At a working lunch hosted by the SDP this afternoon, several opposition parties came together to explore the possibility of working closer together to present a unified front at the next elections.
The SDP also took the opportunity to propose that presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock help lead the effort in building such a coalition. Those present welcomed the move.
“With his experience and leadership,” Dr Chee Soon Juan said, “the SDP is confident that Dr Tan will be able to lead the effort.”
The former PAP MP, who attended the meeting as an observer, said: “If you want me to lead, then we must think of country first. If we go in, we must go in as a team.”
The luncheon saw leaders and representatives of various opposition parties express their enthusiasm in greater cooperation with one another.
Mr Lim Tean, leader of the People’s Voice said that while the exact form of such cooperation remains to be worked out, it is important that there be a more centralised form of leadership.
This sentiment was echoed by People’s Power Party’s Secretary-General Mr Goh Meng Seng who added that without discipline, such a coalition equals trouble.
Mr Ben Pwee, Democratic Progressive Party pointed out that whatever differences parties had in the past must be submerged. “There must not be ego politics within such a framework,” he said.
Other parties present were the Reform Party, National Solidarity Party, and Singaporeans First Party.
For the SDP, Dr Chee said that the party “was excited about the prospect of making a historic advancement in Singapore’s politics by forging a competent and credible oppositional force” with like-minded parties.
But he sounded a word of caution. He told participants that the cooperation cannot just be in form and not substance. “If it is merely the former, then it will be a matter of time before the electorate finds us wanting and repudiates the effort.”
Dr Chee also warned that there will be powerful forces that will do their utmost to ensure that our effort fails and that the opposition remains divided and dysfunctional. “We must ensure that they do not succeed,” he said.
As to SDP’s contribution, he assured those present of the party’s cooperation in making the endeavour a success. However, the Singapore Democrats do not seek to spearhead the effort.
“Rather, we see our role as a facilitator, of doing our part to contribute towards a common and greater good,” he said.
He then took the opportunity to propose that Dr Tan Cheng Bock undertake the task of leading the effort and called on him to initiate future steps.
Dr Chee concluded: “On the eve of our 53rd National Day, we are presented with the an opportunity to take Singapore forward into a promising future. May we all have the wisdom to seize it and act with moral clarity and good sense.”
The SDP also proposed a joint resolution to be signed by all opposition parties and invited everyone to consider endorsing it.