The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) held a Meet-the-Press session on Wednesday (June 24). During which, SDP Chairman Dr Paul Tambyah and SDP Secretary-General Dr Chee Soon Juan, took questions from members of the press.
Prior to this, SDP indicated that they are eyeing three SMCs and two GRCs in the upcoming elections, with Dr Chee eyeing the Bukit Batok SMC.
When asked about what he has to say to voters who are afraid to “rock the boat”, or in other words, vote for the opposition, Dr Chee had one thing to say. “Your boat is sinking.” Going with the analogy of a sinking boat, Dr Chee stressed that if Singaporeans do not start paddling and stay still, the boat will sink.
The boat was sinking even before the pandemic, Dr Chee says. “We’ve got to paddle. Very hard right now to make sure that we get to shore.” He adds that SDP has got a rope and is casting it out to land to pull everyone onto shore.
Dr Chee and Dr Tambyah both agreed that the elections being held in the middle of Covid-19 has made SDP’s campaigning difficult. Furthermore, Dr Chee mentioned that the measures put in place make it extremely inconvenient to reach out to voters.
Addressing the rejection of his application for the “Walk-the-Talk” fundraiser which would have had him walking across Singapore on foot on his own, Dr Chee said that the rejection put a huge damper on the fundraising efforts of the party. “That was the exercise that was going to drive our fundraising”, he said ruefully.
Dr Chee also brought up the difficulties that SDP was facing, now that mass rallies have been banned. He explained that rallies were the campaign’s go-to for donations as SDP merchandise could be sold, and members of the party could ask the public for donations physically.
Additionally, Dr Chee commented that the People’s Action Party (PAP) never seems to ask for donations, and added that “they (the PAP) put up an ad on youtube, on facebook, and its [under] gov.sg”. He clarified that fundraising and donations were extremely vital especially now that SDP is only able to ask for most of the donations online and that funds are needed to run an effective campaign.
He took the chance to appeal to supporters watching via Facebook Live, saying “please, we need all the funds that we can get to make sure that we run an effective campaign”.
Regarding the online presence of SDP, Dr Chee and Dr Tambyah agree that although their online audience is not small, mainstream media sees more than one million viewers every night. In comparison, for the SDP, even their video with the highest viewer count only has slightly more than 700,000 views.
“Night after night, month after month, year after year, for the last more than half a century — that does something to the mindset of the Singaporeans” he said, referring to ministers’ access to mainstream media as a platform. Thus Dr Chee concedes that it will be an “uphill struggle” for campaigning to be done online, although he adds that the party will use online platforms to the best of their ability.