The SDP will continue our work of presenting voters with a united and competent opposition platform. Such a measure will boost Singaporeans’ confidence in the opposition.
The victory of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) in Malaysia has brought renewed hope for democracy in Singapore with Singaporeans calling for the opposition here to also form a united team for the next elections.
But while unity in the opposition camp is desirable, it is important to note that there are significant differences between the Singaporean and Malaysian political scenes that make a replication of PH-like success in Singapore improbable in the immediate term.
One of these is that before the PH, or even its predecessor Pakatan Rakyat, was formed, Malaysians had voted in MPs from Parti KeAdilan Rakyat (led by Mr Anwar Ibrahim) and Democratic Action Party (led by Mr Lim Kit Siang and later Mr Lim Guan Eng). These parties subsequently worked together towards forming an alliance.
In other words, they learned to walk before they ran.
Similarly, Singaporeans must vote for the SDP even before a formal coalition comes about. With the SDP in Parliament, our position will be enhanced, and with greater leverage we will make it our priority to work with other opposition parties to form a common and viable platform.
This does not mean, however, that the opposition does nothing for the moment. For the record, the SDP has been working towards greater opposition cooperation.
In 1996, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura (photo above) with both parties contesting the 1997 GE under one ticket. We had invited other parties to participate in the pact.
We called on opposition parties to come together under the Forum of Democratic Leaders in the Asia Pacific (Singapore Chapter) in the 1990s and for opposition parties to collaborate for the 2001 GE.
Apart from elections, Dr Chee Soon Juan and then Workers’ Party Secretary-General Mr J B Jeyaretnam formed the Open Singapore Centre to advocate democratic accountability and free and fair elections in Singapore.
After the 2015 GE, we attempted to arrange private meetings to explore the possibility of opposition parties working closer.
The SDP will continue our efforts to find common ground among the among the opposition and meet Singaporeans’ hope and desire to see a united alternative to the PAP.
To this end, Singaporeans can count on the SDP.