SINGAPORE - In party elections on Sunday (Dec 27), the Workers' Party sent its four Sengkang GRC MPs to its top decision-making body, in a renewal of its leadership ranks.
It also returned its top leaders, secretary-general Pritam Singh, 44, and chairman Sylvia Lim, 55, unopposed to their posts.
The biennial internal election comes in the back of the WP's strong showing in the July general election, with all 10 of the party's MPs elected into the central executive committee.
Speaking to the media after the party's four-hour cadre members conference yesterday, Mr Singh said: "We have party elections every two years and the cadre membership is free to vote in other individuals onto the CEC.
"But I think this time around the cadre membership recognises the importance of this renewal trajectory that we are on having a good balance of experience and new blood. So, it has been a positive afternoon."
Among the new faces in the CEC are the WP's four Sengkang GRC MPs He Ting Ru, 37; Raeesah Khan, 27; Jamus Lim, 44; and Louis Chua, 33.
The quartet pulled off the biggest upset of the July 10 polls, taking Sengkang GRC from the People's Action Party team comprising labour chief Ng Chee Meng, 52, as well as other office-holders.
Party members at the CEC election said on condition of anonymity that Associate Professor Lim was among those who garnered the highest votes yesterday.
Two of the party's East Coast GRC candidates were also elected into the CEC - Ms Nicole Seah, 34, and Mr Kenneth Foo, 43, a previous CEC member.
Asked if this signalled that the party would field a team in that GRC at the next election, Mr Singh said it was too early to discuss the matter, but added that with hardworking people like Ms Seah and Mr Foo on the ground, there was a "higher chance that you will do well and you will meet the outcomes that you are betting for".
The WP has contested East Coast since the 2006 election. But the surprise move of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat to anchor the constituency for the PAP in this year's election threw up questions about whether the WP would relook its strategy there.
The other members elected to the WP CEC include Mr Singh and Ms Lim's fellow Aljunied GRC MPs, Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, 45; Mr Gerald Giam, 43; and Mr Leon Perera, 50, as well as Hougang MP Dennis Tan, 50.
Former WP leader Low Thia Khiang, 64, and former Hougang MP Png Eng Huat, 59, who both retired from politics at the recent general election, also remain members of the CEC.
While there had been speculation ahead of the election that older members might step down in the spirit of renewal, Mr Singh said yesterday that he was glad they had remained on the team, given their experience.
He credited them for playing a large part in shaping the WP into "more of a mainstream opposition party" and disclosed that he had asked Mr Low to stay on to help out with Ms He and Ms Raeesah set to go on maternity leave soon.
"He has got a rich and long history of political contests in Singapore. (He knows) what the realities of an opposition party are, what can be done, what can't be done," he said.
"I think the younger members will benefit tremendously from that input, so I'm particularly pleased for Mr Low's continued membership and participation in the CEC."
Ms Lim said she had thought about whether she should stay on after 17 years in her post, and was asked to do so by other CEC members.
She added: We are of course consciously grooming our younger leaders to take over in due course from my position. Exactly when that will happen will depend on many factors, and also what the party needs at a particular point in time."
Meanwhile, newly elected CEC members Ms Seah and Mr Chua told reporters that they looked forward to learning from the older, more experienced leaders and members.
The party said in a press release that the new CEC "has taken office and started work with immediate effect".
Previous CEC members who were not re-elected include former Aljunied GRC MP Chen Show Mao and former Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh, who remain members of the party.
Also stepping down are Mr Firuz Khan, Ms Lee Li Lian, Dr John Yam and Mr Terence Tan.