SINGAPORE : The Workers' Party (WP) Secretary-General, Low Thia Khiang said his party has done its due diligence to screen candidates for the elections.
He was responding to calls by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) for voters to scrutinise opposition candidates and for them to show their track records.
Mr Low formally unveiled the party's first batch of candidates for the upcoming elections on Wednesday.
They are 32-year-old trainer Lee Li Lian, who is also WP's Deputy Treasurer; 35-year-old family consultant Mohamed Faisal Abdul Manap; 33-year-old senior IT consultant Gerald Giam Yean Song; and 55-year-old fund manager Eric Tan Heng Chong.
Mr Tan is also the party's Treasurer, and he had stood in East Coast GRC at the last election in 2006.
Mr Low said the slate of WP candidates this time is mature and experienced, and they will help strengthen the party's leadership after the elections.
He said the candidates go through a selection process, which includes interviews with its top leadership, exposure to party activities, feedback from members, and scrutiny into their backgrounds.
All in, 23 candidates are expected to be fielded, from an original batch of about 50.
Mr Low said: "Our conscience is clear. That is important because we've done our due diligence; we make assessment, we make judgement. We don't field anyone who comes to us. That is important to us. Although we don't have the mechanism like the PAP, by way of institutionalised kind of scrutiny, but we do have our due diligence.
"Moving forward, the voters will have to make the judgement. If the Worker's Party makes the wrong judgement, it may not be as bad; but if the PAP makes the wrong judgement and you get the wrong person to be prime minister, I think we will all be in trouble."
The PAP had recently questioned the motivations of lawyer Chen Show Mao - who is back in Singapore after being away for about 30 years.
"It's a natural curiosity - people want to know why is it you suddenly want to come back. To be honest with you, we also have the same question. I have asked those questions, we went into the details and we are satisfied, and we've decided to field him as a candidate," said Mr Low.
Mr Low noted the party's candidates come with their own work, grassroots and NGO experiences.
Mr Faisal hopes to use his years of experience as a marriage counsellor to champion pro-family policies.
"I've been doing counselling for the past four years, and my forte is marriage counselling for Malay Muslim families. I have seen a lot of broken families, a lot of divorces, because of the situation we are living in right now. So I want to create an environment which is more pro-family," said Mr Faisal, WP's new candidate.
"There is still a group of people, whom I call the forgotten group of people, for example the single parents, the stay-at-home parents. By standing as a candidate, I really hope to speak up for these people so that they are not forgotten," said WP's new candidate Lee Li Lian.
New candidate Gerald Giam said he did not go into politics because he's against the PAP. But rather, it's because he wants to build up a strong alternative party.
"I had the early part of my career at the Foreign Ministry, so during that time I did get the chance to see how policies are formulated in Singapore, and I not only understood the short comings but also the constraints that policy makers face," said Mr Giam.
"I also have experience in the private sector which I'm in now, so I understand the different dynamics that take place in the private sector compared to the civil service," he added.
Eric Tan, who has 23 years of banking experience, said: "I could bring to the table how multi-nationals (companies) think and function. So my understanding of financial markets and private sector, in terms of how multi-nationals (companies) operate and how they train their talents, how they interact with other countries, I think I could bring that to the table."
Mr Low described this year's elections as a "watershed" one for modern Singapore.
He gave three reasons for this.
Firstly, the PAP declaring that the next Prime Minister will be among the batch of new candidates introduced.
Secondly, the strength of the opposition being "at an all-time high."
And thirdly, Singapore's transformation from a third to first world nation, which Mr Low said cannot be simply about the material well being of the people.
At the moment, the WP is reluctant to reveal where its candidates are contesting. But what we do know is that the party will contest four Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and four Single Member Constituencies (SMCs), of which at least two SMCs are likely to see multi-cornered fights.