Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan has reiterated that he would not respond to personal attacks and would stay focused on policy issues during the election season.
Speaking at a rally at Woodlands Stadium on Tuesday night (8 Sep), Chee said he had received many emails from supporters asking him to "whack" election rivals Vivian Balakrishnan and Sim Ann from the People’s Action Party for taking a swipe at him the night before.
Chee asked supporters not to call the duo unkind names, as it would not just hurt them, but also their family members, something he said that he knew all too well.
"If I win this election, I want to win with honour," said Chee, who is leading the SDP’s Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) team at the general election. "And if I lose, I want to lose with grace and dignity.”
At a PAP rally on Monday night (7 Sep), Balakrishnan said the PAP did not have a tradition of "backstabbing" its mentors, in a veiled reference to Chee’s role in ousting Chiam See Tong as secretary-general of SDP in 1993.
At SDP’s lunchtime rally on Monday (7 Sep), Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC candidate Bryan Lim debunked the "myth" over Chiam’s exit from the party that has been perpetuated over the years, saying that Chiam resigned on his own accord. Chee has also provided his account of the incidents that led to Chiam’s resignation on the party’s website, citing various media articles.
Lim also said that the party had left its door open for Chiam, who is Secretary-General of Singapore People’s Party (SPP), to return and even for the veteran opposition politician to lead a GRC team and contest in the 2011 general election. Chiam’s wife, Lina Chiam, who is chairman of SPP, confirmed with Today newspaper that the two sides had held “friendly talk” on the proposal but did not proceed further.
At the same PAP rally, Sim accused Chee of being adept at "chut pattern", a Singlish phrase meaning being full of tricks.
In response, Chee said, "If you attack, you attack the policy, not the person... In football terms, you play the ball, not the man,” which drew cheers from the rally crowd.
One of the policy issues that Chee addressed was the different target population figures cited by government officials in the past, including the much debated 6.9 million figure in the Population White Paper, which has caused confusion among Singaporeans.
"Can you tell Singaporeans clearly how many people does the PAP want to have in Singapore?" Chee asked, directing the question to Sim, who was previously a senior director of the National Population and Talent Division. The unit of the Prime Minister’s Office released the White Paper in 2013.
Chee also asked if the PAP would consider the SDP's proposal to base the optimal population on the happiness of residents, and a point system when bringing in foreigners for skilled jobs.
His Holland-Bukit Timah GRC teammate, Paul Tambyah, also spoke at the rally and took aim at what he considered fear-mongering in the media. He used the example of the front page of The Straits Times on Tuesday, which led with a story of how the PAP might not remain in power after the election.
"We cannot form the next government with 11 candidates. We cannot even implement some of the so-called 'dangerous' policies," Tambyah said.