Low Thia Khiang May Retire After Suffering A Fall, Chen Show Mao May Step Down After Failed Leadership Bid
While the 15-second clip posted on Tuesday (23 Jun) includes people like party chairman Sylvia Lim and secretary-general Pritam Singh, as well as GE2011 golden girl Nicole Seah, there were a few other glaring omissions.
Notably, former chief Low Thia Khiang wasn’t in the trailer, as well as fellow Aljunied Member of Parliament Chen Show Mao – and Singaporeans immediately started wondering why.
The Workers’ Party team in Aljunied GRC
2nd video posted with the same faces
On Wednesday (24 Jun), WP posted another, much longer video with the same faces, this time talking about what the party stands for, as well as a hashtag: #MakeYourVoteCount
Mr Low was seen only in a flashback in this new video.
12 people featured in videos
Besides Ms Seah, the 2 videos include Ms Lim and Mr Pritam, and also features Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) Leon Perera and Dennis Tan, as well as former Punggol East MP Lee Li Lian.
It also included Ms Cheryl Denise Loh and Mr Kenneth Foo, who contested Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in GE2015.
Among the 12 people in the video were also 4 new faces: Dr Jamus Lim, Ms Raeesah Khan, Mr Fadli Fawzi and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan.
The appearance of these 12 people in the videos were widely to presumed to mean that they will be candidates for GE2020.
However, there was no indication where they would be fielded, and if there were going to be any additional candidates besides those shown in the videos.
Could ex-chief Low Thia Khiang be retiring?
However, what was significant, besides Ms Seah’s comeback, was the absence from the video of a few party members, most notably former party chief Low Thia Khiang.
Mr Low, 63, who is Singapore’s longest-serving opposition MP, stepped down as WP chief in 2018, amid speculation that he was thinking of retiring at the upcoming GE.
After all, his doctor has told him not to rush his recovery from the fall. If he runs in GE2020, how would he be able to follow this advice while performing strenuous walkabouts and evocative campaign speeches?
Chen Show Mao made failed bid for leadership
Another notable absence was Aljunied MP Chen Show Mao.
While he has stayed largely in the background since he became an MP in 2011, he has notably spoken in Parliament to suggest teaching Malay as a third language in schools.
In 2016, though, the high-flying lawyer made waves when he challenged Mr Low for leadership of the WP – the first time anybody has challenged Mr Low for the leadership since he took over in 2001.
Though Mr Chen’s challenge was unsuccessful, it led to talk that there was a rift in the party. Months later, he quit his post as treasurer.
At the next party conference in 2018, Mr Chen did not contest the leadership after Mr Low stepped down, and Mr Pritam became the next WP chief.
As he was absent from the video, could a disappointed Mr Chen be leaving the party? Or is he being pushed?
Other notable absences
Also missing from the video was Aljunied MP Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap.
While the 45-year-old is still young enough to run for more elections, he’s also he most low-profile of the Aljunied MPs.
He is, however, the only Malay opposition MP, and has been speaking on Malay issues in Parliament, notably the Reserved Presidency in 2017.
Hougang MP Png Eng Huat was also nowhere to be found in the video.
He’s been an MP since 2012, when he won the Hougang by-election, and he’s being serving his ward enthusiastically since then, most recently posting about the dengue threat in his ward.
However, The Straits Times has quoted “party sources” as saying that Mr Png may step aside to let NCMP Dennis Tan run in Hougang.
Mr Tan, who also appeared in the 2 videos, has been accompanying Mr Png during walkabouts and activites in Hougang.
NCMP Dennis Tan (left) and Hougang MP Png Eng Huat (right) with a resident.
Does Mr Tan’s appearance in the videos, and Mr Png’s absence, signal a coming change of guard in Hougang?
WP will unveil new candidates this weekend
Exciting developments are ahead for the WP, which will answer all these questions in the next 4 days from Thursday (25 Jun) to Sunday (28 Jun).
During a series of Zoom press conferences, the party will unveil its slate of candidates for GE2020.
If stalwarts like Mr Low aren’t among them, they will be dearly missed, but we’ll also look forward to knowing the new faces better.
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