PAP top body co-opts 4 new faces, including Ng Chee Meng

Unchanged faces in CEC's top ranks show need for unity amid Covid-19 fight: Analysts

The four members co-opted are (clockwise from top left): Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye.
The four members co-opted are (above) Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye.
The four members co-opted are (clockwise from top left): Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye.
The four members co-opted are Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng (above), MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye.
The four members co-opted are (clockwise from top left): Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye.
The four members co-opted are Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, (above) MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye.
The four members co-opted are (clockwise from top left): Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye.
The four members co-opted are Minister Edwin Tong, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye (above).

The People's Action Party (PAP) co-opted four new members into its highest decision-making body yesterday, a move some political observers say identifies three faces to watch.

They are Minister Edwin Tong, MP Alex Yam and businessman Victor Lye, a PAP grassroots leader who had contested, without success, in two general elections.

The fourth was a non-surprise: labour chief Ng Chee Meng, who led the team that lost to the Workers' Party (WP) in Sengkang GRC in July's general election.

Given the close ties between the PAP and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), it would be a "massive departure" from the past if the labour movement was not represented in the 36th Central Executive Committee (CEC), Singapore Management University's Associate Professor Eugene Tan, a former Nominated MP, told The Straits Times.

Yesterday's announcement also signals the PAP's succession plan is intact, with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat poised to take over from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the observers added.

DPM Heng and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing remain first and second assistant secretaries-general.

The organising secretaries continue to be National Development Minister Desmond Lee, and Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu.

Mr Lee, with Education Minister Lawrence Wong, was elected by party cadres for the first time into the CEC at the PAP's biennial party conference earlier this month.

Two others were also co-opted into the CEC for garnering the next-highest number of votes after the top 12 were elected.

The duo are Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, and Mrs Josephine Teo, the Manpower Minister.

Mr Wong will continue to chair the party's Policy Forum and Mrs Teo, its Women's Wing.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will remain as party chairman and Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, its vice-chairman.

The party treasurer is Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam and the assistant treasurer is Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.

PM Lee remains the PAP's secretary-general.

The unchanged faces in the top ranks of the CEC did not surprise the analysts, given the need for party unity as the Government battles Covid-19.

"Right after GE, and with the crisis of a generation, what you want is stability and continuity," said Prof Tan.

Added former PAP MP Inderjit Singh: "The PAP does not want to make it seem someone has to take the fall for the (GE) results. So the signal is no change in succession plan for now."

The PAP's overall vote share in GE2020 is 61.24 per cent, an almost nine percentage point drop from 2015. It also lost the newly formed Sengkang GRC, giving the WP victory in two group representation constituencies and one single-member constituency.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2020, with the headline 'PAP top body co-opts 4 new faces, including Ng Chee Meng'. Print Edition | Subscribe