TL;DR – Dr Chee has successfully ‘choped’ the spot to contest in Bukit Batok by-election, one-on-one with the ruling PAP.
Following the resignation of David Ong from the MP post for the Bukit Batok SMC, it’s inevitable that a by-election will beheld (in PM Lee’s words, ‘in due course’).
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has been quick to announce its intention to contest right after David Ong’s resignation and it has already announced Dr Chee Soon Juan’s candidacy over the weekend.
What about the other opposition parties?
Workers’ Party (WP)
WP was one of the first to declare that they would not be contesting on 14th March. Here, you can see WP’s chairman Sylvia Lim confirming that her party will not contest the by-election.
She cited two reasons:
The WP is not active in that area, and the SDP had declared its intention to run, having contested the constituency in last year’s general election.
Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA)
SDA, led by Desmond Lim, did not offer elaborate on why they are not contesting, choosing to publish a Facebook post on 18th March that merely said they are not running.
People’s Power Party (PPP)
Led by its Secretary-General Goh Meng Seng, the PPP has also said they would not be contesting since the SDP has already declared its intention and has also fielded one of their best men.
Reform Party (RP)
Headed by Kenneth Jeyeratnam, the RP will also stay hands-off from this by-election. They published a Facebook post on their decision yesterday evening (20th March).
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
Benjamin Pwee of DPP, had said last week that he would be contesting in the Bukit Batok by-election. It appears that he has since changed his mind.
Benjamin Pwee said,
“We believe him to be a very strong candidate with good ground support. We are happy to bow out of this race, and let this be a straight fight between the SDP and the PAP. We wish Dr Chee the very best.”
Both the party and Tan Jee Say have been rather low-key about this episode. A check of their Facebook page showed a low volumn of posts, the last one being a CNY greeting post, and a post on 12th march, demanding for the PAP to come clean with the David Ong issue.
Media has reported that SingFirst will not be contesting in the Bukit Batok by-election.
Straight Fight between the PAP and SDP?
As things stand now, all opposition parties have ruled themselves out of the contest, leaving the SDP to face-off with the ruling PAP.
Earlier, Dr Chee has said the party was hoping for a one-on-one contest with the PAP in the Bukit Batok by-election, so it looks like things are going his way.
When announcing his candidacy yesterday morning, Dr Chee had said,
“My priority as MP of Bukit Batok, if I am so fortunate to be elected, will be to ensure the efficient and productive management of Bukit Batok town council (BBTC). The SDP’s goal is to surpass current levels of performance of PAP-run town councils.”
The SDP chief seems to be addressing the possible concern that might be weighing on the Bukit Batok residents’ minds – that the SDP has had no experience running a town council. He further elaborated that if elected, the BBTC will not be engaging a managing agent.
“Instead we will employ qualified and experienced professionals to be part of our management team, and I will personally see the effective running of the town council, and to attend to the residents’ concerns.”
Two other things he said that he will put in place if elected are quarterly townhall meetings, and local elections for residents to elect their own town council leaders.
What is the response from the ruling PAP?
DPM Tharman was at a remembrance event for the one-year death anniversary of our founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew Sunday evening when he was asked by the media to comment on the SDP’s plan to field Dr Chee.
“I’m not surprised that Dr Chee Soon Juan has indicated that he is going to stand in Bukit Batok, We welcome the contest.”
When asked about whom the PAP will be fielding, DPM Tharman said the party has got someone whom they are very confident of, and that they would not keep people waiting too long. He further shared that the candidate is “someone who is known to the residents, who works very hard and is sincere at heart.”[alert color=”green” icon=”fa-bookmark”](Updated 25 Apr 2016) A reader alerted us that the Singapore People’s Power (SPP, led by the Chiams) actually has not declared if they will contest in the by-election or not. So, let’s wait and see who files their nomination forms come Wednesday. (Thanks, Samuel!) [/alert]