Where we came from

February 22, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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The Singapore Democratic Party was formed on 6 August 1980 with Mr Fok Tai Loy the founding chairman and Mr Chiam See Tong the founding secretary-general. Two months later on 19 October, the Party unveiled its emblem: the Arrow representing political progress and Circle symbolizing unity among the country’s ethnic groups. The colour red signifies courage and determination. The Party was officially inaugurated on 21 September 1981.

In 1984 Mr Chiam was elected in Potong Pasir, a seat he had held till 2011. Among his PAP opponents were Mr Mah Bow Tan (now national development minister), Mr Andy Gan, and Mr Sitoh Yi Pin. That same year, the Party launched its newsletter Demokrat. It also saw the passing away of Mr Fok Tai Loy and the election of lawyer, Mr Ling How Doong, as Party chairman.

In 1986, a few of the Party’s leaders, including Mr Soon Kia Seng (Assistant Secretary-General) and Mr Peter Lim Ah Yong (Treasurer), resigned their posts with Mr Soon accusing some of his colleagues as not sincerely believing in democracy: “This is not a party I once knew. I am willing to serve a cause but I don’t want to serve individuals.”

In 1991, Mr Ling How Doong and Mr Cheo Chai Chen won their electoral contests in the Bukit Gombak and Nee Soon Central constituencies respectively.

The Party contested the Marine Parade by-elections in December 1992 called for by then-prime minister, Mr Goh

Chok Tong, in his own GRC. Dr Chee Soon Juan joined the SDP as part of the contesting team with Mr Low Yong Nguan, Mr Ashleigh Seow (Mr Francis Seow’s son) and Mr Mohd Shariff.

Following the election in 1993, Dr Chee was sacked by the National University of Singapore where he was a Lecturer. Dr Chee went on a hunger strike as a mark of protest. He was subsequently sued by his department head, Dr S Vasoo, faculty dean, Dr Ernest Chew, and secretary, Ms Janice Chen, when he disputed his sacking.

Mr Chiam first supported Dr Chee’s action but later changed his mind and called for the Party to censure his the assistant secretary-general (Dr Chee was elected to the post in February 1993). None of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) members supported Mr Chiam’s motion whereupon the Party leader tended his resignation, citing that he had lost the confidence of his colleagues.

A few of the CEC members, including Dr Chee, tried to persuade Mr Chiam to remain as secretary-general. However, Mr Chiam stated that he would do so only if he could be granted the power to appoint and dismiss the Party’s cadre members. He also wanted the removal of Mr Wong Hong Toy as vice-chairman.

Under the Party’s constitution a simple majority of the CEC was needed to appoint cadre members, not any one individual leader. The CEC did not have the constitutional power to accede to Mr Chiam’s demands. A few weeks later, Mr Chiam gave a speech at the Singapore Press Club attacking the Party’s leadership. It was only then that the CEC voted to expel him.

The Press Club had extended a similar invitation to Dr Chee to counter Mr Chiam. Knowing that the PAP-controlled media had every intention to fan the flames Dr Chee declined the invitation. But when he subsequently informed the organizers that he would speak but on the Party’s alternative policy ideas instead of the altercation with Mr Chiam, the Press Club withdrew the invitation.

Mr Chiam sued the CEC for wrongful dismissal and won. He remained with the Party until the 1997 general elections when he resigned to form another party.

In 1994, the SDP published Dare To Change: An Alternative Vision for Singapore and adopted the book, written by Dr Chee as its manifesto. The following year, Dr Chee was elected Secretary-General.

The Party also amended its constitution to update its objectives and changed the name of its newspaper to The New Democrat.

In 1997 Mr Ling and Mr Cheo lost their seats in the general elections. In the 2001 elections, Dr Chee was sued by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong over Singapore’s secretive loan-pledge to Indonesia’s Suharto in 1997. Summary judgment was award to the plaintiffs, depriving him of a trial. Dr Chee was ordered to pay a total of $500,000 in damages.

In 2007, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong sued the Party as well as the members of the CEC for defamation over an article published in The New Democrat about the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) scandal. This happened after the Party announced that it would contest Mr Khaw Boon Wan’s team in the Sembawang GRC and to make the NKF matter its campaign issue. Mr Khaw is the health minister in charge of the NKF.

An injunction was ordered by the Courts that prevented the SDP from speaking about the issue during the campaign. Summary judgment was again awarded to the plaintiffs. As of the writing of this history in Mar 08, costs and damages have yet to be determined.

Mr Ling resigned as chairman in 2007 which also saw Mr Gandhi Ambalam elected as the Party’s third chairman. Mr Jufrie Mahmood was elected the Party’s fourth chairman in 2011. The current chairman is Mr Jeffrey George who was elected in the Ordinary Party Conference held in 2013.

MPs from SDP:

Mr Chiam See Tong, MP (Potong Pasir, 1984-1994) & founding secretary-general

Mr Ling How Doong, MP (Bukit Gombak, 1991-1997)

Mr Cheo Chai Chen, MP (Nee Soon Central, 1991-1997)

新加坡民主党成立于1980年8月6日。党创始人是党主席,Fok Tai Loy 先生以及党秘书长,詹时中先生。新加波民主党在10月19日公布了党徽:箭头代表政治进步,圆形象征国家民族团结,红色象征勇气与决心。新加坡民主党于1981年9月21日正式宣誓就职.

在1984年,詹先生当选为波东巴西区议员,并担任此职位至2011年。他在历届选举中成功地击败了人民行动党的马宝山先生,颜来章先生以及司徒宇斌先生。党刊”民主主义者”也在同年首次发行。 党创始人Fok Tai Loy先生因病逝世,党主席一职由律师林孝谆先生接任。

在1986年,Soon Kia Seng先生 (副秘书长) 以及 Peter Lim Ah Yong 先生(党财政)率领几名党领袖同时辞去党职位。Soon先生指某些党员不是诚心坚信民主主义,并指责:”新加坡民主党已经不是我当初所认同的团体。我愿意为民主的誓言效劳但不会崇拜个体。”


新加坡民主党在1992年12月参加了当时的总理吴作栋先生在自己所属的马林百列选区所进行的补选。徐顺全博士也在当时加入了新加坡民主党,并与刘永源先生、Ashleigh.萧 (萧天寿之子) 和沙里夫穆哈莫组成民主党的竞选团队。

在1993年的大选后,徐博士遭新加坡国立大学解雇。徐博士因不满无理的对待,而绝食抗议。事后,他的部门主任华素博士、 系主任Ernest.丘博士以及部门秘书Janice.陈因徐博士不满解雇的理由,而把他告上法院。








在1997年, 林孝谆先生与蒋才正先生在选举中失去了议员职位。在2001年的大选中,徐博士因指责李光耀先生与吴作栋先生在1997年秘密贷款给印尼的苏哈多政府,而被告上法院。徐博士被剥夺审判的过程,并被令支付五十万的赔偿金。




林孝谆先生 (武吉甘柏议员,1991至1997年)

Watch videos of SDP’s 30 years of democratic services in Singapore:

Democracy – Let’s Do it!

SDP’s 30th Anniversary Dinner