GE2020: Upcoming polls a ‘high stakes’ one, last-minute switches part of SDP’s strategy, says Chee Soon Juan
SINGAPORE — The upcoming General Election (GE) is one with “high stakes”, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan said, appealing for voters to get behind the opposition. He also criticised the fourth-generation leaders of the People’s Action Party for their performance in government.
- SDP chief Chee criticises PAP's 4G leaders for their performance in government
- He claims that his opponent, PAP’s Murali Pillai, has neglected Bukit Batok residents
- SDP makes last-minute changes in candidate line-up on Nomination Day
SINGAPORE — The upcoming General Election (GE) is a “high stakes” one, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan said, appealing for voters to get behind the opposition.
He also criticised the fourth-generation leaders of the People’s Action Party for their performance in government.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday (June 30) at Nan Hua High School, the nomination centre for Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency (SMC), Dr Chee said that the fourth-generation PAP leaders “have not been delivering what they promised” even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Singapore.
“We are seeing productivity go down, economic growth go down, unemployment go up and our youth are facing greater and greater difficulty in finding meaningful employment. People are just scrounging around and simply getting by,” he said.
“This is not what was (hoped for) despite what PAP told the voters and we will show you (during our campaign) how they were performing and how looking ahead… we are going to be in a load of trouble (without an opposition).”
Dr Chee, who will be contesting for the single seat at Bukit Batok constituency for the July 10 polls, also slammed his opponent, the incumbent PAP candidate Murali Pillai, for “taking his eye off the ball when it comes to looking after the estate and the resident’s welfare”.
The pair are set for a rematch as they had both also contested in the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election, where Mr Murali had won the seat with 61.23 per cent of the vote.
Dr Chee said: “I just cannot see how someone can go to the office (from) nine to five… and then come out on the weekends to do a bit of PR (public relations) work. That doesn’t cut it.”
He added that in the coming days, he will be laying out SDP’s plan for the residents in the area to show how the party plans to “take the constituency forward”.
At a separate media interview on Tuesday, Mr Murali told reporters that he will be addressing some of the criticisms that Dr Chee has made against him.
“It is not over today. There are nine days to run including today (and) I will deal with these issues in due course,” he said, adding that what he first wanted to address are the "real plans" he has to help less fortunate families and to strengthen social welfare projects in Bukit Batok.
"It’s not one person. It’s a group of community leaders, residents all working together, helping one another so we can lift those who are more impacted and we can emerge from this storm together. That’s the focus," Mr Murali said.
SDP sprung a few surprises on Nomination Day when its candidates who were previously seen walking the ground in some constituencies were revealed to be contesting in others.
For instance, SDP chairperson Paul Tambyah will be contesting in Bukit Panjang SMC instead of Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC), where he was fielded in the 2011 GE and where he has been spotted reaching out to residents recently.
Another surprise was Mr Tan Jee Say’s return to SDP after disbanding his Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party.
He had announced on Monday that he had applied to rejoin the SDP, but the party did not confirm whether Mr Tan was accepted.
Mr Tan will be contesting in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC as an SDP candidate. He had contested in the same area with the SDP before in 2011.
Regarding the eleventh-hour changes, Dr Chee said that this was done to maximise the party’s chances of electing its candidates into Parliament.
On whether the changes will undo some of the ground work that SDP has done in the last few months leading up to the GE, Dr Chee said that there would be no impact because the various candidates have walked the ground in various constituencies — not just the ones they were planning to field candidates.
He added that this has always been part of SDP’s strategy because the party would not have known whether some of the electoral boundaries would be redrawn for the constituencies it was eyeing.
Echoing Dr Chee, Dr Tambyah said during a media interview on Tuesday that the decision to field him at Bukit Panjang SMC “was not a last-minute decision” and the party had been considering it for a period of time.
SDP also wanted to ensure that it increased its chances to elect someone into Parliament and its members agreed to move him to Bukit Panjang.
Dr Tambyah noted that as Bukit Panjang and Holland-Bukit Timah are geographically close and the electoral boundaries are decided “in an arbitrary manner”, the work he has done to reach out to residents in the last five years since the last GE would not be for naught.
On whether he believes he has a higher chance of winning a seat for the party now that he is contesting there, Dr Tambyah said that he does not think any opposition candidate has a chance of being elected “with the way the playing field has been tilted (towards PAP)”.
“So if we win a seat (or) if we win 11 seats, it will be a real tribute to the people of Singapore. (It would be them) standing up to the bullying of PAP and saying ‘enough is enough’,” he said.
“We do not want an opposition wipe-out. We want to get voices in Parliament to ask the questions that need to be asked for the future of Singapore.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JANICE LIM AND JUSTIN ONG