The following is an open letter from the secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, Dr Chee Soon Juan.
The report in the Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao (29 Mar 10) quoted Ms Lina Loh (Mr Chiam See Tong’s wife) as saying that I was the one who ousted Mr Chiam from the SDP. The report also quoted her as making other remarks about me that were untrue.
In my interview with Lianhe Zaobao published on 28 Feb 10, I had said that several CEC members had repeatedly tried to persuade Mr Chiam not to resign as secretary-general of the party because we still saw him as the leader.
I added that even in the eyes of party leaders like Mr Ling How Doong, Mr Chiam’s position was never challenged but we just wished he could be more democratic.
This cannot be seen, by any stretch of the imagination, to be statements attacking Mr Chiam. I was relating what really took place, namely, that Mr Chiam’s colleagues persuaded him to return because we still wanted to see him continue on as leader.
But in response to my statements Mrs Lina Chiam has launched a very personal attack against me, accusing me of ousting Mr Chiam.
I have exercised utmost restraint in highlighting some of the issues that led up to Mr Chiam’s resignation as secretary-general and subsequent expulsion from the party.
For example, when the Today journalist Mr Loh Chee Kong emailed me in February 2009 asking for my response to Mr Chiam’s comments that the SDP was engaging in “conspiratorial and destructive politics” and that he was “forced out” of the party, I replied to Mr Loh:
“I have no desire to let myself and my party be dragged by you into a mud-slinging match with another opposition party.”
At the same time I wrote to Mr Chiam pointing out that his remarks “inaccurate and uncalled for.”
I then added that “We bear no ill-will towards you (Mr Chiam) and we wish only the best for you, your family and the Singapore Peoples’ Party. We seek cooperation, not confrontation, with our fellow opposition parties.”
Today went ahead and published the report anyway. Even then, in my reply to the article I refrained from criticising Mr Chiam and continued to wish him well. I only wanted to set the record straight that I did not oust him.
At the Reform Party dinner in 2009, I approached Mr Chiam to wish him well.
I attended his 25th anniversary dinner as an MP because I bore him no grudge and I was hoping the same from him.
The Singapore Democrats had even organised two public forums in 2008 and 2009 where we invited all the opposition party leaders, including Mr Chiam, to see how we could cooperate. We also invited him to our 30th anniversary dinner.
I did all this in the hope of burying the hatchet with Mr Chiam.
Unfortunately today’s outburst published in the Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao and My Paper where Mrs Lina Chiam made a host of personal attacks against me were untrue. It has poisoned the well again.
This must stop. I have been demonised by the PAP and its media for long enough. I have been accused of ousting Mr Chiam which is a blatant lie. Records will show this.
I have refrained from answering my critics on this matter because I was hoping that the past would remain where it belongs, and that we can look ahead and focus on our fight for a democratic Singapore.
Depending on the developments over the next day or so, it may be necessary to set the record straight over the episode of Mr Chiam’s departure from the SDP.
I say “may be” because even at this late stage I am hoping that something can still be done to avert any open clash with Mrs Chiam. Suffice it to say that the ball is in her court.
I want to put a stop to the lies propagated by the PAP and the media that I had entered the SDP and ungratefully usurped Mr Chiam’s position as leader. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are many details that hitherto Singaporeans do not know because they have been obscured or covered by the SPH in the past.
Sometimes it takes more courage to walk away from a fight. But there comes a time when one has to turn around and face one’s accusers and say “No more.”
I only wish for opposition supporters to know and understand that the SDP must defend itself. While we have refrained from open criticism of others in the opposition, that gesture must be reciprocated.
There is no doubt that the PAP’s media is fanning this matter for all its worth. But the SDP cannot always be the only one to see this. At some point we cannot avoid speaking up. That point is very near.