SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) on Friday (26 June) refuted accusations by Reform Party (RP) of not honouring a “gentleman's agreement” between the two parties over the contest for Yio Chu Kang Single Member Constituency (SMC) at the 10 July General Election (GE).
PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai – who has been the liaison between the party and other opposition parties – noted there had been no “formal agreement” between PSP and RP.
He was responding to a media query pooled at a virtual media conference to announce the party's final batch of GE candidates.
Leong said that he has had direct contact with Jeyaretnam – whom he called an honourable man – from the beginning, and while they have “engaged in very fruitful and frank discussions” and “discussed testing ideas and principles”, they needed the approval of the respective parties’ central executive committees to proceed further.
“We were very surprised when they came up to say that’s an agreement and we are breaking it. But nevertheless, if there’s a misunderstanding, then I would like to apologise to (RP secretary-general) Kenneth (Jeyaretnam) and RP,” he added.
According to a Facebook post by RP chairman Andy Zhu on Thursday, part of the agreement in the spirit “of opposition unity” was for his party to cede the West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) to Dr Tan to avoid a three-corner fight. The party had contested in West Coast twice, in 2011 and 2015.
In exchange, PSP had offered to withdraw from contesting in various constituencies that RP is eyeing, said Zhu.
“The PSP (is) deeply aware that after the ceding of West Coast GRC, we will be contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC, Yio Chu Kang SMC, and Radin Mas SMC,” he added.
”It seems like they are not honouring this gentleman’s agreement that they had with our SG-Kenneth. Yio Chu Kang SMC was part of Ang Mo Kio and the rights to contest should be given to us,” he added.
The PSP will be fielding 24 candidates across nine constituencies, including Yio Chu Kang. The RP had contested in the SMC, which was hived off from Ang Mo Kio GRC, in the previous two GEs.
Leong also called for the RP not to take issue and “attack the honesty of Dr Tan”, a man of “integrity and character”.
“We take a serious view if they continue to attack Dr Tan. And we hope that it will stop...further accusations and let us all, concentrate on the general election,” he said.
‘We hope PSP would come to their senses’
Speaking to Yahoo News Singapore, Jeyaretnam said that the parties had an agreement in writing on WhatsApp. “I don't want to release that because it's a private WhatsApp (conversation) but if it's necessary, I would do so,” he added.
When asked if his party would contest West Coast, Jeyaretnam said that RP members remain firm on their decision to cede the GRC to the PSP “because the only people who win when there are three-corner fights are the PAP”.
“We hope the PSP would come to their senses and withdraw their attempt to go back on the agreement,” he said.
“Yio Chu Kang was not negotiable and we made it clear. I don't know if (Leong) had done this without Dr Tan's authorisation, but to go back on a deal...is very bad faith.”
When asked if he would be contesting at Yio Chu Kang, Jeyaretnam said he will not reveal the party’s line-up at this stage.
“We will be contesting there and we expect there will not be any three-corner fight,” he added. ”I am confident there will not be.”
The party, which plans to field seven members, released its election manifesto late Friday night.
PSP candidates and their contesting grounds
The PSP will field 24 candidates across nine constituencies – four GRCs and five SMCs. They are:
Hong Kah North SMC: Gigene Wong
Pioneer SMC: Lim Cher Hong
Yio Chu Kang SMC: Kayla Low
Marymount SMC: Dr Ang Yong Guan
Kebun Baru SMC: Kumaran Pillai
Nee Soon GRC: Damien Tay, Taufik Supan, Brad Bowyer, Kala Manickam, S. Nalla
Chua Chu Kang GRC: Francis Yuen, Dr Tan Meng Wah, Choo Shaun Ming, Abdul Rahman
Tanjong Pagar GRC: Michael Chua, Harish Pillay, Wendy Low, Terence Soon, Abas Kasmani
West Coast GRC: Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Jeffrey Khoo, Hazel Poa, Leong Mun Wai, Loganathan Nadarajah