Elliot Aruldoss, Jewel Philemon
It all started on 7 May when the results of the 2011 General Elections were revealed. A group of Potong Pasir residents gathered at a coffeeshop at Block 108 eagerly awaiting the results. This was the same coffeeshop which celebrated the triumph of the Singapore People’s Party’s (SPP) Mr Chiam See Tong each election, for the last 27 years. But this year was different. The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Mr Sitoh Yih Pin won by 114 votes against Mr Chiam’s wife, Mrs Lina Chiam.
There was anger among those at the coffeeshop that night when the results were announced, says Mr Daniel D’Costa, one of Mr Chiam’s supporters. The people were in a state of shock, he says. Eventually, a petition-signing initiative was launched by some residents of the ward, to call for a by-election.
A ‘Potong Pasir By-Election Team’ was created and this core team started its campaign for signatures, on the 8 of May, by holding a petition-signing at Block 136, Potong Pasir Avenue 1, and even setting up a Facebook page: ‘Petition for Residents of Potong Pasir’.
The first day of campaigning saw an overwhelming response as residents and non-residents turned up to sign the petition.
The signature collection continued for three days, until the 10 May, when the police dispersed the crowd and threatened arrest, citing violation of the Public Order Act.
Mr D’Costa says he was summoned by the police on the 16 May, to assist with investigation into the gathering of people at the petition signing. However, Mr D’Costa was absent on the petition-signing that day, as he was at dinner with Mrs Chiam, he explains.
Mr Rykel Lim, Mrs Chiam’s election agent, was also summoned to the police station, even though he is not involved with the petition. “The police wanted me to tell the people that it is ok to have the petition but to just have it indoors,” Mr Lim says. “When I asked him why should I do the job of the police, he said that if he (the police officer) was to move in, he would have to make arrests. And that if he made arrests, he would have to press charges. He told me that if he were to press charges, the first person he would gun for would be me.”
Mr Rykel said that the situation was resolved before he could take further action.
About the petition itself, Mr Lim says, “This is a residents’ thing. It is not an initiative of the SPP.”
While Mr D’Costa claims that the petition was seized by the police, Mr Rykel says that the police told him that no arrests were made and no documents were seized.
So what happens to the petition campaign now? The Online Citizen (TOC) understands that it has been discontinued and there are no further plans for the campaign.
In the meantime, Mrs Chiam has accepted the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seat.