A crucial balancing act

Dr Poh Lee Guan trying to escape from the media on Nomination Day last Wednesday.

Politcal party renewal is not new.

But sometimes, the process can be painful, and public.

Veteran Workers' Party (WP) member Poh Lee Guan, 50, surprised everyone, including his party leadership, when he said he was the unofficial backup candidate, the "spare tyre".

The WP stalwart had contested in the 2001, 2006 and 2011 General Elections (GEs).

His action raised questions.

Party insiders said he was unhappy at being passed over in favour of Mr Png Eng Huat.

Mr Png, also 50, a businessman, is the party-endorsed candidate.

Renewal can be a "touchy" issue for veteran politicians, said Mr Goh Meng Seng, the former secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party (NSP).

Said Mr Goh: "Success should not just belong only to those who get elected, but should also be credited to the whole team.

"Politicians largely want face.

"If they were to step down, you have to do it properly, pat their backs and recognise whatever contributions they made. Don't brush them aside."

Ms Hazel Poa took over as NSP's secretary-general after Mr Goh stepped down in June.

But others step down because they did not get key positions. (See report on facing page.)

Last week, Mr Sajeev Kamalasanan, 42, quit WP because of unhappiness over the selection of cadre members.

He had joined WP in 2006.

What is it about being a cadre member that's so important?

For WP, insiders said, cadreship in the party is exclusive. While there is no quota on the numbers, less than 10 people are made cadres each year.

A central executive committee (CEC) member must nominate a member to become a cadre. The CEC then decides if they should approve the choice.

The cadre can vote on who makes up the CEC, and you have to be a cadre in order to be elected to the CEC.

The New Paper understands that WP has more than 60 cadres.

The party did not reply to queries by press time.

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