Backroom talks heat up among Opposition camps for GE; 3-way fights likely

Jun 16, 2020 | 🚀 Fathership

Opposition figures have begun backroom negotiations to ascertain the constituencies each party will contest in the upcoming Singapore general election. Things however came to a head when some members expressed their disagreement with the way talks are conducted, a source familiar with the matter told Fathership today (Jun 16).

According to the source, some members from smaller opposition parties were reportedly unhappy with the "disrespect" shown by Progress Singapore Party (PSP) in sending PSP Assistant Secretary General (ASG) Leong Mun Wai to lead negotiations instead of PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock.

ASG Leong said in the PSP's first online outreach session last month that he is in charge of liasing with the other parties for the general election.

In contrast, ASG Leong reiterates that the relationship between the opposition parties have been "cordial" and that "the likelihood of a three-cornered fight in a GRC is quite minimal".

"There has been a lot of progress in the coordination among the opposition parties," he added.

Opposition figure and People's Power Party chief Goh Meng Seng (GMS), however, beg to differ. He published a scathing post on Facebook yesterday (Jun 15) about the state of an Opposition coalition.

Goh Meng Seng: "...we may just find ourselves looking at massive 3 Corner Fights from the East to the West, North to South"

According to GMS post, he implied that talks to form a multi-party coalition is now moot owing to the level of "arrogance" present. He did not name any parties involved but said that parties wanting to run against the People's Action Party on their own "must have their heads checked".

GMS's post comes on the back of the Reform Party's (RP) announcement where they unveiled its potential line-up of seven potential candidates for GE. The announcement was made on a Facebook live-stream yesterday (Jun 15).

When asked by a viewer about opposition unity, RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam noted that all the parties taking on PAP (People's Action Party) want to see “better checks and balances” and accountability on government spending. “We are still in talks with other opposition parties to sort out our area of contest,” he added.

Potential 3-way fight in West Coast GRC

While it remains unclear where each of the RP candidates will be deployed, it’s been reported that RP intends to return to the constituencies it had contested back in 2011 and 2015, including Ang Mo Kio GRC, Radin Mas SMC and West Coast GRC. This sets up a potential three-way contest in West Coast GRC as PSP has also hinted at contesting the same ward.

In March this year, ASG Leong hinted that Dr Tan will likely be fielded in West Coast GRC because of his past track record and the "expectation of voters".

The GRC includes the Ayer Rajah ward, where Dr Tan was MP for 26 years.

In a comment to the Straits Times on Tuesdy (Jun 16), RP chairman Andy Zhu said that talks have been held with PSP over their clashing claim in West Coast GRC, but to no avail.

"The older parties have a consensus that we each go back to our old homegrounds, because we are committed and we don't just come and go," he explained.

"This time, because of some new parties who want a foothold in certain GRCs as well, it's led to a more complicated discussion."

WP Pritam Singh: Opposition unity in Singapore 'remains a real challenge'

The idea of a united opposition may make sense intuitively but is challenging in practice because different parties have different philosophies, said Workers' Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh in November last year.

"The reality is that different parties and individuals have different philosophies, both ideologically and in terms of how we engage the issues of the day," he wrote.

"As a small political player in our landscape, the WP must get its political purpose right," he said. "To a large extent, this explains why opposition unity - notwithstanding friendly discussions and relationships amongst opposition members - remains a real challenge."

Referring Mr Singh's comments, GMS said he does not see any difficulty in opposition unity.

"We exist in different parties precisely because we have differences - in style, in vision, in approach or even in policy matters," he said. "It is the diversity we should embrace, not resist."

Leong Mun Wai pulled a 'Raeesah Khan' in Parliament on Telegram hearsay

Jan 13, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
On Tuesday (Jan 11), Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Leong Mun Wai claimed that he received feedback from residents, "that some teachers have already practised vaccination diferentiated safe management measures in schools".

When asked by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing to name the schools and teachers involved, Leong backpedalled and said that the feedback was through Whatsapp and that he would need to ask 'his' residents before making a clarification. He later disclosed that the feedback originated from a Telegram group called SG Concerned Parents.

After a terse exchange between Chan and Speaker of the House Tan Chuan Jin, Leong admitted that the chat group messages did not name any particular schools.

Indranee: When you make allegations against teachers and just cast it out there, you must be able to substantiate it

Leong's response drew a rebuke from Leader of the House Indranee Rajah who admonished Leong for making unsubstantiated claims.

Indranee rose and said: "When you make allegations against teachers and just cast it out there, you must be able to substantiate it. And that is why Minister Chan (had) asked, ‘Please provide me with the details of which school and which teacher so that the Ministry of Education can follow up'.”

She described Leong’s explanation on Tuesday as an attempt to “grandstand” or make broad speeches that have no bearing on the details requested by the Education Minister.

Leong Mun Wai another Raeesah Khan?

In August last year, Raeesah shared an anecdote in Parliament about details of a rape case she alleged was mishandled by the police. She later admitted to lying about the anecdote.

In 2014, Workers' Party MP Faisal Manap also made an unsubstantiated claim alleging that when he was a counsellor, he came across a couple who were having housing issues and advised to file for a divorce by the Housing and Development Board — so that the wife would be eligible to buy a house under the Singles Scheme and she could subsequently remarry her husband.

He later apologised for not verifying the authenticity of his anecdote.