SINGAPORE - The People’s Association (PA) has appointed two new advisers to Sengkang grassroots organisations (GROs), with effect from Wednesday (April 6).
PA said Mr Koh Juay Meng will serve as adviser to Sengkang Central GROs, while Mr Goh Yeow Tin will advise Sengkang East GROs.
They join Dr Lam Pin Min, who will continue as adviser to Sengkang West GROs.
Mr Koh, 63, was the chairman of the Sengkang Central Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC).
Mr Goh, 71, moves to Sengkang after serving in Teck Ghee GROs for 32 years.
PA said in a statement that the three advisers will guide GROs in explaining government policies and organising community programmes for the residents of Sengkang.
In response to The Straits Times' queries, PA said Mr Koh and Mr Goh took over from Mr Teo Ser Luck and Mr Charles Chong, who had stepped down as advisers.
Mr Teo is a former MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and Mr Chong was MP for Punggol East, which was absorbed into Sengkang GRC ahead of the 2020 General Election. Neither contested GE 2020.
Mr Goh served the residents of Teck Ghee through various GROs, including the CCC and Welfare and Building Fund Committee, said PA.
He said in the PA statement: “I have served in the grassroots movement for more than 30 years, and I am looking forward to bringing my experience to Sengkang East, to serve the residents here.”
Mr Koh is chairman at non-profit group RSVP Singapore and has been a grassroots leader for eight years.
He started as a member of the Punggol 21 Community Club management committee in 2013 and has held leadership positions in Punggol North and Sengkang Central CCCs.
Mr Koh said he is looking forward to continuing his voluntary work in Sengkang Central in a different capacity.
“I feel honoured to be appointed adviser to the Sengkang Central GROs. I am familiar with the grassroots leaders and volunteers here and the good work they do. I am looking forward to continuing our work in the community”.
The position of adviser to GROs is usually held by People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs, or its election candidates in opposition-held wards.
Appointments of advisers who are not elected in general elections and are linked to the PAP have been criticised by opposition parties for providing an unfair advantage to the ruling party, particularly in opposition-held wards.
Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh had in October 2019 raised the issue of having to go through a grassroots adviser from the PAP to raise community improvement projects for consideration in Aljunied GRC.
Sengkang GRC is held by the opposition Workers’ Party (WP), after an upset win in the 2020 General Election saw a fresh-faced WP team best a PAP team that consisted of labour chief Ng Chee Meng; Dr Lam, who was then Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health; then Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home affairs and Health Amrin Amin; and lawyer Raymond Lye.
The appointment of the new advisers comes a week after the ruling party announced new PAP branch chairmen in Sengkang.
The party said on March 27 that Associate Professor Elmie Nekmat, Ms Theodora Lai and Mr Ling Weihong will replace Mr Ng, Mr Amrin and Mr Lye.
Prof Elmie will be the branch chairman of Sengkang Central, while Ms Lai will chair Sengkang North and Mr Ling Sengkang East.
Associate Professor Eugene Tan of Singapore Management University said a plausible reason why the newly unveiled branch chairmen were not appointed advisers was that they are still being tested.
“The thinking could be to have experienced people to be the advisers to GROs for now. In this way, Mr Goh and Mr Koh can provide guidance and experience to the areas under their charge, as well as to the new branch chairs as they seek to establish themselves as politicians and possible election candidates.”