SINGAPORE: Less than a week after four opposition parties announced a coalition by the name of the People’s Alliance, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief sparked rumours that voters may see a second alliance at the polls, possibly between the SDP and the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).
Revealing that PSP chairman Tan Cheng Bock visited his Orange & Teal café with friends earlier this week, Dr Chee said in what appeared to be a pointed Facebook post yesterday (6 June): “They had set lunches of Baby-Back Ribs and Barramundi Fry with roasted pumpkin soup and ice lemon tea. The dessert was Okinawa Milk Tea cake and cappuccino.
“Then, a passer-by walked in and paid the bill. “I like seeing you guys together,” she said, “I support.” Thank you, it was a very sweet gesture.”
He added, “Eat up, Doc, we need to stay fit for the battle ahead – yes, we talked about that too. Food, music and politics. Doesn’t get any better than that.”
Dr Chee and Dr Tan share a warm personal relationship and have had talks about working together in politics.
In July 2018, the SDP invited Dr Tan to a closed-door working luncheon among opposition party members and asked him to help lead the effort to build a coalition of opposition parties. SDP urged Dr Tan to take the lead and said all the opposition parties 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.
The coalition never took form. Dr Tan eventually decided to form his own political party instead in March 2019.
Explaining that he chose to form his own party instead of joining an established opposition banner, leading an opposition coalition, or running as an independent since he felt that this was the “right” route for him, Dr Tan said that he looks forward to “working with others in the opposition who are passionate about putting country first – before either party or self.”
He added, at the time: “At 78 years, I have a short window that I intend to use (sic) mentoring and developing future Parliamentarians who will work for the good of our nation.”
In August 2019, Dr Chee reiterated his interest in collaboration as he conceded that Dr Tan Cheng Bock was best suited to unify the opposition. He said: “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.”
He added: “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.”
“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 is doing. So, we are going to work in this process, and I am just hopeful.”
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