PAP's full slate to have fair share of women

The PAP may be fielding an "all boys band" in Sembawang GRC, but National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the full slate of candidates for the party will have its fair share of women.

While noting that the all-male group was not ideal, he stressed that the party "goes all out" to persuade capable women to join politics.

"If you look at the picture today in Parliament, of all the 80 PAP MPs, 18 are ladies. And later on, when the full slate is announced, I am quite sure you will see that the percentage continues to improve," he said at a press conference yesterday where he introduced the GRC's line-up .

His team was left with only men after the retirement of its only female representative, two-term MP Ellen Lee, 58.

Apart from Mr Khaw, 62, the anchor minister for the constituency, the team comprises corporate lawyer Amrin Amin, 36; Keppel Corporation director of group strategy Ong Ye Kung, 45; and MPs Lim Wee Kiak, 46; and Vikram Nair, 37.

Yesterday, Mr Khaw thanked Ms Lee for her dedication to helping residents, especially vulnerable families, over the past 10 years.

"Ellen puts her heart and soul in whatever she does... Residents took to her very readily because she really personifies dedication and compassion," he said.

For instance, Ms Lee worked hard to deal with residents' transport woes, chairing a taskforce that worked with the Land Transport Authority to introduce new bus routes and improve the frequency of service.

Ms Lee said she is leaving politics to make way for new faces.

"I should leave at a time when I have produced results in what I do," she said, adding that she will continue to help various voluntary welfare organisations.

Her replacement in the Woodlands ward, Mr Amrin,told reporters that he joined politics to "pay it forward," and he wants to see more Singaporeans from ordinary backgrounds coming forward to serve.

"The system here has enabled me to have so many opportunities," said Mr Amrin referring to his scholarship from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore to do a master's in law at Columbia University.

"I'd like to have a part in making sure that the future generation has the same, if not better, opportunities."

Having come from humble beginnings - he grew up in a three-room flat with his blue-collar parents - he said he had an "ordinary life blessed with extraordinary people in an exceptional country".

The highest-profile addition to the Sembawang GRC line-up unveiled yesterday is Mr Ong, who lost at the polls in 2011.

He said he has learnt a lot from his battle with the Workers' Party in Aljunied GRC last time around. "(Serve residents) with your heart and soul, and with your eyes open," he said.

A former top civil servant, Mr Ong was widely tipped in 2011 to be an office-holder if elected.

He left the civil service for the labour union in 2008, then joined Keppel in 2013.

Asked about the difference between working in the private and public sectors, he said in Mandarin: "A home-grown company has made the achievements it has, because it lives and breathes its business. Singapore has the same story as Keppel - it needs passionate people to succeed."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'PAP's full slate to have fair share of women'. Print Edition | Subscribe