Saturday, 31 Oct 2020

Singapore GE 2020: PAP unveils four more candidates, including LinkedIn public policy chief Alvin Tan

SINGAPORE – One runs a social enterprise, while three other PAP new faces have spent years volunteering their time with the elderly, the religious community and youth.

The latest batch of PAP candidates unveiled on Thursday (June 25) bring with them years of experience in community and volunteer work, on top of time spent in the civil service or corporate world.

For instance, Ms Yeo Wan Ling, who used to work for the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), helps match caregivers to those who need one through a social enterprise.

Mr Alvin Tan is a long-time grassroots volunteer who works for the tech giant LinkedIn.

He has been helping the elderly and youth acquire digital skills amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Polytechnic lecturer Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah defied convention by going from the Normal stream to obtaining a PhD. He has been active for many years in inter-religious circles.

Former civil servant Eric Chua, who came from humble beginnings, has been working with youth for more than a decade. He won a scholarship from the Public Service Commission and rose up the ranks in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

Speaking at a virtual press conference streamed from the PAP headquarters in New Upper Changi Road, PAP vice-chairman Masagos Zulkifli said the new candidates have gone through “varied and interesting journeys” in their lives.

He added that he is confident they will provide different viewpoints and contribute to the party.

With Thursday’s introductions, the PAP has so far unveiled 19 of the 26 new faces it is expected to field in the July 10 election.

The candidates introduced by Mr Masagos are:

Ms Yeo Wan Ling, 44, chief executive of social enterprise Caregiver Asia

Ms Yeo was part of the global operations team at the EDB. She now runs Caregiver Asia, a social enterprise that connects those in need of care with freelance caregivers in Singapore. She said she hopes create more opportunities for the elderly in Singapore to continue to work or contribute to the community.

Ms Yeo, who is married, said entering politics will give her an opportunity to bring together her experience in the civil service and working with the community, and enact wider policy change on a larger platform.

Mr Alvin Tan Sheng , 39, Head of Public Policy and Economics at LinkedIn

Mr Tan has been a grassroots volunteer since 2005, working together with Jalan Besar GRC MP Lily Neo in Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng. Speaking in Mandarin, he said he has had an unconventional education pathway – he was once held back a grade, and did not do well enough to enter a local university.

Despite the earlier setbacks, he earned a Bachelor of Economics (with First Class Honours) from Sydney University, and later a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University. He has worked in the Ministry of Defence, at the United Nations and non-profit Oxfam, as well as in investment banking and the technology sector – earlier at social media giant Facebook and now at social networking platform LinkedIn.

He said he hopes to use his skills and experience across the public, private and non-profit sectors to help Singaporeans become more nimble, and be prepared for the future of work. He said he also hopes to bridge the digital divide for seniors and other vulnerable groups, noting that the Covid-19 pandemic has hastened the need for all Singaporeans to acquire such digital skills.

Work is now being done to help these groups, and he will continue to “tirelessly advocate” for more to be done, he said. “By the time Covid-19 is over… if we (still) haven’t become comfortable with technology, I think we might have failed our people,” he added.

Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, 42, senior lecturer at Republic Polytechnic

Dr Wan Rizal, who is married with four children, started volunteering in the community in 2010. He was chairman of Al-Islah mosque in Punggol, and was also part of Punggol’s Interracial and Religious Confidence Circle.

He said hopes “to be a voice in Parliament that upholds social mobility” because of the non-linear path in education that he has taken. He was a student in the Normal (Academic) stream before obtaining a polytechnic diploma and enrolling in the National Institute of Education and later Nanyang Technological University, where he obtained his degree in physical education at the age of 31.

Mr Eric Chua Swee Leong, 41, former director of the SGSecure Programme Office

Mr Chua grew up in a three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio. His father was a forklift driver and his mother was a seamstress.

He was awarded the Local Merit Scholarship (Civil Defence) by the Public Service Commission to read Communications Studies at Nanyang Technological University. He served with the SCDF, eventually becoming Commander of the 3rd SCDF Division.

Most recently, he was director of the SGSecure Programme Office in Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mr Chua, whose baby boy is eight days old, has spent 15 years doing community work with youth. He said he finds joy and satisfaction in mentoring young people and seeing them find success in life.

He added that he hopes to continue his work with youth and to hear their concerns on issues such as social mobility and income inequality.

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