SDP aims to deny PAP 2/3 majority in Parliament, calls for united opposition: Chee Soon Juan

The Singapore Democratic Party kicked off its pre-general elections campaign at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel on 23 February 2019 at the Mandarin Hotel. PHOTO: Wan Ting Koh/Yahoo News Singapore
The Singapore Democratic Party kicked off its pre-general elections campaign at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel on 23 February 2019 at the Mandarin Hotel. PHOTO: Wan Ting Koh/Yahoo News Singapore

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) aims to deny the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) a two-thirds majority of seats in Parliament at the next general elections (GE), its Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan said on Saturday (23 February).

Speaking at an event to kick off the opposition party’s pre-GE campaign at Mandarin Orchard Hotel, Dr Chee said that the SDP was open to working with other opposition parties ahead of the GE, which must be held by January 2021.

Towards that goal, Dr Chee added the SDP will be contesting for the same 11 seats that it did at the last GE in 2015.

“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 told Yahoo News Singapore after the event, which was attended by some 230 members of the public.

Under Singapore’s parliamentary system, a ruling party is required to win a two-thirds supermajority of seats to be able to make constitutional amendments.

The seats that the SDP will focus on are subject to any changes in the electoral boundaries, Dr Chee added.

“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 said.

At the 2015 GE, the SDP fielded 11 candidates in the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC and three Single Member Constituencies – Bukit Panjang, Bukit Batok and Yuhua – and lost all the seats to the PAP.

Dr Chee also lost to PAP’s Murali Pillai in the Bukit Batok by-election in 2016.

Calling for public support, united opposition

Unveiling its campaign slogan “SDP Now” on Saturday, vice chairman John Tan revealed that the party plans to present policy papers in the months leading up to a possible GE in September.

SDP leaders also urged members of the public for more support and funding. When asked to elaborate, Dr Chee said the party requires a “ballpark figure” of 300 to 500 volunteers to conduct walkabouts in the areas that it plans to contest.

As for a possible coalition between the opposition parties, Dr Chee encouraged the other parties to sit down to work towards a common goal, saying that the SDP is currently facilitating such a discussion.

“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” Dr Chee said.

He added, “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.”

On 23 July last year, the SDP organised a meeting attended by members from six other opposition parties – 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 – and former PAP Member of Parliament Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

At the meeting, SDP proposed that Dr Tan lead an opposition coalition. In response, Dr Tan said then, “If you want me to lead, then we must think of country first. If we go in, we must go in as a team.”

SDP’s campaign occurred just as two new opposition parties had been announced in the past six months. The establishment of PV, led by ex-National Solidarity Party’s chairman Lim Tean, was approved by the Registry of Societies (ROS) in October last year while last month, Dr Tan announced that he had applied to form the Progress Singapore Party.

If Dr Tan’s application with the ROS were successful, there will be 10 active opposition parties in Singapore.

Originally slated to take place at an industrial area in Eunos Ave 3, SDP’s campaign was nearly derailed following a last-minute cancellation by the venue’s management.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the SDP alleged that the management KCC (Kingdom Community Church) Ventures cancelled the event that afternoon, citing “inspection reasons”.

However, SDP chairman Paul Tambyah said in his speech at the campaign that KCC later informed the party that political events were not allowed at its venue.

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