SINGAPORE — A former candidate for the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in GE2020, Damanhuri Bin Abas, recently announced his departure from his position at the Muhammadiyah Islamic College (MIC) just two months after rejoining the institution. This development follows his retirement from active politics, as disclosed in a series of Facebook posts.
Damanhuri, on 1 March, publicly announced his retreat from active politics, expressing gratitude for the experiences gained during his seven-year political journey.
In a heartfelt statement, he said, “I am grateful to the Singapore Democratic Party for giving me the opportunity and trust to be a candidate for them in two General Elections.”
He further praised the party leaders, Dr Paul Tambyah and Dr Chee Soon Juan, for their mentorship, ultimately describing his political career as an eventful journey that contributed towards his personal growth.
Months after his retirement from politics, Damanhuri joined MIC on 1 April, promising a minimum of five years of service in his role as Director.
However, his tenure was cut short.
On 3 June, Damanhuri revealed that despite his commitment and excitement about leading MIC again, he was made to leave the college.
“Since I returned to MIC, I have tried to remain focused on my operational and leadership role at the College. However, two weeks into the job (on the last week of Ramadan), I was informed that I needed to go,” Damanhuri stated.
Although no specific reasons were provided for his abrupt departure, many of Damanhuri’s Facebook followers speculated that political factors might be at play.
In a Facebook post on 16 May, prior to his departure from MIC, Damanhuri shared about a lunch meeting with Dr Tambyah of the National University Health System (NUHS).
Dr Tambyah, despite being the Chairman of SDP, maintained his professional role at NUHS and the National University of Singapore (NUS) without any conflict.
Damanhuri stated, “I learned that his position as Chairman of SDP in his personal capacity did not in any way affect his employment and position in NUH or NUS.”
He further highlighted Dr Tambyah’s accolade, the Ministry of Health’s Distinguished Senior Clinician Award in 2021, lauding the professional integrity of NUH and NUS.
Damanhuri also mentioned Bryan Lim, a fellow SDP candidate, who remains a respected senior administrative staff at a public hospital despite his political activities. Similarly, Ms Sylvia Lim, the Chairman of Workers’ Party, continued her role as a lecturer in Temasek Polytechnic even after winning the Aljunied GRC, before resigning to become a full-time MP.
These instances, according to Bin Abas, exhibit how opposition politicians can continue to serve the country in their professional capacities without any partisan abuse of power. He wrote,
“Clearly the government does not practice nor condone any partisan abuse of power to undermine opposition politicians who are serving the country in their professional capacities.”
However, Damanhuri’s own experience seems to clash with the very principle he highlighted.
Damanhuri himself extended his empathy towards the young leaders of Muhammadiyah who, despite their efforts, could not retain him.
Despite this setback, Bin Abas remains hopeful, stating, “moving forward I trust and have faith that wisdom will prevail in the country and that the community would continue to progress and grow.”
He pledged to continue contributing to the community in any way possible, reinforcing his commitment to service and societal growth.
While his departure has raised numerous questions and sparked considerable speculation, Damanhuri left with a message of gratitude, thanking the college and Muhammadiyah for the trust they had placed in him during his brief tenure.