In their latest attempt to clarify the misunderstanding between Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan and its founder Chiam See Tong, the political party’s assistant secretary-general John Tan accused Mr Chiam’s wife of spreading “complete and utter falsehood” with her comments to The Straits Times.
Mr Chiam left the political party he founded due to irreconcilable differences, to start Singapore People’s Party (SPP). His wife Mrs Lina Chiam is the Chairman of SPP. In the lead up to Bukit Batok by-election, Mrs Chiam took issue with SDP for including a picture of her husband and Dr Chee in the political party’s publication. She said that both husband and wife were not giving their endorsements to any candidate in the by-election.
The SDP responded and said that they were not looking for the Chiams endorsement to contest the election.
Then on the eve of Cooling-Off Day, Mrs Chiam spoke to an academic, Derek Da Cunha, to explain why relationship between the Chiams and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) broke down soon after their meetings in 2011.
Mrs Chiam told Mr Da Cunha that SDP’s claims, that in the 2011 meetings between the Chiams and SDP’s leadership, Dr Chee was willing to let Mr Chiam return to the SDP and head the party, were false.
She said: “Among their [SDP] proposals was that Mr Chiam should return to SDP by himself to take on a non-CEC position as Honorary Chairman, or a similar position that will acknowledge his role as the founder of SDP.”
SDP further laid down a “condition that the proposal had to be accepted within one week, among other terms, (therefore) it was a non-starter,” she added.
Mrs Chiam also took to Facebook to explain why she took issue with SDP circulating an older edition of their newsletter with Mr Chiam’s picture in it. She claimed that SDP had re-circulated the newsletter in the early days of their walkabouts in Bukit Batok, and so she objected to it.
Dr Wong Wee Nam, the man who had tried to bring the Chiams and SDP together, had written a note on behalf of SDP when the Chiams came out to say that they were not endorsing anyone for the Bukit Batok by-election. Dr Wong asked the Chiams why they were upset with an old edition of SDP’s newsletter, and also detailed what happened at the meetings between the Chiams and SDP.
Mrs Chiam told Dr Wong in her Facebook that he was “missing some of the facts pertaining to the meeting (which) needed clarification from our side.” She said that there is a book which is being written that will cover in part about the events in SDP in 1993.
“I believe the public should await its publication to get a balanced perspective of the whole SDP saga in 1993,” Mrs Chiam said.
Mrs Chiam further told the Straits Times (ST) that she was unhappy because “there was an understanding that the details of the meetings should be kept confidential if the whole thing fizzled out. We kept (our) side of the bargain.” ST published this comment on Cooling Off Day.
Since the conclusion of the by-election in which Dr Chee lost by attaining 38.8 percent of the votes cast, Dr Chee and SDP have called for a press conference as well as written several articles to claim that Mr Chiam’s ouster from SDP was his own doing.
In referring to Mrs Chiam’s comments to ST that they (Mr and Mrs Chiam) had kept the details of the meetings in 2011 confidential as was agreed by both parties, Dr John Tan claimed that his is a complete and utter falsehood.
In referring to a ST article published just before the 2011 General Election, titled ‘Chee invited me to return to SDP’, Mr Tan claimed that it was Mr Chiam who first breached the confidentiality clause of the private meetings.
In responding to Mr Tan’s accusation in his Facebook Mrs Lina Chiam said that she stood by what she said to the media at the time of the by-election.
She said, “John Tan was never privy to the proposal meetings at Hotel Royal, albeit the first meeting when he generously piled us with food in his house.”
“What details does he know during those subsequent meetings at Hotel Royal,” she asked.
“All subsequent meetings and proposals were arranged by Dr Wong Wee Nam and Mr Bently Tan with Dr Chee in the shadows,” Mrs Chiam added.
Mrs Chiam reiterated that the negotiations were a non-starter because SDP wanted Mr Chiam alone to crossover to the party from SPP. It is unclear if offers were made for both parties to merge or for other party members from SPP (including Mrs Chiam) to crossover. SDP wanted Mr Chiam to lead a GRC team in the 2011 General Election, but did not offer him leadership position in the party.
Mrs Chiam claimed that it was SDP which first broke the confidentiality clause of their 2011 meetings with “their misleading article about the meeting by Dr Wong Wee Nam in their 2015 newsletter and we (the Chiams) did the clarification accordingly.”
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