Low Thia Khiang

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Low Thia Khiang
Low Thia Khiang at a Workers' Party general election rally, Sengkang, Singapore - 20110503 (cropped).jpg
Low Thia Khiang at a 2011 rally
Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC
Assumed office
7 May 2011
Preceded byGeorge Yeo
7th Leader of the Opposition of Singapore
In office
27 May 2001 – 8 April 2018
Prime MinisterGoh Chok Tong
Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded byChiam See Tong
Succeeded byPritam Singh
9th Secretary-General of the Workers' Party of Singapore
In office
27 May 2001 – 8 April 2018
Prime MinisterGoh Chok Tong
Lee Hsien Loong
ChairmanSylvia Lim
AssistantPritam Singh (2018)
Preceded byJ. B. Jeyaretnam
Succeeded byPritam Singh
Member of Parliament
for Hougang SMC
In office
31 August 1991 – 7 May 2011
Preceded byTang Guan Seng (PAP)
Succeeded byYaw Shin Leong
Personal details
Born5 September 1956 (1956-09-05) (age 62)
Colony of Singapore
Political partyWorkers' Party of Singapore (1991–present)
Han Mui Keow (m. 1982)
Children2 sons
1 daughter
Alma materNanyang University
National University of Singapore
ProfessionBusinessman, teacher

Low Thia Khiang (simplified Chinese: 刘程强; traditional Chinese: 劉程強; pinyin: Liú Chéng Qiáng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lâu Thiâⁿ-kiàng; born 5 September 1956) is a Singaporean politician and businessman. He was the leader of the Workers' Party (WP) and the leader of the opposition in Singapore's Parliament.[2][3] He had been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1991, representing the Single Member Constituency (SMC) of Hougang SMC from 1991 to 2011, and the Aljunied GRC since 2011. He is the MP responsible for the Bedok Reservoir–Punggol Division within Aljunied GRC.[4]

Low is one of six elected opposition MPs in Singapore's 13th Parliament.


Low was educated at Lik Teck Primary School and Chung Cheng High School, before going on to study at Nanyang University where he majored in Chinese language and literature, and government and public administration. In 1981, he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Chinese studies at the National University of Singapore. In 1982, he completed a diploma in education. He worked as a teacher for a few years, before starting his own business.[5]

Political career[edit]

Low joined the Workers' Party (WP) in 1982, and was subsequently appointed its Organising Secretary. At the 1984 general election, he was the election agent for the party's then Secretary-General, J. B. Jeyaretnam, in his successful campaign to win the parliamentary constituency of Anson.

Low Thia Khiang is well known for his speeches in Teochew, which have won the attraction and strong support from residents of the Hougang Constituency, who are mainly Teochew people.

In the 2016 Workers' Party Central Executive Committee (CEC) elections, Low faced a surprise contest for the position of Secretary-General by fellow Aljunied MP Chen Show Mao. This was the first time Low was challenged for the post since he took it up in 2001. Low retained his seat with 61 votes, to Chen's 45. Chen remains in the CEC as a member.[6]

Low announced at his party's 60th anniversary dinner that he would not be contesting for the post of Secretary General for 2018 party elections and would step down to renew leadership in WP after being at its helm for 17 years.[7] Low formally stepped down as WP chief on 8 April. Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing subsequently praised Low at a parliament sitting on 15 May 2018 for the role he played in parliament, acknowledging him as "a fellow Singaporean and very much part of Team Singapore", and that "(w)hile (the PAP) may not always agree with (Low's) perspectives or methods, (the PAP) nevertheless appreciate(d) his efforts to work together to build a better Singapore.[8]

1988 General Election[edit]

In 1988, Low represented the WP in a televised debate with the PAP government on proposals to create an elected Presidency for Singapore, where he engaged the late Ong Teng Cheong and Lee Hsien Loong (who would later become the President and Prime Minister of Singapore respectively). In the general election later that year, Low, together with Gopalan Nair and Lim Lye Soon, contested the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) of Tiong Bahru against only the PAP and finished second with 42.2% of the vote.[9]

1991 General Election[edit]

In 1991, Low, as the Workers' Party's Assistant Secretary-General, won the Hougang constituency in the 1991 Singapore General Elections and entered Parliament. In 1992, Low was appointed by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong to be a member of the Cost Review Committee. After a year of intensive study, Low decided to produce his own independent report as he had a different perspective from the other members of the committee.[10]

1997 General Election[edit]

Low was re-elected as the MP for Hougang at the 1997 general election, his second election victory in Hougang.[11]

2001 General Election[edit]

On 27 May 2001, he became the Secretary-General of the Workers' Party, replacing J. B. Jeyaretnam. He was re-elected again as the MP for Hougang at the 2001 general election.[12]

2006 General Election[edit]

At the 2006 general elections, Low won his fourth straight term for the Hougang constituency. He received 13,987 of the votes cast, a 62.74 per cent victory margin which is an increase of 7.74% from the last general election in November 2001. His opponent from the People's Action Party, Eric Low, received 8,306 votes.[13]

2011 General Election[edit]

Between 1997 and 2011, Low and Chiam were the only elected opposition Members of Parliament (MP) in Singapore's Parliament. At the 2011 General Election, both Low and Chiam left their seats in Hougang and Potong Pasir SMC respectively to contest in Aljunied GRC and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC respectively, risking that there will be no elected opposition MPs in parliament. Low's gamble pays off as he led the Workers' Party to a historic breakthrough in the 2011 Singapore general elections, with a victory in Aljunied GRC. The win marked the first time ever that an opposition party had won a GRC, bringing an additional five Workers' Party MPs into Parliament. His previous seat in Hougang SMC was retained by his party member, Yaw Shin Leong.[14][15]

2015 General Election[edit]

At the 2015 General Election, Low and his team won and retained their seats in Aljunied GRC. However, the team's votes share decreased to 50.96%, a drop of 3.76%, with a narrow margin of 1.9% (2626 votes). As the margin was within the 2% range, there was a recount. This was Low's sixth continuous win as an elected opposition MP (4 in Hougang SMC and 2 in Aljunied GRC). He has been one of few elected opposition MPs to successfully defend a GRC.[16]

Electoral record[edit]

General Election 1988: Tiong Bahru GRC[17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
PAP Ch'ng Jit Koon
Chng Hee Kok
S Vasoo
31,732 57.8 N/A
WP Lim Lye Soon
Low Thia Khiang
Gopalan Nair Pallichadath
23,132 42.2 N/A
Turnout 55,663 94.5% N/A
PAP win (new seat)
General Election 1991: Hougang
Party Candidate Votes % ±
WP Low Thia Khiang 10,621 52.8 +11.8
PAP Tang Guan Seng 9,487 47.2 -11.8
Majority 1,134 5.6 +23.6
Turnout 20,566 95.8 -0.4
WP gain from PAP Swing +11.8
General Election 1997: Hougang
Party Candidate Votes % ±
WP Low Thia Khiang 13,458 58.0 +5.2
PAP Heng Chee How 9,736 42.0 -5.2
Majority 3,722 16.0 +10.4
Turnout 23,505 96.2 +0.4
WP hold Swing +5.2
General Election 2001: Hougang
Party Candidate Votes % ±
WP Low Thia Khiang 12,070 55.0 -3.0
PAP Eric Low Siak Meng 9,882 45.0 +3.0
Majority 2,188 10.0 -6.0
Turnout 22,247 95.4 -0.8
WP hold Swing -3.0
General Election 2006: Hougang
Party Candidate Votes % ±
WP Low Thia Khiang 13,989 62.7 +7.7
PAP Eric Low Siak Meng 8,308 37.3 -7.7
Majority 5,681 25.4 +15.4
Turnout 22,574 95.0 -0.4
WP hold Swing +7.7
General Election 2011: Aljunied GRC
Party Candidate Votes % ±
WP Chen Show Mao
Sylvia Lim Swee Lian
Low Thia Khiang
Muhamad Faisal Manap
Pritam Singh
72,289 54.72 +10.81
PAP Lim Hwee Hua
Ong Ye Kung
Cynthia Phua
George Yong-Boon Yeo
Zainul Abidin Bin Mohamed Rasheed
59,829 45.28 -10.81
Majority 12,460 9.4
Turnout 133,906 93.5 -0.1
WP gain from PAP Swing +10.8
General Election 2015: Aljunied GRC
Party Candidate Votes % ±
WP Chen Show Mao
Sylvia Lim
Low Thia Khiang
Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap
Pritam Singh
70,050 50.96 -3.76
PAP Chua Eng Leong
K Muralidharan Pillai
Lye Thiam Fatt Joseph Victor
Shamsul Kamar bin Mohamed Razali
Yeo Guat Kwang
67,424 49.04 +3.76
Majority 2,626 1.9 -7.5
Turnout 138,474 93.8 +0.3
WP hold Swing -3.76

Personal life[edit]

Low first met Han Mui Keow while they were students at Chung Cheng High School in 1973, They were married in 1982 and had two sons and a daughter. He is a Buddhist.


  1. ^ "Low Thia Khiang". Parliament of Singapore. Government of Singapore. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Low Thia Khiang: From teacher to opposition icon". www.todayonline.com. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  3. ^ "Lee family feud is a serious matter, not a 'Korean drama show': Low Thia Khiang". Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  5. ^ "Curriculum Vitae". Parliament of Singapore.
  6. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/workers-party-chief-low-thia-khiang-retains-post-after-challenge-at-partys-internal Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang retains post after challenge by Chen Show Mao at party's internal election
  7. ^ http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/workers-party-chief-low-thia-khiang-to-step-down-as-secretary-9374216
  8. ^ hermes (2018-05-15). "Minister thanks opposition veteran Low Thia Khiang". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  9. ^ "Singapore Parliamentary General Election 1988 > Tiong Bahru GRC". www.singapore-elections.com. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  10. ^ "Singapore Parliamentary General Election 1991 > Hougang". www.singapore-elections.com. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  11. ^ "Singapore Parliamentary General Election 1997 > Hougang". www.singapore-elections.com. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  12. ^ "Singapore Parliamentary General Election 2001". www.singapore-elections.com. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  13. ^ "WP chief Low Thia Khiang wins fourth term as Hougang MP". AsiaOne.
  14. ^ Lim, Kenneth. "2011: PAP loses Aljunied GRC to WP". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  15. ^ "WP wins Aljunied GRC, makes key breakthrough". Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  16. ^ hermesauto (2015-09-12). "GE2O15: Workers' Party retains Aljunied GRC with 50.95 per cent of the vote". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  17. ^ Singapore Parliamentary General Election 1988 Results: Tiong Bahru GRC
Parliament of Singapore
Preceded by
Tang Guan Seng
Member of Parliament for Hougang
1991 – 2011
Succeeded by
Yaw Shin Leong
Preceded by
George Yeo
Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC
2011 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
J.B. Jeyaretnam
Secretary-General of the Workers' Party
2001 – 2018
Succeeded by
Pritam Singh