[The Straits Times] GE 2011: Chee ‘invited me to return to SDP’ (19 Apr 2011)

GE 2011: Chee ‘invited me to return to SDP’
by Jeremy Au Yong 
The Straits Times
Apr 19, 2011 

THEY are old adversaries, but a few months ago, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan invited his former mentor Chiam See Tong to return to the party he founded, the latter revealed yesterday.

‘He gave a very good deal. ‘Mr Chiam, we have always respected you as the founder of SDP. In all our parties, we always have a big sign, ‘Welcome Mr Chiam, founder of SDP’,’ said Mr Chiam, who declined the offer.

‘And he asked me to join the party and stand in a GRC with them, and we take you as a leader and founder of SDP.’

Mr Chiam added: ‘The offer was to have a high position in the party, and he publicly recognises me as the founder of SDP.’

Dr Chee yesterday declined to comment on the surprising turn of events.

The offer is a sign of how far the relationship has come since the public falling out in the early 1990s.

In 1993, Mr Chiam resigned as SDP secretary-general over differences with the party’s central executive committee (CEC). His then protege, Dr Chee, took over as acting head.

Mr Chiam was later expelled from the party by the CEC, a decision he challenged in court. The court ruled that the sacking was illegal, and Mr Chiam was reinstated.

He left the SDP for the Singapore People’s Party in 1996. From then, ties have been strained.

In an interview last year, however, Dr Chee maintained that he bore no ill-will towards Mr Chiam.

He had reportedly said: ‘I bear no grudges against Chiam See Tong and even attended the dinner to mark his 25th year as an MP (in 2009). I would greet him if we happen to meet.’

Still, it is clear Mr Chiam was not comfortable with reuniting with his former nemesis. He said he was not sure he could work with Dr Chee again.

‘He has got ideas; a dynamic person. He tells me he has changed and the party is well organised, but their whole philosophy and style of governing have not changed,’ he said.

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