On Wednesday (15 January), Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) member Ravi Philemon took to his Facebook to point out People’s Power Party Secretary-General Goh Meng Seng’s sharp remarks towards Chee Soon Juan (leader of Singapore Democratic Party) that he made in 2016.

Mr Goh had then said that Dr Chee should renounce his SDP leadership following his landslide loss at the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election. Dr Chee only got 38.8 percent of votes cast at the election, whereas MP Murali Pillai of the People’s Action Party (PAP) won with 61.2 percent valid votes.

“No matter how we look at it objectively and rationally, it could only mean one thing, whether we like it or not, he (Dr Chee) has been tainted beyond hope. He is just unelectable,” wrote Mr Goh.

He added, “As I have said, SDP has a fantastic support team behind but as long as Chee is leading SDP, all their effort may just come to nothing. I guess for the sake of Chee’s family, it is time for him to take a back seat and allow others to take SDP to greater heights.”

Mr Ravi shared Mr Goh’s 2016 comment in light of the latest fiasco surrounding PSP’s Central Committee Member (CEC) Alex Tan who called the leaders of the proposed four-party alliance as captains of “sinking boats” who are “clasping one another’s hands to save themselves from drowning”.

Mr Goh defends his stance

In response to the ongoing dispute over Mr Alex Tan’s comment, Mr Goh stated in the comment section of Mr Ravi’s post that his remarks towards Dr Chee was his “honest opinion”, unlike Mr Tan who said it “in jest”.

“I like people who can fight like a man, stick to what you say and not wayang like a jester. I put it clearly, keep the jester out opposition politics please,” he wrote.

He added, “And for the record, it is pretty lame and lack of integrity to insinuate that it was some ghostly member of proposed alliance who get his derogatory and mean message to the Main Stream media. He has admitted to ST (that) he repeated his statement to TOC”.

Following that, Augustin Lee Zixu, former PPP member who was a fellow candidate for Chua Chu Kang GRC in the 2011 General Election, asked if Mr Goh would be okay if Mr Tan didn’t make his remarks in a jest.

As a reply, Mr Goh said that he can’t view Mr Tan’s comments seriously and “do not need to say much” as it was made in jest. However, if his remarks were done in a more serious note, then Mr Goh said that he “will tear down his comment in totality”.

“PSP has distanced itself from his remarks and went further to claim he comment(ed) in jest. How can I take him seriously? But if he stick to his guns, then that’s another matter. I will tear down his comment in totality,” Mr Goh said.

He continued, “If it in jest, then he owes every one of us an apology. Else put on the gloves and fight like a man.”

Other netizens include his running mate, Mr Lee, slammed Mr Goh for his incapability to accept criticisms from people, despite his willingness to call out Dr Chee in public.

The background

On 9 January, Mr Tan told TOC that the leaders of the four parties – Singaporeans First (SingFirst), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), People’s Power Party (PPP) and Reform Party – intending to form the alliance are “like four captains from their respective sinking boats – not even a ship! – clasping one another’s hands to save themselves from downing”.

When queried by The Straits Times (ST) if PSP will collaborate with other opposition parties to prevent three-cornered fights in the next general election — which must be held by April next year — Mr Alex Tan said: “We simply don’t want to talk about it.”

Following that, he also clarified with ST on 14 January (Tuesday) stating that his remarks were made in his personal capacity, and were not representative of his party’s stance.

He explained that the comments were “made when I posted my reaction in my various chat groups, when chat members posted the ST story on the four-party coalition”.

“It is my personal view only. I said so because I love analogies and symbolism and poetry,” added Mr Tan, who is also the personal assistant to PSP leader Tan Cheng Bock.

Both Mr Tan’s comments and subsequent clarification drew flak from leaders of the constituent parties of the proposed alliance.

Mr Goh expressed in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he was “shocked to learn that PSP has all along not committed to Opposition Unity and preparing itself for 3 corner fights”.

He added that he is “disappointed and simply disillusioned by the myth” of a “Unifying Figure of Opposition”, a description often attributed to PSP’s founding chief Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

“I was still hopeful to invite TCB to lead the alliance until Alex and member of PSP had confirmed they are not interested at all and was preparing to fight 3 corner fights with all “sinking boat fringe” parties,” he said.

One day later, on 15 January (Wednesday), PSP released a statement highlighting that Mr Tan’s remarks “were made in jest in the context of a casual group chat with friends”, some of whom are “members from the proposed alliance”.

“Please take note that PSP would like to clarify that these comments are not shared by Dr Tan and the rest of the CEC,” said PSP, adding that the party “deeply respect the years of commitment and sacrifice that other opposition parties and their leaders have put into working for the betterment of the nation,” the party explained.

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