Nicole Seah’s Untimely Departure

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Three years after she burst on to the political scene with a youthful freshness and bountiful energy, opposition politician Nicole Seah is leaving her party, the National Solidarity Party.

Her departure was not unexpected, coming soon after her move to Bangkok for work and displaying a tiredness for political and community work in recent months. This is how she explained her departure:

“Leaving the NSP was an extremely difficult and painful decision to make, and there was nothing which might have happened to trigger this departure. I started in politics as a fresh graduate wanting to make a difference, by bringing more political awareness and interest to young people in the last couple of years. It’s reached a point where I feel that my job is done (for now) and I have to move on and grow in other areas, before I can continue to give back to the communities I choose to place myself in.

“Singapore is always home, and what is far more crucial is for everyone to recognize that in everyone’s way, we just want the best for this country using the most productive channels possible. I do hope that there will be more constructive discussions taking place in public domains, that we will have a less biased state media, and that our political discourse as a nation continues to mature in the right direction.

“I wish NSP all the best, and continue to hold its leadership and members in high regard. We continue to remain friends. For myself, this is not a complete departure from politics, as I continue to keep tabs on what is happening back home. I will just need to find a more suitable platform to contribute and give back.”

What is she trying to tell younger Singaporeans with this statement? That three years is the shelf life of a politician? How can three years be enough when Singapore is entering a new phase of contestation with the next elections likely to be another crucial fight?

Nicole is not the first opposition politician to quit her party; Vincent Wijeysingha resigned from SDP last year to champion LGBT issues, Tan Jee Say and Ang Yong Guan left SDP to start up on their own. And Ben Pwee left SPP to be his own boss at DPP.

Political departures are not unusual but the Nicole Seahs of this world leave behind a lasting impression that politics cannot be run like a 100 metre sprint. It is a long-haul race that needs patience and stamina to stay the course.

In the three years she was there, she gave hope to many.  We hope her departure will not put many young people off politics.