SINGAPORE: A total of 11 opposition parties were hosted at a luncheon by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leaders Dr Chee Soon Juan (secretary-general) and Prof Paul Tambyah (chairman) at their new headquarters over the weekend as they discussed various issues and exchanged ideas ahead of the upcoming General Election which is due by Nov 2025.

Among those present at the session are Dennis Tan, Workers’ Party (WP) member of parliament for Hougang SMC, Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), along with their party’s chairman Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

In his welcome remarks, SDP’s chairman, Prof Tambyah noted the significance of denying the ruling People’s Action Party a two-thirds majority to prevent changes being made to the Constitution at will. This was echoed earlier by various party leaders during lunch as they voiced the need for the opposition to win more seats at the next election.

“We have different approaches and ideas but all want a better Singapore. Starting with denying the ruling party a two thirds majority in the next GE,” posted Prof Tambyah on his Facebook page.

At the 2020 election, the ruling People’s Action Party won 83 parliamentary seats, and WP won 10 seats; successfully retaining Hougang SMC, and Aljunied GRC (five seats), and capturing the newly-created Sengkang GRC (four seats). Following the election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that WP’s secretary-general, Pritam Singh, would be formally designated as the Leader of the Opposition and that the government would provide him with the appropriate staff and resources to enable him to carry out his duties.

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Photo credit: Singapore Democratic Party

The recent dialogue among the 12 parties facilitated by the SDP would be seen as a positive development by their supporters, as the opposition party leaders or representatives usually come together near the election period to discuss the allocation of seats to avoid any possibility of a three-corner contest.

“The SDP will continue to facilitate meaningful dialogue and cooperation among opposition parties in Singapore,” shared Dr Chee with the Independent Singapore.

“It was a rare but good occasion to get all the parties together and to look ahead and work for a better Singapore. We held a discussion after lunch which was meaningful and constructive and, judging by the tenor of the conversation, everyone seems hopeful for the next GE,” added SDP’s secretary-general.

At the official opening of their new office on Nov 11, Dr Chee announced that he is keen to organise a ‘national convention of politics’, which he hopes will interest and engage various groups in national, as well as current affairs and the electoral process in Singapore. Although the national convention of politics was not a topic of discussion during the dialogue session, the party is leaving the door open to any groups or parties willing to be part of the initiative.

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“We would not rule out the possibility of the initiative being the outcome of a collaborative effort among interested parties, but nothing has been set in stone just yet. Now that we have a larger space in which to host events, workshops, meetings, and training sessions, we’re looking forward to organising more activities with the aim of fostering civic engagement and political awareness for the benefit of our fellow Singaporeans,” explained SDP spokesperson, Min-Cheong Subramaniam.

Other opposition leaders in attendance at the session include those from the non-formal four-parties alliance ‘The Coalition’, which includes component parties Red Dot United, Singapore People’s Alliance (SPP), National Solidarity Party (NSP) and the Singapore United Party. In October, the four parties established a non-formal partnership formalised through a signed memorandum of understanding. This loose political alliance allows the four parties to retain their individual political identities and branding while collaborating on shared resources and developing a joint manifesto.

“My comrades at Red Dot United and I congratulated the Singapore Democratic Party on the opening of their new office and for hosting us at their open house last Saturday. I was happy to see representatives from almost all opposition parties at the event. This itself shows our shared commitment to championing the cause of Singapore and Singaporeans – a common purpose for a better tomorrow,” said RDU’s secretary-general Ravi Philemon.

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Party leaders from the People’s Alliance for Reform were also present at the luncheon, such as Lim Tean (Peoples Voice), Goh Meng Seng (People’s Power Party), Mahaboob Baatsha (Reform Party), and Hamim Aliyas (Democratic Progressive Party) along with several other party members. The People’s Alliance for Reform recently received an in-principle approval from the Registry of Societies to register their formal political alliance.

Lastly, the Malay-based PKMS party was represented by Hairullah Ahmad and Kuswadi Atnawi. They are part of the two-party Singapore Democratic Alliance, with Singapore Justice Party (SJP) the only other member in the alliance. NSP and SPP used to be part of this alliance, but they left prior to the 2011 General Election. Desmond Lim from SJP was invited but he was not able to attend.

Below are the names of the opposition parties at the luncheon/dialogue session hosted by the Singapore Democratic Party.

  1. Singapore Democratic Party
  2. Workers’ Party
  3. Progress Singapore Party

The Coalition

  1. Red Dot United
  2. Singapore People’s Party
  3. National Solidarity Party
  4. Singapore United Party

People’s Alliance for Reform

  1. Peoples Voice
  2. People’s Power Party
  3. Reform Party
  4. Democratic Progressive Party

Singapore Democratic Alliance

  1. PKMS (Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura)