Singapore

SingFirst's Melvyn Chiu was priority for locals

SingFirst candidate believes strongly that priority should be given to locals

Mr Melvyn Chiu says he is one among many in Singapore's middle class.

That's why the 36-year-old wants to be a voice for this group in Parliament.

The SingFirst candidate, who will be contesting in the Tanjong Pagar group representation constituency (GRC), grew up in a single-parent family and lives with his mother in a four-room flat in Potong Pasir.

He joined SingFirst in December last year, after reading about the party in the news and taking an interest in their manifesto.

"I looked at the name 'Singaporeans First' and naturally it inspired me because I really wanted to do something for Singaporeans... I strongly believe that priorities should be given to Singaporeans."

Despite being the youngest candidate fielded by the party, Mr Chiu said that the age gap with older party members who are more than 20 years his senior is no issue and that they are able to talk about "almost everything under the sun".

"Cheaper foreigners replace us easily because they ask for less pay. They can have a comfortable life (back home) based on a lower wage and as a result our wages get squeezed low, but we cannot live comfortably with the same salary as them."

- Mr Melvyn Chiu

PROFILE

WHO: Chiu Weng Hoe Melvyn

WHAT: Sales executive

FAMILY: Single

POLITICAL CAREER SO FAR: 2015: Singaporeans First’s Tanjong Pagar GRC candidate

Mr Melvyn Chiu on...

BEING A VOICE

Mr Chiu believes that young Singaporeans like himself, belonging to the professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) group, are the "squeezed middle class" who are in direct competition with foreigners who come to Singapore to work.

"Cheaper foreigners replace us easily because they ask for less pay," he said. "They can have a comfortable life (back home) based on a lower wage and as a result our wages get squeezed low, but we cannot live comfortably with the same salary as them."

He also highlighted the struggles that young Singaporeans face in buying a home and starting a family.

Although he is unmarried and has no girlfriend, Mr Chiu said that he looks forward to starting his own family in the near future and that he is already "behind time" compared with his peers.

"Something has to be done for people who fall into this category."

NOT GIVING UP

Mr Chiu took five years to complete his O levels because he was distracted by remote control cars, computer games and football.

And he managed to finish his bachelor's degree only at the age of 33.

He persevered because he felt proper qualifications were important in Singapore.

Last year, he graduated top of his class for his masters degree in Monash University, taken at its Malaysia campus. Both his degrees were self-financed.

He said: "I was very playful and a 'late-bloomer'. But I want to show people that it's not the end of the world just because you didn't do well in your younger days like me.

"There's always chances to develop yourself."

Although he didn't graduate from elite schools, Mr Chiu said he believes that doesn't limit his potential to serve and help people.

MATURE POLITICS

When Mr Chiu first told his mother a few weeks ago that he was standing as a candidate in the Sept 11 polls, she was shocked.

Said Mr Chiu: "Like any caring mother, she was scared that I would get into trouble. But after explaining SingFirst's manifesto and my plans, she was supportive and said, 'Okay go ahead, just don't end up in jail'."

Family and friends have called him brave for entering politics under the banner of an opposition party, but Mr Chiu disagrees.

He said the stigma of being associated with an opposition party is no longer as strong.

"Singapore's political scene is mature enough. Most importantly you need to know what you're championing. Whether you are from the ruling or the opposition party, all we want to do is to have good policies and help Singaporeans," said Mr Chiu.

Singapore ElectionsSingFirstMelvin Chiu