Workers' Party opens new HQ in Geylang

Party chief Low Thia Khiang said the new premises in Geylang Road were an affirmation of the Workers' Party's efforts as much of the funds to buy the office came from members of the public and well-wishers.
Party chief Low Thia Khiang said the new premises in Geylang Road were an affirmation of the Workers' Party's efforts as much of the funds to buy the office came from members of the public and well-wishers.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Party also marks 60th anniversary; Low Thia Khiang to be longest-serving opposition MP

Opening his party's new headquarters last night, Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang said it symbolised the durable progress made by the party in a 60-year political journey that, at times, was "difficult" and "winding".

"Despite the hardships, WP has served Singapore, and has gone through thick and thin with Singaporeans," he said.

The new premises, he added, were an affirmation by Singaporeans of WP's efforts - a reference to the fact that much of the funds raised to buy the office came from members of the public and well-wishers. The opening of WP's headquarters coincides with its 60th anniversary.

From humble beginnings in 1957, it has grown into the biggest opposition party, with six elected MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs.

By the end of this year, Mr Low will reach a milestone too. He will be the longest-serving opposition MP in Singapore's history, surpassing Mr Chiam See Tong's record of 26 years and 4 months.

WP's new headquarters - the first premises owned by the party - is in Teambuild Centre at 701, Geylang Road.

The party bought the 110 sq m space this year for about $900,000 and moved in last month after renovations were done. The property has 82 years left on its 99-year lease.

The WP had rented its former Syed Alwi Road headquarters. It was half the size of the new office. The party was there from 2004 to December last year, when its lease ended. Party leaders said the old office was too cramped.

Party sources added that the party had faced problems in renting a place. Some landlords were wary of renting to opposition parties. Others set conditions, such as not allowing the WP name and logo to be displayed.

In 2013, WP held a concert, Bricks In Blue, to raise funds to buy its own premises. It received donations totalling $500,000. The rest came from its elected MPs, who donated $1,000 a month from their allowances, and from supporters.

Also unveiled yesterday was an exhibition of the WP's 60-year history, held at the headquarters. It includes photos from the 14 general elections it has contested.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim said the party has had its ups and downs - "exhilarating" victories in Anson, Hougang and Aljunied, as well as "trying times" and lawsuits, including one that nearly wound it up in 1999.

"It's a new chapter for WP... It's our first home," said assistant secretary-general Pritam Singh.

Added veteran WP member Lim Ee Ping, 80: "I am very satisfied because WP finally has its own nest."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Workers' Party opens new HQ in Geylang'. Print Edition | Subscribe