The Singapore Democratic Party held a working lunch on Saturday afternoon, where several opposition parties came together to explore the possibility of an alliance, a coalition.
There was also a push for former presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock to spearhead efforts toward building a coalition.
The Independent reached out to Benjamin Pwee, Secretary-General of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and one of the attendees of SDP’s luncheon, and asked him the following questions:
1. We understand that the opposition parties have been talking about such a coalition for some time now. How confident are you that you’ll be able to bring this diverse group together?
I am not the one bringing this diverse group together. SDP is the one attempting to do this, and we at DPP are participating. I am confident only if a heavyweight not from any of the current opposition parties, is the rallying figure.
2. What took you so long to come together?
The usual : strong personalities and egos in each political parties, emotional and historical baggage amongst veteran opposition politicians cos of previous relationships with each other, differences in political purpose and positions.
3. What are the benefits for the coalition partner?
If anything else, such a coalition would “clean-up” the current “pasar malam” opposition political scene, to possibly WP, an SDP-facilitated coalition, and possibly SPP (if SPP doesn’t join the coalition).
Such a coalition would also help each party and leader(s) attempt to put aside their clashing egos and historical baggage with each other
4. The Workers’ Party and Singapore People’s Party did not attend the lunch on Saturday? Is there still a spot at the table for them?
We at DPP certainly welcome them to the table, but as this coalition is being facilitated by SDP, the ball is in SDP’s court. Again, past histories and baggage need to be buried if WP, SPP and SDP were to come together in a coalition.
5. What is your response to Derek Da Cunha’s statement that this is just a coalition of 3rd, 4th and 5th rated parties?
Simple. As long as quality people remain as armchair critics, and sit by the side and throw stones, and don’t themselves take the step forward like others who do, then our country would be all the poorer.
The PH victory, Brexit, Trump victory, all defied academics’ analysis anchored on history. As long as Derek relies only on his academic research of history, he will not be able to see or embrace what could happen, by freak election results or otherwise.
6. What are your plans for the next general elections?
Two simple goals : continue to encourage and challenge good quality people to step forward, and attempt to collaborate and partner with other parties for the same cause.