Everything you wanted to know about SDP
This is the third in a series of articles going through the parties contesting in the General Elections.
Now decked up in swag in the form of yellow caps and contentedly licking his free ice cream, our Blur Sotong continues his journey of discovering the various political parties in Singapore.
This logo, which Blur Sotong chose randomly, belongs to the (in)famous Singapore Democratic Party.
1. Blur Sotong: Is that a rocket? Are they Team Rocket then?
Well…you’re close but wrong.
The logo represents a circle (symbolising unity among Singapore’s ethnic groups) behind an arrow (representing political progress in Singapore) in the colour red (signifying courage and determination).
2. Blur Sotong: They seem to have been around for a while?
SDP is one of the oldest active parties, having been formed in 1980 by Chiam See Tong, who served as Potong Pasir MP from 1984 to 2011 – the longest serving Opposition MP. However, he left SDP on bad terms in 1996 after internal disputes within the party in 1993, resulting in Chee Soon Juan taking over Chiam as Secretary-General.
It was Chiam who had recruited him to the party while Chee was a lecturer at NUS.
Chee Soon Juan has run afoul of the Government and the PAP numerous times — he has been jailed for several weeks and was made bankrupt due to defamation charges brought forward against him in 2001 by Goh Chok Tong and Lee Kuan Yew.
In 2012, he was discharged from bankruptcy, allowing him to contest in this election after missing out on the previous two.
Here’s something you might not know, Mr. Sotong: anyone declared bankrupt is deemed ineligible to run for elections.
3. Blur Sotong: What about their ideology?
The SDP has campaigned based on a human rights agenda and has called for alternative policies numerous times. Some similarity can be observed between them and the Reform Party in their ideologies — SDP is also a liberal democratic party.
4. Blur Sotong: What are some of these alternative policies?
- Pay for all health-care expenses through a single pool of funds which the Government contributes 84 percent to, replacing Medisave, Medishield and Medifund.
- An alternative economic programme “that benefits all Singaporeans”.
- Education reforms, including removing the PSLE, delay streaming, scrap school and class rankings, encourage reading, convert all schools to single-session ones (from 8am to 4pm)
- Initiatives to reduce prices of HDB flats
- Lower the amount of foreigners entering Singapore, retain talent, have a ‘Singaporeans First’ Policy (sound familiar?) and reward ministers based on the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) instead of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Addressing the concerns of the Malay population in Singapore, which they believe to be disadvantaged and discriminated against in the current system
- SDP MPs will run Town Councils full-time (presumably to prevent issues such as AHPETC)
- Ministerial salaries to be pegged to poorest 20% of population
- Lower the cost of living for Singaporeans
5. Blur Sotong: Some of their policies resemble those of SingFirst’s.
Tan Jee Say was in SDP before, after all. It is natural that he would have some of the same ideas.
6. Blur Sotong: Where will they be standing in the upcoming general election?
They will be contesting Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Yew Tee-Marsiling GRC, Bukit Batok SMC, Bukit Panjang SMC, and Yuhua SMC. That’s a total of 2 GRCs and 3 SMCs.
Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Bukit Panjang SMC, and Yuhua SMC were places they contested in 2011.
11 candidates will be fielded among these five constituencies.
Let’s have a look at who they are:
- Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General and contesting for the first time since 2001. He takes some credit for making the Government establish a Speakers’ Corner and having a place to protest in Singapore, having made public speeches and holding protests resulting in fines and imprisonments previously. He has authored 12 books; the sales of one was used to pay $30,000 back to Goh Chok Tong and Lee Kuan Yew to discharge him from bankruptcy. Has three children, who feature prominently in his election campaign along with his wife.
- Ms Chong Wai Fung is the Treasurer of SDP, and Administrator of Ren Ci Nursing Home (Moulmein). Her speciality is in public health.
- Mr Khung Wai Yeen is an account manager in a European multinational company. Was previously a Engineering Naval Specialist in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) for eight years before leaving to join the private sector. He initiated contact with SDP after being impressed by the party’s research into alternative policies.
- Dr Paul Tambyah is a Professor of Medicine and Senior Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at a major teaching hospital. He is also a founder member of MARUAH, a human rights organisation which he left in order to contest in the elections this year.
- Ms Jaslyn Go is a sales director in a company she set up with her husband in 2004. She believes that attitude in life > academic qualifications, and is standing in elections to amend the immigration policy in Singapore.
- Mr Sidek Mallek is a Compliance Auditor for a leading security company, and is very concerned with problems low-income families face.
- Mr John Tan Liang Joo is the Vice-Chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party. He is a social psychologist and lecturer teaching Psychology and Statistics for Murdoch University at Kaplan Singapore.
- Mr Bryan Lim is a manager in a local hospital and heads the Party’s Ground Operations unit
- Mr Damanhuri Bin Abas was the Director of Muhammadiyah Islamic College and has managed educational organizations for over a decade. His focus is on the issues Malays in Singapore face.
- Mr Sadasivam Veriyah is an ex-teacher. Interestingly, he was a former PAP member in the early 80s, but felt that the party was not as committed to ordinary people than in the past. He was active in grassroots, participated in various civil organisations, and was Secretary then President of the Singapore Tamil Teachers’ Union back when he was a teacher.
- Dr Wong Souk Yee is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Centre for English Language Communication, National University of Singapore. She was the playwright of Square Moon, a play about detention without trial which draws from real-life close encounters; she was a political detainee for 15 months in 1987 and 1988.
7. Blur Sotong: Here’s the most important question though: do they give out free stuff?
No. That’s not the point of the elections, you know.
8. Blur Sotong: Aww man. Where can I follow them online?
Or perhaps you’d like to donate to their efforts; you can do so here.
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