Vivian Balakrishnan replaces Ng Eng Hen in PAP’s top decision-making body

One in this group may be the next PM. Or not.

By Martino Tan | December 4, 2016

The People’s Action Party (PAP) held their 34th Party Conference this morning Dec. 4 at Singapore Expo.

They elected the central executive committee (CEC), PAP’s highest decision-making body, for a two-year term.

Unlike the Workers’ Party (WP) CEC election, there was less drama. For instance, there was no challenge to the Secretary General.


Anyway, the 14-member CEC list are as follows, not in order of highest votes:

1. Lee Hsien Loong, Secretary-general
2. Khaw Boon Wan, Chairman
3. Yaacob Ibrahim, Vice Chairman
4. Teo Chee Hean, First assistant secretary-general
5. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Second assistant secretary-general
6. Lim Swee Say, Treasurer
7. K Shanmugam, Assistant treasurer
8. Chan Chun Sing, Organising secretary
9. Gan Kim Yong, Organising secretary
10. Grace Fu
11. Heng Swee Keat
12. Halimah Yacob

Co-opted members

13. Vivian Balakrishnan
14. Tan Chuan-Jin

What is the significance of this PAP’s CEC election?

This election can be seen as part of PAP’s leadership renewal.

As PAP Sec-Gen Lee Hsien Loong said in his speech, PAP has “strengthened the next leadership team in the last two GEs” and he hoped that “more will be elected into the CEC” this time.

Was Lee’s wish granted?

Kind of.

Among the CEC members are three fourth generation leaders — Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing and Tan Chuan-Jin (who was co-opted).

But this is also a show of how some PAP MPs are more popular than others in the eyes of the party’s card-carrying members.

And one’s social ranking will have an influence on one’s political career.

It appears that this CEC election is a “status quo” CEC, with only one change at the top — Vivian Balakrishnan taking over from Ng Eng Hen.

As expected, there was no movement among the top — Lee, Khaw Boon Wan, Teo Chee Hean, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Yaacob Ibrahim, Lim Swee Say, and K Shanmugam.

The top seven also held PAP office positions that had remained unchanged since 2010.

Who are the winners and non-winners

Vivian Balakrishnan, the Foreign Minister, is the big winner.

He was not in the CEC two years ago. Perhaps his higher profile in the Foreign Ministry portfolio helped him.

Another winner was Speaker Halimah Yacob, who is now the top 12 vote getters.

She finished 13th and 14th in the last CEC. This certainly will excite the PAP activists who see her as a potential Presidential Election candidate next year.

The non-winners?

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is not part of the 14-member CEC. But the word among the PAP activists was that he was not on the 17-person ballot this time.

Half of the fourth generation leaders were not elected. They include Lawrence Wong, Ong Ye Kung and Ng Chee Meng.

With GE happening by 2021, this means that the three Ministers have one more CEC election in 2018 to get to the top 14, before it is too late.

Related article:

Everything you need to know about PAP’s first ‘annual report’ after GE 2015


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About Martino Tan

Martino’s parents named him after an Italian priest, Vatican's 1st ambassador to S’pore. He's inspired by the lives of Robert Kennedy & D. Bonhoeffer, the words of G.Orwell & T.Sorensen, & the music of the Beatles.

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