The Singapore People’s Party (SPP) has declined to join a proposed coalition of opposition parties, that includes the Reform Party (RP), Singapore First party (SingFirst), People’s Power Party (PPP) and the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), despite the fact that it was a founding member of the only political alliance to have contested elections in Singapore’s history.
The RP, PPP, DPP and SingFirst revealed plans to register a political alliance ahead of the next General Election, this week. The parties are reportedly set to register their alliance by the end of January.
A member of the DPP told the national broadsheet that the SPP was one of the parties that was approached before plans to form a coalition came to light. SPP’s newly-minted assistant secretary-general Ariffin Sha, however, told the publication that the party leadership was “unanimous in its decision to decline the proposal to join the alliance”.
The SPP underwent a change in leadership late last year. 84-year-old veteran politician Chiam See Tong – a longtime opposition parliamentarian – decided not to contest the party’s latest internal election for the first time in 23 years, effectively bringing his 40-year political career to an end.
Under Mr Chiam, the SPP had helped establish the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) – the only opposition coalition that has contested elections in Singapore.
Mr Chiam established the SDA in 2001 to provide a common grouping under which different opposition parties could stand as a political coalition in elections against the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
The alliance was initially a four-party coalition, which consisted of the SPP, the National Solidarity Party (NSP), the Singapore Justice Party (SJP) and the Singapore Malay National Organization (PKMS).
Mr Chiam, who was the chairman of the SDA until 2011, was succeeded by SJP leader Desmond Lim, an opposition politician who was known for helping Mr Chiam manage his Potong Pasir town council, in 2011. The SPP left the SDA that same year.
Nearly a decade since the SPP left the SDA, the party’s new leadership appears firmly opposed to joining another opposition coalition.
Mr Chiam’s successor, new SPP secretary-general Steve Chia, seems to be wary of working with other opposition groups. In his second press statement since he was elected party leader, Mr Chia said: “While we value opposition unity, we also understand that the opposition can be united only if we share similar values, practices and have the same vision for Singapore.” /TISG