Singapore

Pritam Singh seen as front runner to take over as WP chief

Workers' Party (WP) assistant secretary-general Pritam Singh, 41, looks set to take over from party chief Low Thia Khiang.

Party insiders see him as the front runner, The Straits Times learned from interviews with more than a dozen current and former WP members.

But Mr Singh declined to fuel speculation.

Asked last night if he would consider stepping up to the plate, he said: "It's quite premature for me to even consider this... At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you want it or not. It's who the party cadres want to represent the party as secretary-general."

Mr Singh leads the pack for a few reasons, said WP members, most of whom asked not to be named, citing party rules.

First, party cadres - who will elect the secretary-general at an election next year - will likely favour an elected MP as WP chief. The party has nine MPs, of whom six are elected MPs.

The second reason: Mr Low's stepping down is part of a larger move to renew the WP's leadership, and this would be in doubt if he hands over to someone in his or her 50s. Mr Low is 61.

"If they pick Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao or Png Eng Huat as the next leader, it will not be renewal," said former WP executive council member Goh Meng Seng, referring to the three elected MPs who are aged, 52, 56 and 55 respectively.

One big uncertainty is the lawsuit brought against WP MPs by an independent panel representing Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.

Mr Low and Ms Lim are named in claims hitting $33 million. Mr Singh is less exposed. He is tied to $2.8 million in claims, and even then, he is held collectively accountable with four others.

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