The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) kicked off its pre-GE campaign at Mandarin Orchard Hotel over the weekend. Dr Chee Soon Juan, the opposition party’s Secretary-General, outlined SDP’s primary goal. “Our message is very clear, that we need to deny the PAP the two-thirds majority.”
Dr Chee also emphasized that the SDP is willing to collaborate with other opposition parties even before the next General Election (GE) is called. The GE must be held by January 2021, although rumors abound that it could be called as early as sometime this year.
After the kickoff, Dr Chee told Yahoo News Singapore of the party’s aim for the next GE. “Right now our main goal is to make sure we go in and deny the PAP its two-thirds majority. And not just for the sake of depriving, it’s to make sure we advance our policies.”
Dr Chee made this point due to the country’s laws, which state that a ruling party must occupy two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, in a supermajority that would allow it to make changes to the constitution.
According to the SDP leader, the party is looking at Parliamentary seats that are subject to changes in the electoral boundaries. “It’s really hard to give you a definitive answer. But if nothing changes, then at the minimum, we’ll be contesting in the same seats…But our message is very clear, that we need to deny the PAP the two-thirds majority,” he added, underlining SDP’s main objective yet again.
Dr Chee himself contested in the Bukit Batok by-election in 2016 but was bested by Murali Pillai, a member of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
The slogan for SDP’s campaign is “SDP Now.” According to the party’s vice chairman, John Tan, SDP will be presenting policy papers ahead of the upcoming GE.
Around 230 members of the public attended the party’s campaign kick-off. The SDP asked for funding and support, and according to Dr Chee, they need some three to five hundred volunteers for holding walkabouts in the constituencies where they will be fielding candidates.
An opposition coalition?
Dr Chee said that the SDP is now in the process of facilitating discussions among the opposition to collaborate toward their shared goal, and he is encouraging other countries to pursue this as well.
He said, “I cannot guarantee that we will get there in the months to come, but the important thing is that we need to get the initiative going.
The first step is really to get everybody to sit at the same table and just to ask the question what is it we are trying to achieve. If it’s just getting into Parliament no matter what, then we will fail.
I continue to encourage our opposition friends to think about what we are fighting for.”
Last July, the party set up a discussion among seven opposition parties, the SDP, the Democratic Progressive Party, the National Solidarity Party, the People’s Power Party, the Peoples Voice (PV), the Reform Party and the Singaporeans First Party, as well as Dr Tan Cheng Bock, former PAP Member of Parliament.
Dr Tan just last month returned to the political arena and announced the formation of yet another opposition party, Progress Singapore Party, along with other former PAP cadres.
Back in July, when SDP asked Dr Tan to head a possible coalition, he said, “If you want me to lead, then we must think of country first. If we go in, we must go in as a team.”
Yet another venue change
The kickoff for the SDP was marked by a last minute change in venue. The KCC (Kingdom Community Church) Ventures Pte Ltd cancelled the event the day before it was supposed to be held at an industrial area in Eunos Ave 3.
This came a month after the Lifelong Learning Institute cancelled Dr Chee’s book launch a week before its scheduled date.
In a Facebook post, the SDP leader wrote, “At around noon today, the venue management, Kingdom Community Church Ventures Pte Ltd, suddenly emailed, informing us that the event tomorrow was cancelled. A month ago, the Lifelong Learning Institute cancelled my book launch one week before it was to happen.
We spent the entire day trying to persuade the company to honour its contract but to no avail. After some frenzied searching, we found another venue at Mandarin Orchard. We are the SDP, we never say die.”