Workers' Party to elect central executive committee on Dec 27

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and the Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim. WP will be electing the party's secretary-general and chairman on Dec 27.
Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and the Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim. WP will be electing the party's secretary-general and chairman on Dec 27.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In two weeks, members of the Workers' Party (WP) will vote on the party's next central executive committee (CEC).

They will elect the WP's secretary-general and chairman for the next two years, as well as 12 other members of the party's top decision-making body.

One of the big questions this year is whether WP chairman Sylvia Lim, who has held the post since 2003, will make way for new blood as leadership renewal continues in the party.

The WP's last internal election in 2018 saw then party chief Low Thia Khiang stepping down after 17 years at the helm as secretary-general, and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh elected unopposed to the seat.

Party insiders told The Straits Times that the list of people up for election will be out Dec 27, when the polls take place.

Chinese Daily Lianhe Zaobao first reported on Sunday (Dec 13) on the WP's internal election.

Possible contenders for the post of chairman include Hougang MP Dennis Tan and Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam, said Mr Leonard Lim, country director at regional government affairs consultancy Vriens & Partners.

Both men are current CEC members and were mentored by Mr Low, he said. They will appeal to the WP's traditional Mandarin and dialect-speaking base, but still engage well with younger English-speaking supporters.

He added that at least one of the new Sengkang MPs - for instance, Sengkang Town Council chairman He Ting Ru - is likely to be in the new CEC.

Dr Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University, noted it would not be a surprise if Mr Low, as well as Mr Chen Show Mao and Mr Png Eng Huat, stood down altogether from their CEC posts. All three were former MPs, but did not contest the most recent general election.

"The accent will be on change, renewal and growth," Dr Tan said, adding that some, if not all, of the five new MPs are likely to join the CEC.

The experts differed, however, in their views on the impact that the ongoing Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) court case would have on the party's new CEC.

Dr Tan pointed out that the case did not feature strongly in the WP's last internal election, and is similarly unlikely to be a major consideration this year.

Even if Mr Singh and Ms Lim, who were found liable for various breaches, are unsuccessful in their appeal, it would affect their status as MPs rather than as CEC members, he said.

But Mr Lim felt that the court case would be a consideration for the party, even if the outcome is couched publicly as a leadership renewal.

"The WP is in a decent position to have a new chairman who will not be distracted by the legal proceedings, and who can focus on building on its strong showing in the last GE," he said.

Additional reporting by Tham Yuen-C