By: Ravi Philemon
At the time of the Bukit Batok by-election I openly endorsed Dr Chee Soon Juan. That was on 20 Apr (link: https://www.facebook.com/PhilemonRavi/posts/794473920652428).
2 days later, on 22 Apr, Mrs Lina Chiam said that she was not endorsing anyone for the contest in Bukit Batok (link: https://www.facebook.com/lina.chiam.3/posts/1049493758456730).
On 23 Apr, SDP released a statement saying that they were not seeking the Chiams endorsement (link: http://theindependent.sg/chee-not-seeking-chiams-endorsement-sdp-article-paints-chiam-unflatteringly).
On 25 Apr, I got a call from a member of SDP’s Bukit Batok by-election campaign thanking me for the endorsement. He further told me that he wanted to send me some evidence of what had happened between Chee and Mr Chiam See Tong in the 1990s.
The email he sent contained no information that I was not previously aware of. In 2010, the SDP had made similar claims (link: http://yoursdp.org/publ/the_truth_about/chiam_39_s_exit_from_the_sdp/part_1_the_truth_about_chiam_see_tong_39_s_departure/11-1-0-16), and has continued to assert these claims several times thereafter.
On 29 Apr, SDP openly thanked me for my endorsement, for which I appreciated them (link: https://www.facebook.com/PhilemonRavi/posts/799380283495125). SDP’s ‘thank you’ note also included the names of Chen Show Mao and Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss (among others).
I am now convinced that SDP invoked Mr Chiam’s party candidates from GE 2015, Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss and I, because they soon realised that Mr Chiam’s endorsement mattered. And they were sending out a message to the voters that despite the non-endorsement of the Chiams, his party members had come out to openly support him.
And I am beginning to suspect now that Chee blames Chiam, at least partially, for his loss at the by-election.
Why have I come to such conclusions?
SDP held a press conference on 14 May to ‘clear the air’ about why Chiam was expelled from the party. “Chiam resigned,” the proof they put forth claimed. But is that the entire truth?
Yes, Chiam resigned – but no, he did not resign from SDP – he resigned from his position as the secretary-general of SDP. He did not give up his party membership.
Resignation from a position of leadership is not the same as resignation from an organisation. I feel that SDP and Chee had only misled their supporters by not clearly stating this upfront.
SDP further put up the information shared at the press conference in their Facebook.
Commenting on why he held the press release Chee said: “The PAP has been using the issue of Mr Chiam See Tong’s departure from SDP, in Mr Goh Chok Tong’s own words, to “destroy” Dr Chee. It happened, most recently, in GE2015 and again in BE2016. Today, this has got to stop. The PAP must not be allowed to continue with its propaganda.”
But if you look at SDP’s Facebook post on the topic, one has to suspect if the real reason for their sharing is not so much to get the PAP to stop their propaganda, but to get its supporters and sympathisers to chide Chiam, and perhaps even cast aspersions on him. Just see some of the comments on the post (link: https://www.facebook.com/yoursdp/posts/10154468643933455).
Since Saturday, SDP has made four posts on the topic in its Facebook. Chee has made 6 such posts in his own Facebook. Several posts highlighted what ex-premiere Goh Chok Tong said about Chiam and Chee.
“Mr Chiam, he (Goh Chok Tong) added, was no threat but had, in fact, been “good” for the PAP as “without him, it would have been more difficult to destroy (Singapore Democratic Party chief) Chee Soon Juan”.”
SDP’s postings further quoted trial judge Warren Khoo’s judgment to bolster their case, that there was no bad faith or malice in the SDP’s actions. In his judgment Khoo said: “It may be fairly said that he (Mr Chiam See Tong) brought the disciplinary proceedings and the court action on himself.”
I am rather surprised that SDP has invoked Goh, a PAP leader, to reinforce their argument, while the political party had previously accused the Government of telling outright lies (link: http://yoursdp.org/news/point_by_point_rebuttal_to_ministry_of_home_affairs_statement/2006-12-21-4604).
Considering that SDP leaders had previously been convicted for referring to the judicial system here as ‘kangaroo court’ (link: http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20081128-104030.html), I am quite shocked that they had conjured-up a Court verdict to strengthen their argument.
It is not only troubling, but also hypocritical for SDP to summon people from the establishment to support their case when it is convenient to them, when they had paid scant regard to their views when it did not.
I would have not said much on the topic publicly if Chee had not posted the following in his Facebook a few hours ago.
Rehashing what Chiam said in 1995 only shows that Chee was insincere in entering into reconciliation talks with the Chiams in 2011.
Any wonder then why it failed?