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At a time of expansion and growing confidence, the Singapore Democrats have elected a 14-member Central Executive Committee to lead the party into the next general elections.
At its biennial party conference held last week, cadre members came together to re-dedicate their efforts to work for the cause of reform and democracy in Singapore.
The party’s top four posts remain unchanged. Mr Gandhi Ambalam retained the chairmanship and Mr Francis Yong continues to serve as the Vice-Chairman.
Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr John Tan were re-elected as the Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General respectively.
A change was made in the post of Treasurer which was taken up by Mr Gerald Sng, a Marketing Manager, who contested in the 2006 elections. Deputising him is Assistant Treasurer Mr Jeffrey George, an engineer in the oil-rig industry.
After a keenly fought elections, the following six were elected into the executive body: Ms Chee Siok Chin, Ms Lilian Chia, Mr Johnny Ho, Mr Mohd Isa, Mr Jufrie Mahmood, and Mr Sylvester Lim.
This year saw a couple of “new” faces added to the line-up: Messrs Jufrie Mahmood and Sylvester Lim. Mr Jufrie, a party stalwart who was once “loaned” to the Workers’ Party when the late J B Jeyaretnam was the secretary-general, returned to the SDP’s leadership.
“I came back because I have confidence in the present leadership of the SDP,” the opposition veteran said, “and I think that the party is moving in the right direction. The growth in its ranks attests to this.”
The other first-timer is Mr Sylvester Lim whose quiet demeanour belies a fierce commitment to the ideals of democracy and justice.
“We are excited about what lies ahead and we are determined to work for change and for a government that genuinely cares for the people,” Mr Lim said.
Anticipating the intense work ahead, the newly elected leadership intends to co-opt two more members into its fold. They are Mr Laurence Lai and Mr Warren Eswaran. Mr Lai served in the previous CEC. Mr Eswaran, 25, is a member of the Young Democrats and has been with the party since his National Service days.
“Warren’s inclusion in the CEC is a reflection of the increasing interest young Singaporeans are taking in us,” Chairman Ambalam noted. “We want to ensure that our Young Democrats are actively involved in the party’s direction and development.”
The Young Democrats, the SDP’s youth wing, will also shortly elect its leaders.
The new CEC has expressed its determination to continue expanding the party in numbers as well as capability to reach out to Singaporeans. It will rely on the Internet, as it has in the past, to call on Singaporeans to step forward and help spread the message of working towards a free, open and just Singapore. (Watch video of Dr Chee’s address to party cadres here.)
(Standing L-R) Sylvester Lim, Jufrie Mahmood, Chee Siok Chin, Lilian Chia, Johnny Ho, Gerald Sng
(Kneeling L-R) Chee Soon Juan, Francis Yong, Jeffrey George, Gandhi Ambalam, John Tan, Mohd Isa
(Laurence Lai and Warren Eswaran are not in the photograph)