Timeline of events of the SDP-Chiam saga

Singapore Democrats

1988: Chiam See Tong: “To me, the problems started in 1988, when Wong Hong Toy and about 15 other Workers’ Party members joined the party…there was backbiting and other problems…” Chee Soon Juan joined SDP only in 1992.

1992 (Dec): Chee joins SDP and stands in the Marine Parade by-election.

1993 (May): Chiam resigns as SDP Sec-Gen when CEC doesn’t support him over Chee’s hunger strike. CEC persuades him to stay.

1993 (Jun): CEC announces Chiam’s resignation only one month later after failing to persuade him to stay on as Sec-Gen.

1993 (July): Chiam speaks at Singapore Press Club (SPC) and runs down SDP leadership despite him and other CEC members signing an oath and a deed to “prevent high-ranking (SDP) officials from disparaging the party.” CEC keeps silent about Chiam’s SPC provocation. 

1993 (Aug): CEC convenes disciplinary hearing to let Chiam know that he is not above party discipline. Chiam continues attack. CEC votes to expel Chiam but makes last attempt at reconciliation.

1993 (Aug): Chiam rebuffs SDP’s reconciliation effort. Even then CEC holds back announcement of Chiam’s expulsion for two weeks.

1993 (Aug): Chiam sues SDP and alleges bad faith and malice in expulsion.

1993 (Dec): Court rules that there was no bad faith or malice in the SDP’s actions. Justice Warren Khoo wrote: “It may be fairly said that he brought the disciplinary proceedings and the court action on himself.”

The above events are undisputed and documented in Justice Warren Khoo’s written judgement (read here). Throughout the affair, PAP used the split to attack Dr Chee. 

1994 (Sep): Despite all that had happened, Chee calls Chiam to invite him on an SDP official trip to Australia. Chiam declines.

1997 (Dec): GE called, Chiams leaves SDP and joins SPP.

After the 1997 General Elections, then PM Goh Chok Tong said that Mr Chiam was no threat but had, in fact, been “good” for the PAP as “without him, it would have been more difficult to destroy (Singapore Democratic Party chief) Chee Soon Juan”. (Party sets five goals to win elections in 2002, Straits Times, 12 Jan 1998)   

Note: A copy of Justice Warren Khoo’s Grounds of Decision can be downloaded here.

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