


Author and chartered financial consultant


Mr Lim graduated from the Singapore Institute of Management-University of London as the top business graduate in his cohort.

After a career in banking and insurance, he took a pay cut to work as a programme coordinator and trainer at the Silver Generation Office, where he managed volunteers who helped seniors apply for government schemes. "To be honest, joining an opposition party was never my intention," said Mr Lim.

The father of three young boys, Mr Lim said more support needs to be given to parents with growing children and current schemes were inadequate to improve the total fertility rate.

He proposed more budgetary aid for young families, rent subsidies for couples waiting for their Build-To-Order flats and more family-friendly practices at the workplace.


Adult educator


A single mother of an 11-year-old girl, Ms Manickam worked in the Singapore Armed Forces for seven years as a platoon commander and was in the first batch of women officers integrated into the tri-service, training alongside men.

She then left for the private sector where she has chalked up 30 years of experience in human resource management and learning development, of which 15 years have been spent as an adult educator.

She has a master's degree in lifelong learning.

Education is an issue close to her heart and Ms Manickam called for less administrative work for teachers, smaller class sizes and a more balanced education system.

"We have a lot of fantastic initiatives... But the way they are being executed is something we need to look into."

She is part of PSP's five-member team that will contest in Nee Soon GRC.


Singapore Airlines pilot


The second-youngest candidate in the Progress Singapore Party's slate, Mr Soon is in the team contesting in Tanjong Pagar GRC. He said he was content handing out fliers when he joined the party, but becoming a father of a seven-week-old daughter pushed him to take the plunge into electoral politics.

"Many things started to click and as I started walking the ground - I realised that I am indeed called to be here because of what I believe in."

Before joining Singapore Airlines as a pilot in late 2015, Mr Soon ran an aviation business which he started when he was 23 and was studying business management at RMIT University in Singapore. To develop the venture, he went to the United States on his own to build his own network of business contacts.

"People always say that I'm crazy. I do things normal people won't think of doing; firstly, starting a business at such a young age, then venturing overseas on my own and now, of course, joining politics," he said.


Fire safety engineer


A member of the Progress Singapore Party's central executive committee, Mr Abdul Rahman was one of the 11 Singaporeans who founded the party along with Dr Tan Cheng Bock last year.

He started his career with the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1975 before becoming an engineer, and has seven children - four daughters and three sons - as well as two grandchildren.

In 2006, he was part of the Singapore Democratic Alliance team that contested in Tampines GRC and got 31.49 per cent of the vote.

After a stint working in Dubai, he returned home.

In the upcoming polls, he will be fielded in Chua Chu Kang GRC.

"During my walkabouts way back in 2006, I could see people were displaced. Now, I come back in 2020, and it is the same kind of situation," he said. "The important thing is to narrow the income gap to give these people the opportunity to improve their lives."


Runs a private firm in the environmental sector

Mr Chua is the organising secretary of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), and one of its 12 founding members. He has been involved in party activities in Tanjong Pagar GRC.

"I believe that I have no right to urge others to step forward, if I myself am not willing to take the plunge. I must have skin in the game. I must be at the forefront to share how we can do better."

Mr Chua was a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Merit Scholarship recipient in 1985. He left active service in 2002 as a major and moved to the private sector, but continued doing national service as a deputy brigade commander until 2016.

"These experiences... shaped my thinking on how we can tackle the challenges the country faces, particularly the systemic problems that exist as a result of the structural deficiencies from an ever more rigid bureaucracy."


Co-founder of a skills-training firm

The former military officer is expected to be on the party's A-team in West Coast GRC.

Mr Loganathan served in the SAF for 25 years, retiring in February 2009 as a lieutenant-colonel. He went on to start a skills-training firm.

He said that he will focus on education policies and push for Singaporeans to be placed first in all job opportunities.

Mr Loganathan has been volunteering with the Hindu Endowment Board since 2016, leading a team of volunteers to manage the crowds during Thaipusam.

He was also actively involved in the Indian Activities and Educational Committee in Limbang Community Club from 2015, until he joined the PSP in January last year.

"I've settled my family. My three girls are all graduating or going to graduate very soon. And so I will look at how to then help the country," said Mr Loganathan.


Runs a consultancy to develop start-ups

The former publisher of the website The Independent Singapore confirmed that he will be running in the new single-seat ward of Kebun Baru.

"I guess the cat is out of the bag for Kebun Baru. I've been walking the ground there. I've been doing my walkabouts at the Mayflower Market and in Sembawang Hills."

Mr Kumaran left his post at the website in February this year after he entered politics.

He has been active in the start-up scene, running an incubator backed by Spring Singapore to launch about 28 local start-ups.

Mr Kumaran said an excessive focus on the economy has seen many in society left behind by government policies.

He said that after commenting and writing about politics for close to seven years, he was convinced by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, the party's secretary-general, that it is not enough and he needs to take the fight into Parliament.



Ms Low was a partner at Rajah & Tann from 2008 to 2017, and currently leads the intellectual property advisory and dispute practice of Eldan Law LLP.

She has been spotted in party walkabouts in Tanjong Pagar GRC.

She has advocated for women's issues with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong and Singapore, including in the Association of Women for Action and Research.

Ms Low has also been volunteering with Justice Without Borders, a cross-border NGO providing pro bono legal help to domestic workers in Singapore who have been abused or unfairly treated at work.

She said she has a passion for looking at issues of deep inequality, and wants to change the common mindset here that NGOs are "just trying to be difficult". Instead, Ms Low said they can drive long-term positive changes for people impacted by certain issues, and help the Government make better policies too.

She also hopes to preserve local art, culture and heritage, and leverage on technology to let women and freelancers gain meaningful home-based employment.


Customer service manager

Mr Tay has three decades of commercial operations experience in multinational corporations in the electronics, retail and medical industries. He has been spotted in party walkabouts in Nee Soon GRC.

Currently a customer service manager, Mr Tay has three broad areas which he wishes to effect change in.

First, he wants better job opportunities for Singaporeans, in the light of the disproportionate number of foreigners in Singapore's workforce due to globalisation.

He also wants to bridge the inequality gap for a more equitable and proportionate distribution of wealth.

Mr Tay also wants to focus on addressing the impact of climate change here.

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