Vincent Wijeysingha

Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha (born 2 May 1970) is an academic, civil activist and politician from Singapore. He was a member of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) 2010 to 2013. He served as the party's Treasurer and stood as a parliamentary candidate for the party 2011 general election. He was Singapore's first openly gay politician.[1]

Vincent Wijeysingha
Vincent Wijeysingha at Greenridge Secondary School, Singapore - 20110427.jpg
Dr Wijeysingha waving to supporters at Greenridge Secondary School, the nomination centre for Holland–Bukit Timah GRC during the 2011 general election, on 27 April 2011
Born (1970-05-02) 2 May 1970 (age 49)
NationalitySingaporean
CitizenshipSingaporean
EducationVictoria School
University of Lincoln
University of Sheffield
Occupationsocial worker, lecturer
Known forfirst gay Singapore politician
Home townSingapore
Political partySingapore Democratic Party (2010–2013)
MovementLGBT
Parents

Early life and education

Dr Vincent Wijeysingha was born in 2 May 1970. His father is the educator Eugene Wijeysingha, who is a former principal of Temasek Junior College (1980-1985) and Raffles Institution (1986-1994).[2][3]

Dr Wijeysingha studied at Victoria School in Singapore, before heading to the United Kingdom where he studied at the University of Lincoln and earned a doctorate in Social Policy at the University of Sheffield. He lived in England for almost 16 years before moving back to Singapore.

Dr Wijeysingha has served as the Executive Director of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a non-government organisation advocating the rights of low-waged migrant workers. He also publishes scholarly papers on social work[4] and has worked as a lecturer in social work at SIM University.

Political career

Dr Wijeysingha has stated that he joined the SDP because he realised he had a responsibility as a Singaporean to work for change, saying that: "I cannot look the other way as more and more people experience the adverse effects of current PAP policies."[5]

Prior to the 2011 general election, Channel NewsAsia invited the main political parties in Singapore to record an hour-long televised pre-election forum (the first forum of this nature in Singapore since the 1988 general election). The programme, in English entitled, A political forum on Singapore's future, brought together the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and four opposition parties to discuss long and short-term challenges for the country. Dr Wijeysingha represented the SDP in the discussion.[6]

Just days before Nomination Day on 27 April 2011, the PAP team in the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) led by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, told the press that the SDP was "suppressing" a video which would "raise some awkward questions" about the party's agenda. Dr Wijeysingha's response was that he was unsure about which video Dr Balakrishnan was referring to and that the SDP was "an open party".[7]

The issue of the video was clarified on 25 April 2011, two days before Nomination Day, with both the PAP and the SDP issuing statements about the issue.[8] The New Paper, ran a cover story on 26 April 2011, just a day before Nomination Day, with the heading 'Is Singapore ready for a gay MP?' (in reference to Dr Wijeysingha and comments he had made on the video, which was recorded at a forum discussing gay rights in Singapore).[9][10]

At the general election, the SDP team led by Dr Vincent Wijeysingha polled 39.92% of the valid votes cast in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, losing to the PAP team which polled 60.08%.[11]

In June 2013, Wijeysingha became the first Singaporean politician to openly declare that he was gay in a public forum when he made a post on Facebook ahead of the annual Pink Dot SG event in which he stated "yes, I am gay", and "no, I don't have a gay agenda".[12]

Resignation from politics

In August 2013, Wijeysingha announced that he was resigning from the SDP, stating that he wished to focus his efforts on pursuing his work in civil society.[13]

References

  1. ^ Singapore’s first gay politician quits to focus on rights, South China Morning Post, 30 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Singapore Boxing Day wedding". Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Why I joined the opposition: Dr Wijeysingha". Yahoo! News Singapore. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  4. ^ "I've never left Singapore – SDP's Dr Vincent Wijeysingha". The Online Citizen. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  5. ^ "Democrats unveil first six candidates". Singapore Democratic Party. April 21, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  6. ^ "MediaCorp presents a political forum on Singapore's future". MediaCorp. Archived from the original on April 6, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  7. ^ What video? SDP asks Vivian What video? SDP asks Vivian. Straits Times. Retrieved 16 May 2011
  8. ^ http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1125274/1/.html
  9. ^ "Is Singapore ready for a gay MP?". Archived from the original on 28 April 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Page not found". TODAYonline. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  11. ^ ELD. "Elections Department Singapore (ELD)". www.elections.gov.sg. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  12. ^ Shah Salimat (2013-06-29). "Politician Vincent Wijeysingha comes out as gay man on Facebook". Yahoo! News Singapore.
  13. ^ Vincent Wijeysingha resigns from Singapore Democratic Party, channelnewsasia.com, 28 August 2013.