Unlike other political parties in Singapore that have recently undergone leadership renewal, the leadership at the helm of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) remained largely unchanged after the party’s latest Central Executive Committee (CEC) election.
Dr Paul Tambyah and Dr Chee Soon Juan were re-elected as SDP chairman and secretary-general respectively at the party’s 19th Ordinary Party Conference on 31 Oct. Christopher Ang, Damanhuri Abas, Jufri Salim, Khung Wai Yeen, Bryan Lim, Gerald Sng, John Tan, Matthew Tan, Wong Souk Yee, and Francis Yong were also elected into the CEC.
Dr Chee said that “The unchanged line-up reflects the confidence party cadres have of the effectiveness of the current leadership.” He added: “It puts the SDP in a strong position to conduct a first-rate campaign in the coming general election.”
Dr Tambyah also touched on the looming election and asked members to work to “get our message across to the people of Singapore so that they know more about the SDP, who we are, what we stand for and why we should be in parliament to advocate for a more just and democratic Singapore.”
He added: “We are not afraid of challenges or difficult tasks. The difficult in fact is what the SDP specialises in.”
Highlighting the series of activities the SDP has been conducting in anticipation of the upcoming election, Dr Chee said that these efforts have caused increased public support for the party and that more members have joined the party in recent months.
Asserting that the SDP must be the breeding as well as training grounds for such young leaders, Dr Chee said: “We must provide the opportunity for the younger generation to rise and eventually assume leadership roles within the Party and, in time to come, the country.”
The party chief also urged those who wish to join the party not to do so for self-serving and opportunistic ends and attributed the SDP’s growth to members who genuinely subscribe to the party’s beliefs of “putting people before profit, rights before riches, and wisdom before wealth.”
Calling on members to work together to achieve the party’s vision, Dr Chee said: “You will succeed not because of your individual talent but because of the collective grit, the pa see buay zhao spirit of all in the Party.”
Leadership at the SDP remains the same as other parties continue initiating leadership renewal. The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is transitioning from the current cohort of leaders to the fourth generation of leaders and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat is expected to take over from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sometime after the next election.
Last year, the Workers’ Party – the only opposition party that is currently in Parliament – also initiated leadership renewal. Mr Low Thia Khiang did not contest the WP’s internal election in 2018, after being at its helm for 17 years, and Pritam Singh eventually succeeded Mr Low as secretary-general.
More recently, the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) injected fresh blood into its CEC. Like Mr Low, veteran opposition politician Mr Chiam See Tong decided not to contest his party’s latest internal election for the first time in 23 years, effectively bringing his 40-year political career to an end. Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Steve Chia was subsequently elected party chief.