Pritam Singh elected secretary general, takes charge of Workers’ Party

The two-term MP, elected unopposed as WP's secretary general, is seen as the party's leader in the waiting

Pritam Singh – Photo: Workers’ Party, Singapore

Pritam Singh won unopposed today the second most important position in Workers’ Party, Singapore’s largest opposition political party.

The 42-year old second-term parliamentarian went into the WP’s biennial central executive council (CEC) elections as the party’s assistant secretary-general. Party chairman Sylvia Lim was also re-elected unopposed.

Pritam succeeds Low Thia Khiang, who had successfully defended the position in 2016 when challenged by MP for Aljunied GRC Chen Show Mao.

SEE ALSO: Pritam named Aljunied-Hougang Town Council chairman

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Pritam first entered parliament after a spectacular victory in the 2011 general elections. He was part of a five-person WP’s team that took on People’s Action Party (PAP) team led by Foreign Minister George Yeo for the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC). WP’s victory in that contest marked the first occasion in Singapore’s history when an opposition party had won an election in a GRC.

GRC is unique to the Singapore political landscape. Political parties are required to field a team of between three to six candidates, with at least one of them coming from a minority race.

WP repeated the same success in Aljunied in 2015, with Pritam again being part of the team.

Pritam was then appointed as the chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, the only town council cornered by an opposition party after the 2015 polls.

Pritam is a locum solicitor at Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP, according to a profile at the WP website. A locum solicitor is one who is engaged on a freelance or temporary basis.

He graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a Bachelor of Arts degree and later read a Master of Arts degree from King’s College in London, which he attended as a Chevening scholar. He also has a Diploma in Islamic Studies (by correspondence) from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

He also holds a Juris Doctor (cum laude) degree from the Singapore Management University.


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These Sikhs may get a ticket in next Malaysian general elections (Asia Samachar, 6 April 2018)

National Party assigns MPs Kanwaljit, Dr Parmjeet key jobs (Asia Samachar, 12 March 2018)

An extraordinary woman (Asia Samachar, 20 Feb 2018)

Jagmeet Singh wins party leadership, now eyes Canadian prime ministership (Asia Samachar, 2 Oct 2017)

Pritam named Aljunied-Hougang Town Council chairman (Asia Samachar, 3 Oct 2015)


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  1. Pritam Singh elected unopposed as Workers’ Party leader
    Business Times
    09 Apr 2018
    Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh has been elected unopposed as the secretary-general of the Workers’ Party, marking a smooth handover of power at Singapore’s biggest opposition party.

    Party sources said his was the only name nominated – to unanimous and rousing applause – during the WP party conference on Sunday when cadres elected their party chief.

    Given that Chen Show Mao, 57, had challenged outgoing party leader Low Thia Khiang for the post unsuccessfully in 2016, there was speculation about whether he would do so again this time around.

    But a contest did not materialise.

    Party chairman Sylvia Lim, 53, was re-elected to her post unopposed, also to an enthusiastic reception.

    The posts of secretary-general and chairman are elected separately.

    The last time the WP saw a leadership transition was in 2001, when Mr Low was elected unopposed as party chief to succeed Mr J B Jeyaretnam.

    Mr Singh, 41, had been tipped as the front runner for secretary-general ever since Mr Low, 61, surprised Singaporeans last November by announcing that he will be stepping down.

    Though Mr Low has not spoken about what future role he will play in the party, many are expecting that he will stay on in its top decision-making body.

    Any cadre who is at the meeting, and with a seconder, can be nominated for the other 12 seats on the central executive council. The 12 with the highest votes will be selected.

    Cadres arrived at its new headquarters at the four-storey Teambuild Centre at 701 Geylang Road shortly before 2pm. Mr Low was all smiles, saying in Mandarin that he was in a good mood.

    “Wah, so many people here. Looks like a general election,” he quipped, when he saw the media scrum awaiting him.

    Sunday’s leadership change marks a new chapter for the WP.

    Under Mr Low’s charge over the past 17 years, the WP became Singapore’s most successful opposition party since independence.

    It made history when he led a team to victory in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election. It now has six MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs in Parliament.

    Eyes will be on to what extent Mr Singh, relatively inexperienced compared to Mr Low when he took the helm, can maintain WP’s electoral performance. The next general election is due by 2021.

    But for now, the first order of business for Mr Singh would be two-fold.

    Mr Chen’s 2016 challenge to Mr Low revealed fissures in the highly disciplined and secretive party. It turned out that Mr Chen’s supporters, a group of older members, had been unhappy with Mr Low for purportedly favouring younger members when fielding election candidates.

    It will now be up to Mr Singh to heal those rifts. It appears that the faction, which includes senior cadres, is willing to give him a chance by backing his nomination on Sunday.

    Mr Singh will also have to contend with an ongoing lawsuit over the WP’s Aljunied-Hougang Town Council’s accounts.

    The town council, through an independent panel, has sued the party’s MPs, including Mr Low, Ms Lim and Mr Singh, for over more than S$33 million in improper payments. The case is expected to be set for trial this year.

    Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.