Dr Chee Soon Juan has written to Associate Professor Bilveer Singh of the National University of Singapore (NUS) to clarify points that the academic had written in his book Politics and Governance in Singapore. The book is being used to teach a political science module and a student in that class had brought this to Dr Chee’s attention through his Facebook.
Prof Singh wrote that Dr Chee had ousted Mr Chiam from the SDP. This is untrue. Dr Chee has written an extensive rebuttal to this point and he urged the NUS political scientist to revise the text in his book to “accurately reflect the facts.”
Dr Chee has also asked to meet Prof Singh in order to present his side of the story. He has also asked to attend the academic’s class to clear up the misconception.
The SDP secretary-general added that it was important for Dr Singh to revise the contents in his book as the text is being used to teach undergraduate students and, as such, the views and observations need to “stand the most rigorous tests of accuracy.”
Associate Professor Bilveer Singh
Department of Political Science
National University of Singapore
It has come to my attention that in one of your books Politics and Governance in Singapore you had documented that I had ousted Mr Chiam See Tong from the Singapore Democratic Party.
Specifically, you had written:
This prominent and popular leader (Mr Chiam) of the opposition party has worked hard to present a credible alternative to the PAP. However, he has not always been successful in this endeavor. He left the Singapore Democratic Party following the challenge by Dr Chee Soon Juan.
…Some of the leading opposition political parties are ‘wracked by internal dissension.’ A case in point includes the ousting of the most senior opposition member, Chiam See Tong from his post in the SDP by a then relative novice, Chee Soon Juan.
I wish to point out that this is a wholly inaccurate observation and conclusion. In 1993, Mr Chiam resigned as secretary-general after being out-voted by the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) on a motion to censure me.
Following his resignation CEC members, including me, made repeated visits to Mr Chiam to persuade him not to resign. Mr Chiam, however, made demands that were unacceptable and unconstitutional, including the power to appoint and dismiss CEC and cadre members.
When his resignation was finally announced, Mr Chiam gave a talk at the Singapore Press Club where he attacked his fellow party leaders.
A disciplinary hearing was convened where the CEC needed to impress upon Mr Chiam that every member had to abide by party rules, and that he was not above disciplinary measures if he did not observe these rules. The CEC had no intention of expelling him.
But Mr Chiam continued with his belligerent attitude during the hearing. This left the CEC no choice but to vote to expel him from the party. Even after the expulsion vote was taken, however, CEC members called Mr Chiam up to seek reconciliation. These overtures were rebuffed by Mr Chiam.
I have recounted these happenings in a four-part series which can be read here:
Part 1: The truth about Chiam See Tong’s departure
Part 2: Chiam’s expulsion – What really happened?
Part 3: Goh Chok Tong – Without Chiam, harder to destroy Chee
Part 4: Taking the SDP forward
I have relied on documented evidence, much of which are based on testimony deposited in court during the hearing when Mr Chiam sued the SDP after his dismissal. The points raised in my articles are referenced.
As a political scientist, I am sure that you consider factual accuracy a premium. Unfortunately, what you have written in the above cited paragraphs is not a faithful representation of events in 1993.
As your textbook is used to teach undergraduate students, I am certain you would want to be the purveyor of views and observations that would stand the most rigorous tests of accuracy. As such, it is important for you to revise the contents in your textbook to accurately reflect the facts.
As you have not interviewed me before even though you have written about me, I would like to meet with you, perhaps over lunch or a cup of coffee, to present to you what really took place in 1993.
I would also be happy to come to your class and give a presentation to your students on this matter.
As the matter is of public interest, I am posting this email on the SDP’s website yoursdp.org. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party