Gunning for a GRC
It's not about leaving a legacy, says Chiam
Opposition MP also takes issue with call to reveal candidates early
By Jeremy Au Yong
Singapore People's Party secretary-general Chiam See Tong and party member Alex Tan handing out pamphlets to residents at a coffee shop in Sin Ming Road, in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. --ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
OPPOSITION leaders are not so 'small-minded' as to contest GRCs just for the sake of building a legacy, said Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong yesterday.
The 76-year-old is the latest opposition leader to weigh in against Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng's remarks on Wednesday, questioning the motives of opposition parties.
DPM Wong had said that there were opposition leaders who wanted to contest GRCs in order to leave a legacy as the first party to win a GRC, or to use it as a tool for leadership renewal. That, he said, was not what polls should be about.
'Is it about the interest and missions of political parties or an individual's interest to create a legacy or to make history?' he asked.
The comments seem to be directed primarily at Mr Chiam and Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang. Mr Low is mulling a GRC bid while Mr Chiam had said as early as last year that he was planning to contest the five-MP Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC led by DPM Wong.
Yesterday, Mr Chiam stressed that legacy-building had nothing to do with his GRC bid: 'It (a legacy) was never in my mind at all.'
He added: 'We are not that small-minded.'
Mr Chiam said his aim was to correct what he saw as an imbalance in Parliament: 'I've left my safe haven of Potong Pasir for a more dangerous ground because I want to expand the number of opposition members in Parliament.'
More opposition members were crucial, he said, to create a proper democracy. The few opposition MPs now could be 'snuffed out any time', he added.
Mr Chiam also took issue with DPM Wong's call on the opposition to announce its candidates early.
The DPM said unveiling candidates at the last minute would be short-changing voters, as they do not have enough time to assess the new faces.
Mr Chiam said it was the PAP that was keeping secrets, not the opposition.
'They know their candidates and they know the date when the election will be held, but they withheld all this information, leaving the opposition in a state of disarray,' he said.
On top of that, he said the opposition had - either intentionally or not - revealed a lot of their plans to the public.
'Most Singaporeans already know the opposition's candidates. The opposition likes to talk a lot. They inadvertently reveal their candidates' names,' he said.
He added that the rest of his team for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC could include members of other political parties, which he declined to identify.
'Other opposition parties are helping us in getting the men, and we will have a team when the time comes,' he said.
Last weekend, he had told The Straits Times that his own Singapore People's Party could provide the candidates he needs.
Asked if he would take up a Non-Constituency MP seat should his GRC bid fail, he stressed he had no interest in entering Parliament via the back door.
'It (NCMP) is not really elected by the majority of Singaporeans. It is a token move of the PAP,' he said.
'Is it about the interest and missions of political parties or an individual's interest to create a legacy or to make history?'
Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, on the opposition aiming to win a Group Representation Constituency
'We are not that small-minded... I've left my safe haven of Potong Pasir for a more dangerous ground because I want to expand the number of opposition members in Parliament.'
Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong, who had announced last year that he intends to do battle in the five-MP Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC led by Mr Wong