Goh Meng Seng: Tan Cheng Bock led opposition coalition will be an effort to displace PAP rule

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The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said on Saturday announced that some opposition parties have decided to co-operate in order to present a unified front at the next elections, and that they have asked Dr Tan to lead them. The secretary-general of the People’s Power Party (PPP), Mr Goh Meng Seng, today spoke exclusively to The Independent Singapore on the topic.

The following are Mr Goh’s responses:

The Independent Singapore (TISG): Why do you think an opposition unity is important for the coming election?

Goh Meng Seng (GMS): From my perspective, it is not merely a show of opposition Unity. It is a show of determination by all parties involved to displace PAP RULE.

TISG: Is a coalition the best way to display opposition unity? Why can’t the smaller opposition parties close down their parties and join a party with a bigger brand like SDP and ask Dr Tan to lead them?

GMS: Each party has their own characteristics, history and culture. It is impractical to close down all but one and merge because it will take a long time for integration for normal members. Even if we merge into a bigger entity, it would still be facing problems of factions which will be a greater distraction. People who have not involved in partisan politics before will tend to have a simplistic view on merger. Merger will drain even more energy than building a coalition.

TISG: What do you think of Dr Tan’s comments that some opposition leaders “need to stand down and serve from the backroom”? Who do you think Dr Tan was speaking of? Would you consider “standing down” if Dr Tan asks you to do so?

GMS: I would be glad to stand down if the movement doesn’t need my service or I feel that I could no longer serve the cause. Everyone will have to step down one day, either now or later. No one is indispensable.

TISG: There has been rumours circulating that some founding members of your party have now defected to the party Lim Tean is trying to form. Is this true? Will such defections have any bearings on the proposed coalition?

GMS: If my members join PAP, then I would consider that as real DEFECTION! But if they are moving on to help another party like Lim Tean, then I consider that staying on the same course. I have absolutely no problem with that as I have also gone over to NSP to build up their party when they needed my help.

TISG: Has your party considered an alliance with other parties outside of the proposal by SDP? What was the outcome (if any) of such discussions? Why were such discussions successful or unsuccessful?

GMS: I am a proponent of an all inclusive united movement to save the country from bad PAP policies. And that includes WP as well. While I have spoken and explore with various parties about alliance, I am not interested in divisive maneuvers. At this moment, my party is very happy with the current progress.

TISG: Why does the opposition look to a former PAP man to lead them?

GMS: It is not party affiliation which I care or put labels or lines across. As long as the individual is sincere in serving the country and see the same point as I do, that PAP’s rule is getting terribly worse than before and needs to be displaced, I would regard him as someone on the same course as me.

TISG: Any other things you want to add?

GMS: Maybe I should put it simply, try not to see things in partisan politics but as a movement against PAP rule then you would realize that such questions are not really relevant.