Story | Michael Sagna, Managing Editor and Xie Yihui, Editor-in-Chief
Photo credit | The Workers’ Party
Pritam Singh, Leader of the Opposition and of Singapore’s most prominent opposition party, the Workers’ Party, will be the guest speaker at the Yale-NUS College 2021 graduation ceremony, The Octant confirmed during a meeting with Tan Tai Yong, President of Yale-NUS, on Feb. 9, 2021.
Explaining the reasoning behind this decision, Prof. Tan said Mr. Singh’s name “came up right at the top” in a survey to the graduating students on their preferred graduation speaker. He followed this up with a clarification that the college’s administration did, of course, have a say, but that he supported the choice.
“I think it was all timing because there was the general election, and the Workers’ Party did well. Pritam conducted himself very well—he was very impressive. He won enough seats that the government decided to make him Leader of the Opposition which is quite historic in Singapore’s political history.”
“I think he looks like a good chap to have. I wrote to him, and he replied that he would be honoured,” Prof. Tan continued.
Prof. Tan also revealed other student favorites. He said, “Jamus Lim’s name did come up but, I mean, basically, between the two I would go for Pritam because he’s the Leader of the Opposition and he’s been around longer.”
Prof. Tan also said that Dr. Lim already spoke at a panel discussion titled “International Economic Policy x Data” organized by Yale-NUS Data Science. However, he did float the possibility that Dr. Lim could be invited to speak again in a future event.
When asked about whether he would be criticized for inviting an opposition figure, Prof. Tan stood firm in his conviction that he had made the right decision.
“My thinking is this: we wanted a fresh face. He’s Leader of the Opposition. He’s earned his right through a general election and the leader of the opposition is a senior political appointment.
“I think these are decisions we take for good reasons and I’m prepared to stand by.”
He also added: “I know Pritam personally, he is a good man and he’s got good messages.”
Mr. Singh did not reply to a request for comment.