Alliance deal off: PPP, RP, SingFirst and DPP to link up informally instead, says Goh Meng Seng
SINGAPORE — The prospects of four small opposition parties forming an opposition bloc with the Singapore Democratic Alliance are dead in the water. This was confirmed on Monday (June 22) by the heads of the People's Power Party (PPP), Reform Party (RP), Singaporeans First (SingFirst) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
- The five-party alliance among People’s Power Party, Singaporeans First, Democratic Progressive Party, Reform Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance has been scuppered
- People’s Power Party’s chief Goh Meng Seng still believes in the importance of an alliance; he will work to form a new one after the election
- If elected, Mr Goh said that he would robustly debate policies in Parliament
SINGAPORE — The prospects of four small opposition parties forming an opposition bloc with the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) are dead in the water.
Instead, PPP, RP, SingFirst and DPP will be part of an informal alliance with one another, PPP’s secretary-general Goh Meng Seng said.
RP’s chairman, Mr Andy Zhu, told TODAY that the alliance with SDA was just “not working out”.
He added that SDA had chosen to announce through national daily The Straits Times that it would be putting on hold membership applications indefinitely, rather than telling the rest of the parties “straight in the face”.
While the details of the informal arrangement among RP, PPP, SingFirst and DPP are still being ironed out, Mr Zhu said that they may help one another in terms of human resources and logistics.
SingFirst’s secretary-general Tan Jee Say said that although no formal alliance has been registered, they are in talks so that they will not be “competing against each other” in the same constituencies.
DPP’s secretary-general Mohamad Hamim Aliyas similarly said that the alliance with SDA was a “no-go”.
Mr Hamim was present alongside Mr Goh and PPP chairman Syafarin Sarif when they arrived at the Mayflower Market and Food Centre in Ang Mo Kio on Monday morning to walk the ground.
Mr Goh, who did not speak to members of the public while reporters were present, said that he wanted to see what the situation on the ground was after Singapore entered its second phase of reopening its economy.
Mr Hamim said he was there to “show his support” for Mr Goh, even though Mr Goh would not confirm if he would be contesting within the Kebun Baru Single Member Constituency (SMC).
Kebun Baru in Ang Mo Kio is a new SMC carved out of the Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency (GRC) for the next General Election (GE), which must be held by April 2021.
In April this year, Mr Hamim told news network CNA that Kebun Baru would be one of the constituencies that DPP is looking to contest for a seat, alongside Marymount SMC and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
Mr Hamim told TODAY on Monday that the informal alliance arrangement means that if PPP is not interested in Kebun Baru, his party will resume its plans to contest there.
Last week, both RP and the Progress Singapore Party had expressed their interest to contest in Kebun Baru, which was returned to its SMC status after nearly three decades. It was part of Nee Soon GRC until March when electoral boundaries were redrawn for the coming GE.
Kebun Baru SMC has traditionally been a PAP stronghold where two in five residents are senior citizens from the Pioneer and Merdeka Generations, The Straits Times reported.
Mr Goh of PPP said that if he were to contest in Kebun Baru, he would coordinate with RP so that they would not clash with each other. This was confirmed by Mr Zhu.
In January, media reports stated that SingFirst, DPP, PPP and RP were intending to register a new alliance for the coming GE.
In April, however, the four parties chose to apply to join SDA, Singapore's only registered political alliance.
Mr Goh clarified on Monday that they did not formally apply to join SDA, but rather had just “shown their interest”.
He was disappointed that the alliance with SDA fell through, adding that even if SDA reconsidered its decision now, it is “too late, as preparation needs time”.
Mr Goh believes that an alliance is still the way forward for Singapore’s opposition parties. They could consolidate their human resources and “put their brains together” to work on policies for the betterment of Singapore, he said.
“An alliance is not just a marriage of convenience. I see strength in every other political player, especially their leaders.”
He intends to work towards forming a “real alliance” once the upcoming GE is over — whether he gets elected or not.
“I may not run in the election (after this upcoming one), but I still want to do my part... to form this alliance,” he said.
MORE ROBUST DEBATES IN PARLIAMENT
Mr Goh, a 50-year-old businessman, has been part of Singapore’s political landscape for around 20 years and used to be a member of the Workers’ Party and the National Solidarity Party.
The slogan for PPP this GE is “A Strong Parliament” and Mr Goh said that if he does get elected, he will robustly debate policies so that they do not get “rubber-stamped” without weighing the pros and the cons.
Mr Goh said that generally speaking, the various policies that the Government has made are “not wrong”, but rather they lack a “balanced view” when they are presented in Parliament.
Thus, the public will not know what the potential downsides of such policies are, he said.
Citing Hong Kong as an example, he said that lawmakers in the semi-autonomous territory can spend a long time debating the merits of a certain policy or a lack thereof.
Mr Goh has been an outspoken critic of several issues, including what he perceives as the Government’s slow response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the start of the outbreak early this year, Mr Goh had encouraged Singaporeans in several Facebook posts to wear a mask, even though the Government had initially said it was not mandatory.
Among his other suggestions was one made back in January, when he wrote about the need for safe distancing and the cancellation of events that drew large crowds in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Goh said that if such suggestions had been heeded earlier, the number of infections could have been lower.
“Because I’m not in Parliament... these messages are not being transmitted.” If these were brought up, there could have been a more robust debate and a rethinking of strategy, he said.