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    May 27, 2016

    Future WP leaders may emerge in Sunday meet

    THE Workers' Party (WP) is holding its party conference this Sunday to elect a new team to its top decision-making body, in a bid to pave the way for leadership succession.

    Last month, the party took the unusual step of appointing 28 new cadres - party members with voting rights to elect the Central Executive Council (CEC) - bringing the total number of cadres to around 130, party sources said.

    New cadres are typically not inducted in such large numbers, and fewer than 10 new cadres were added in the previous round of cadre admissions two years ago.

    The latest batch of 28 include candidates in last year's general election and WP grassroots activists, and are mostly aligned with WP chief Low Thia Khiang's focus on leadership renewal, sources said.

    They include Marine Parade GRC candidates Dylan Ng and Firuz Khan and Nee Soon GRC candidates Cheryl Loh and Ron Tan.

    Party insiders said admitting them as cadres gives Mr Low the assurance that those earmarked for leadership positions can be elected into the CEC. He will also have a firmer hand in determining the timetable for succession, they added.

    On Sunday, Mr Low and party chairman Sylvia Lim are expected to retain their positions unopposed, as they have the confidence of a majority of the CEC and most cadres.

    Neither Mr Low or Ms Lim has been challenged since they assumed their positions in 2001 and 2003 respectively.

    Succession planning is a top priority for Mr Low who made leadership renewal in the WP a key message at last year's general election.

    He had identified the WP's candidates in East Coast GRC and Fengshan as future leaders of the party, and all eyes will be on signs of the next secretary-general or chairman emerging among them.

    In particular, Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) Daniel Goh, part of the WP's East Coast team, has been helping out at Mr Low's Meet-the-People Session, while NCMP Dennis Tan, who stood in Fengshan single seat, has been assisting Mr Low in his administrative duties.

    Analysts said it was worth watching CEC moves for indicators of who might be next to lead the party.

    Institute of Policy Studies deputy director Gillian Koh said: "As the leading opposition party, some attention will be given to whether there will be new faces in its governing committee and if there are indications of leadership succession beyond just the positions that Mr Low and Ms Lim hold."