SINGAPORE: Dr Chee Soon Juan has confirmed that he will be the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)'s candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election.
Dr Chee made the announcement of his candidacy on a walkabout in the single-seat constituency on Sunday (March 20).
The by-election will be the SDP secretary-general's second electoral contest after a 15-year absence. Prior to last year's General Election, he had been barred from standing in the 2006 and 2011 elections due to his status as an undischarged bankrupt.
In 2015, the 53-year-old ran for a seat in Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC). His SDP team garnered 33.4 per cent of the votes, losing to the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP) team's 66.6 per cent.
Chee Soon Juan, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)'s candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election, outlines his priorities as MP if elected. http://bit.ly/1R8s5Q3Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Saturday, March 19, 2016
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of PAP's David Ong as Bukit Batok Member of Parliament on Mar 12. He had cited "personal indiscretion" in leaving his post, following revelations that he had an extra-marital affair with a grassroots activist. Both have resigned from the party.
While the date for the by-election has not been announced, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said it will be held "in due course".
Mr Ong had won the Bukit Batok seat in 2015 with 73 per cent of the votes. SDP's Sadasivam Veriyah took 26.4 per cent, while independent candidate Samir Salim Neji chalked up just 0.6 per cent.
DR CHEE'S PRIORITIES
"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," said Dr Chee.
Under his leadership, Dr Chee said that the BBTC will not engage a managing agent. "Instead we will employ qualified and experienced professionals to be part of our management team, and I will personally see to the effective running of the town council, and to attend to the residents' concerns," he said.
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.
PAP TO INTRODUCE CANDIDATE ON MONDAY
Speaking to reporters at an event commemorating the first-year anniversary of Lee Kuan Yew's passing, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the People's Action Party is confident of fielding someone who is known to residents and who works hard.
The PAP will introduce its candidate to the media and Bukit Batok residents on Monday.
DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY NOT CONTESTING
So far, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the People's Power Party, the Worker's Party, and the Singapore Democratic Alliance have ruled themselves out of the contest.
DPP chief Benjamin Pwee, who had earlier signaled his intention to throw his hat into the ring, said on Sunday that he decided to bow out to make way for a straight fight between the SDP and the PAP.
"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."