SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) will contest the same constituencies as it did in the last general election, said secretary-general Chee Soon Juan as he launched the party’s election campaign on Saturday (Feb 23).
"In terms of the constituencies that we are looking at, it's no different from the ones we contested in 2015 - subject of course to the redrawing of the boundaries which we won't know until closer to the election," Dr Chee told reporters at a Mandarin Orchard ballroom.
"But as it stands right now, it will be those same few constituencies that we contested in 2015."
SDP had fielded 11 candidates in the 2015 General Election but failed to gain a seat. The party contested three Single Member Constituencies – Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Yuhua - and two Group Representation Constituencies – Holland-Bukit Timah and Marsiling-Yew Tee.
The next general election must be held by April 2021.
The SDP’s new campaign slogan is “#SDPNOW, The Way Forward”, which Dr Chee said was based on the party’s "vision" and "alternative policies" for the future.
He added that the SDP has stuck to its beliefs and values.
"We're still continuing to fight the same things, because the PAP (People’s Action Party) refuses to change," he said.
"And in the interim, what they have done is that they have hit us, thrown the kitchen sink at us, but we've stuck to our message, we've never wavered in our belief that rights come before riches, people before profit, wisdom before wealth."
He also explained why the SDP is kickstarting its campaign early.
"The fight, the contest, is won or lost way before those nine days (of campaigning). So for us, it's making sure we start early, we get people who are new here, coming to this event early enough ... Call us kiasu, I don't know, but it's important for us because we don't know when elections are going to be held. By the time it's held, it's going to be too late,” Dr Chee said.
Several SDP members took to the stage at the launch, including chairman Paul Tambyah and vice chairman John Tan.
Dr Tambyah talked about the “relentless rise in the cost of living”, as well as a “series of leaks and tragedies” that he said have caused people to question whether the PAP is up to the task of leading Singapore.
“I don’t think mistakes are going to go away,” he added. “I know they will happen, that malicious individuals will commit crimes that hurt many people and accidents also will happen, but what I’m concerned about is that nobody takes responsibility, or ownership of these disasters."
A “CONSOLIDATED” OPPOSITION NEEDED: DR CHEE
In his speech, Dr Chee touched on the importance of having a “consolidated” opposition effort in local politics.
The SDP was among seven opposition parties which came together last year to explore the possibility of working closer together at the next general election.
Present at that meeting was political veteran Tan Cheng Bock, who recently filed an application to form a new political party called Progress Singapore Party.
“The first step is to get everybody to sit at the same table and ask the question - what are we trying to achieve?” Dr Chee said on Saturday. “I want to encourage our opposition friends to think of what we are fighting for and work towards that end where we have that common value, that goal we want to achieve.”
Mr Benjamin Pwee, who recently applied to join SDP after his resignation from the Democratic Progressive Party, was at the campaign launch.
“The launch was very good because it features public policy which is at the very heart and it is very much beliefs and values based rather than personality based,” Mr Pwee told Channel NewsAsia. “There are very few political parties who have the wherewithal to actually come up with good solid policy formulations.”
The SDP’s Central Executive Committee will meet in early March to consider the application of Mr Pwee, who contested in Bishan-Toa Payoh in the last two general elections.
According to SDP vice chairman John Tan, the party will progressively roll out a series of revised policies in the months to come, with their cost of living policy and housing policy to be unveiled in March.
The party is also planning to hold a pre-election rally at Hong Lim Park in September.