Following the General Election of July 2020 which saw an alternative political party, the Workers’ Party (WP) wrest another Group Representative Constituency (GRC) from the People’s Action Party (PAP), we have yet another new political party joining the scene.
The Singapore United Party (SUP) is the latest political party to enter the foray. With 11 members, the SUP was registered as a society on 24 Dec 2020, according to a notice in the Government Gazette.
While the SUP might be a new party, its members are not entirely novices. Its members comprise former chairman of the Reform Party (RP) headed by Kenneth Jeyaretnam (Jeyaretnam), Andy Zhu (Zhu), RP’s ex-treasurer, Noraini Yunus, alongside seven other ex RP members. The non ex RP members are Joyce Tan, a former Singapore Democratic Party member, Choo Zin Chye and Kenneth Zhang.
The formation of the SUP has reignited talk of internal conflict within the ranks of RP with Zhu accusing Jeyaretnam of being undemocratic while Jeyaretnam has accused Zhu of making changes to RP’s payment processes without official approval.
In an interview with the Straits Times, however, Zhu was quick to reiterate that all parties involved had moved on from the debacle with RP and that the SUP was not a breakaway faction of RP.
“It is common for people to leave and join (political parties)… Since I’ve been in RP for so many years, the people that I know of are mostly from RP, so it is reasonable that many of the members in SUP have links to RP.”
Being at its infancy, the SUP does not currently have a manifesto, a party website or a social media page and what it does next or the role that it will play in the political landscape of Singapore remains to be seen. However, Zhu has said that, among other things, the SUP hopes to address bread-and-butter issues.
“Some of our focus areas would include the Central Provident Fund system, housing, education, and healthcare benefits… From my past experiences walking the ground in Ang Mo Kio and West Coast, residents there are much more concerned about such bread-and-butter issues, and I hope to better understand residents’ needs, represent them, and make their voices ahead.”
The political landscape in Singapore is an evolving one and Singapore has had a challenging year which saw it both battle a global pandemic as well as run a general election which saw a dip in the PAP’s performance amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
As we enter 2021, there will be continued challenges with the economy. Issues concerning the granting of Employment Passes will also continue to be a bugbear to the PAP. With the eventual hike of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) plus the increase of Medishield premiums all set to take effect, how the PAP will fare is anyone’s guess.
How will the SUP add to this political climate? We will have to wait and see.