Speaking at a media doorstop at Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre, Dr Chee Soon Juan conceded that Dr Tan Cheng Bock was best suited to unify the opposition. Dr Chee is the secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and on Aug 2, he said that his party will contest in five constituencies it competed in at the last General Election – two Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) – Holland-Bukit Timah and Marsiling-Yew Tee – and the single-seat wards of Bukit Batok, Yuhua and Bukit Panjang.
When reporters asked him at the media pit stop whether his announcement meant that he will not no longer cooperate with other opposition parties, Dr Chee said:
“No, and that is the short answer. This is the situation that we are faced with. As long as the opposition remain disparate, remains as a motley bunch, we are not going to win the confidence of the voters. We have said this repeatedly. And last year, we got a hold of all the opposition parties together. We got Dr Tan in. And SDP stands with them, to work with them. All the opposition parties.
We have differences – obviously. But those differences are miniscule when you compare the common stand, the common goal we must have – in providing Singaporeans, the voters an alternative that they can have confidence in. And so, we continue to work towards this goal of (opposition unity) and we repeat our call now. To have more of the opposition parties to come together, and make sure that we have a common platform that we can offer Singaporeans – and let them say “yes, we are confident in this alternative. (This is) something we can vote for”.
So we will definitely be working with Dr Tan’s party, hopefully WP and other parties as well. We hope to bring in everybody together so that we can present a more confident message.”
When the journalists pressed Dr Chee to answer the question of if he thought that Dr Tan should be the main leader of the opposition parties, Dr Chee conceded that it should be led by Dr Tan.
Dr Chee said:
“What we said last year hasn’t changed. We will continue to ask him (Dr Tan Cheng Bock) to make sure that discussions are facilitated, to make sure that we iron out all the differences. Going into the GE, we come out looking coordinated – looking that the right hand knows what the left hand in doing. So, we are going to work in this process, and I am just hopeful.”
In July last year, at a closed door working luncheon among opposition party members, the SDP invited Dr Tan to help lead the effort in building coalition opposition parties. SDP urged Dr Tan to take the lead so as to present a unified front at the next General Election. SDP said that all the opposition parties present at the meeting welcomed the move.
Dr Tan, a 5-term former People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament, responded to the invitation by the opposition party leaders saying he is open to leading an alliance against his former party which has governed the country since independence.
Dr Tan responded to the call of the opposition party leaders asking him to lead them saying, “If you want me to lead, then we must think of (the) country first. If we go in, we must go in as a team.” -/TISG
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