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Stronger ties with RP? SPP’s Chairman speaks

by Ravi Philemon

Mr Sin Kek Tong, the Chairman of Singapore People’s Party is no stranger to controversies. In 2008, Mr Sin reportedly said that he will support protests of any kind, only when there are no more single member constituencies. More recently, he blew the whistle on the secretary-general of SPP, Mr Chiam See Tong, that Mr Chiam has not been paying his dues to the Party coffers.

Is there more to this opposition politician who has contested 5 general elections and came very close to unseating PAP candidate Goh Choon Kang in the 1991 General Election with 47.7% of the valid votes? The Online Citizen caught up with the veteran politician recently to hear him out.

“If I don’t speak up now, what moral grounds would I have to speak up when someone else from the Party gets elected and gets into parliament but does not contribute ten per cent of his MP allowance to the Party?" Mr Sin explained when asked why he chose to go public about Mr Chiam’s under-contributions to the Party coffers only now. "But all is fine now. Mr Chiam understands why I had to do it and we will accept the $1000 contribution from Mr Chiam.”

Mr Sin, who turns 69 this year, confirmed that he would contest the single member constituency of Chua Chu Kang.

When reminded that the Reform Party(RP)  has also laid claim to Chua Chu Kang SMC and that Mr Jeyaretnam the secretary-general of the Reform Party had said that Mr Sin may have to risk a three-cornered fight, Mr Sin replied, “Mr Jeyaretnam has always said that he wants ties between SPP and RP to be strengthened, but then he makes statements like this. How can ties be strengthened when you undermine the work of a member of the Party you want to strengthen ties with?"

"I want to avoid a three-cornered fight," he added.  "I have been doing the groundwork in Chua Chu Kang since 2008. I only have a few more years where I can offer myself as an opposition candidate. The Reform Party candidates are younger. I hope they will defer to me because of the work I have been doing on the ground, for the sake of strengthening ties between parties and also because of my age”.

What about his specific plans for Chua Chu Kang?

Mr Sin said, “Chua Chu Kang has a higher ratio of HDB flat owners. In other constituencies the HDB/private property mix is at a ratio of 80/20. In Choa Chu Kang, 90 per cent of the constituents are HDB flat owners, so the main issue I will be bringing up will be the cost of living, which is also a national issue.

“I am also a firm believer in stability. I believe that anyone elected should strive to provide as much normalcy and stability to the constituents as possible. As such if elected and if it is acceptable to the victors of the election in Hong Kah GRC, I will choose to keep Chua Chu Kang town council under the Hong Kah town council, as is the case now. This way, there will be minimal disruption to the residents of Chua Chu Kang."

“2011 will be a fruitful year for the opposition, but only if we stay united," he concluded.