Opposition needs to unite

April 7, 2002
Singapore Democrats

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7 April 2002

I am very grateful to you and your party for what you have done in the political scene of Singapore. I greatly admire your courage in the fight for democracy, and I would give you my praise.

However, I am concerned about your relationship between the other opposition parties and leaders. I understand that Chiam See Tong was the founder of the SDP, and that you have strained relations with him due to the leadership of the SDP.

I give respect to all opposition parties and leaders and take a neutral stand on this, but I feel that in order to unite the opposition, you would have to patch up with Mr Chiam.

The fact that Mr Chiam See Tong spoke against you when brought up the Indonesia loan issue during the 2001GE proves that it has not been resolved. I do not have much to comment about what you did, but that is not a good sign to the opposition.

I would be interested to know what you have to say about this, Dr Chee, and I would like to wish you the best in your political struggle.

Mr Lau

SDP: The SDP concurs with Mr Lau about a united opposition. In our manifesto Dare To Change, Dr Chee wrote: It would make much sense [for the SDP and WP] to pool their resources together with the ultimate and overriding objective to entrench the Opposition in Singapore politics.

To show that we meant what we said, the SDP signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the PKMS in 1995. Other opposition parties were invited to the signing ceremony where the SDP called for other opposition parties to sign the MOU as well.

Dr Chee and Mr Jeyaretnam, then secretary-general of WP, had visited the United States together in 1999 and later co-operated to form the Open Singapore Centre. The initiative is further evidence of the SDP willing to work closer with other opposition parties.

At the last GE, the SDP stood by its stand and called for voters to vote in all 29 opposition candidates even though Mr Chiam See Tong changed his mind mid-way through the campaign and called for voters to support only his party.

On the matter of the Indonesian loan, the SDP raised the issue because it concerned huge amounts of funds that belonged to the public. Whether other opposition parties support or criticize the SDP’s stand should not deter us from raising issues of intense national interest.

The SDP opens its meetings and activities to members of other opposition and NGOs. We do this because we believe that a party grows when there is participation from the bottom the up, not direction from the top down.

The SDP has said it before and will say it again: We stand ready to cooperate with any opposition party to bring about democracy to our nation. However, as from the recent comments made by the National Solidarity Party following the resignation of one of its leaders, it is clear that opposition unity still has some ways to go.

While the SDP respects the views of other opposition parties on the best strategy to adopt in the fight for democracy, we must also do what we believe is right and to bring out the issues we believe must be raised regardless of how other opposition parties feel.

The PAP defines and controls almost every facet of life in Singapore. It would be dangerous for the ruling party to do the same with the Opposition.