Everything you ever wanted to know about SDP and DPP
This is the fourth in a series of articles going through the parties contesting in the General Elections.
- The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The Reform Party
- The Blur Sotong’s Guide To Singaporeans First
- The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The Singapore Democratic Party
We’ve already covered the party that Opposition stalwart Chiam See Tong formed in 1980, but he left in 1996 to lead a new party separate from the SDP.
Today, we take a look at Chiam’s current party, as well as the party they have joined with to contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC: the Singapore People’s Party and the Democratic Progressive Party, who will be contesting under the SPP banner.
Of course, Blur Sotong is back to ask more questions.
1. Blur Sotong: I heard that Chiam See Tong is the leader, but he wasn’t the founder of the party!
That’s right. SPP was founded by Sin Kek Tong, a pro-Chiam See Tong supporter in the SDP who left after Chiam resigned as Secretary-General.
From 2001 to 2011, the SPP was under the Singapore Democratic Alliance umbrella, which also consisted of the National Solidarity Party (NSP), the Singapore Justice Party (SJP), and the Singapore Malay National Organisation (SMNO).
After Chiam, the leader of the SDA, suffered a stroke in 2008, some in the party felt he was unable to continue serving as chairman. The SPP chose to leave the SDA instead, and run in the 2011 Elections by themselves.
Chiam held Potong Pasir SMC for 27 years, including the times he switched parties. The people did not seem to mind which party he belonged to, it seemed.
However, he left Potong Pasir in 2011 to contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, a move which took many by surprise and signalled his party’s intentions to capture a GRC for the first time in history.
Their gambit failed as they only garnered 39.63% of the vote, and to make matters worse, they also lost Potong Pasir — which was held by Chiam’s wife, Lina.
Lina Chiam accepted a position as a Non-Constituency MP, as her poll results were the highest among opposition candidates who lost in the elections.
2. Blur Sotong: What about the Democratic Progressive Party? Why do they have only two candidates running?
Here’s the funny thing about Benjamin Pwee and Mohamad Hamim Aliyas: they both contested under the SPP banner in 2011, before being invited to join the DPP in 2012 by the party’s founder, Seow Khee Leng (aka Charlie Seow), who was a former member of the Workers’ Party in the 1970s.
Pwee became the Secretary-General but stood down to ‘join’ the SPP, as Election rules dictate that parties may only contest under one banner or stand as independent candidates.
In other words, the two DPP candidates went from SPP, to DPP, and back to SPP again for this election. That’s quite a round-about way of going about things.
3. Blur Sotong: What about their ideology?
As SPP was formed from SDP members, their ideologies are similar; SPP is a liberal democratic party.
Interestingly, Chiam’s grandfather, Chiam Seng Poh, was a revolutionary who assisted Dr Sun Yat-Sen in overthrowing the Qing government.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s ideology was the Three Principles of the People: nationalism, democracy, and welfare.
Meanwhile, the DPP’s aim is to build a society which is “equal and egalitarian to all citizens”.
4. Blur Sotong: What are the policies and proposals being advocated by these two parties?
- Employment: “Singaporeans-first” domestic job market, especially in middle-to-upper management in the civil service and government-linked companies (again with Singaporeans first?)
- Foreign workers: Restrictions to foreign workers in Singapore
- Re-skilling: hands-on apprenticeships especially for middle-aged workers
- SMEs: practical support for SMEs with initiatives such as setting up an SME assistance centre, a job-matching programme, and a revolving loan fund
- Entrepreneurs: policy measures to complement the government’s existing range of solutions, to better help local entrepreneurs start a business and earn a living.
- Central Provident Fund/retirement: a wider range of options and retirement savings programmes that Singaporeans can choose from
- Malay-Muslim issues: identifying and challenging more Malay-Muslim PMETs to step forward as next-generation community leaders, and together find new solutions for the Malay-Muslim community.
The SPP has chosen instead to unveil separate manifestos for each of the constituencies it is contesting in. Currently, one has been shown by Mountbatten candidate, Ms. Jeaneatte Chong-Aruldoss.
- Mountbatten Social Mobility Bursary to help those aged 15 to 21 from lower-income households progress with their education from the ITE to polytechnic, or from polytechnic to university
- Conserve at least three of the 17 low-rise blocks in Dakota Crescent, arguing that heritage should be decided by the people and not “conservation experts and the State”
- Request the Government to release more non-classified information into the public domain, with an eventual goal of enacting a Freedom of Information Act
- Work with food stallholders and government agencies to ensure rental prices are kept affordable
Another, by Ravi Philemon in Hong Kah North SMC, has the following points:
- Two Meet-the-People sessions (MPS) in Gombak and one in Jurong West each week
- Lobby for more bus services
- Top-up the lease of older flats by 30 years
- Push for Singaporeans to have first priority for jobs
- Lobby for unemployment insurance
The team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC has also released their manifesto:
- They want a collaborative government that brings talent from different political parties into Parliament in constructive cooperation
- Responsive town council which will give residents a clean environment conducive to raising families
- Apolitical grassroots representatives that will provide “real feedback” to town councils
- Equal access to government grants plus equal priority for infrastructural upgrading regardless of which party runs them
- They want an economy with affordable costs built on local businesses, owned and run by Singaporeans, and not be squeezed out of the market by Government-linked companies and multi-national corporations
6. Blur Sotong: Where will they be standing in the upcoming general election?
They will be contesting Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC (SPP/DPP), Potong Pasir SMC, Hong Kah North SMC and Mountbatten SMC.
8 candidates will be fielded among these five constituencies – six from SPP and two from DPP.
- Benjamin Pwee (Bishan-Toa Payoh), 47, was in the civil service for 8 years, specifically in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He left to become Executive Director of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) doing social welfare work in China. Later, he became the managing director of a business consultancy firm. He went from being the chairman of the youth wing of PAP in Thomson to joining politics as a member of the SPP, contesting in the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
- Bryan Long (Bishan-Toa Payoh), 37, is a tech entrepreneur. His LinkedIn page url is thehappybryan.
- Mohamad Hamim Aliyas (Bishan-Toa Payoh), 52, is the owner of Hamim International Pte Ltd, an import and export business. A supporter of Chiam See Tong, he joined the SDP in 1987 before leaving in 1994 to form the SPP with Sin Kek Tong. He was a candidate with Benjamin Pwee in 2011, and also stood for elections in 2006 under the SDA. He left SPP in 2011…only to find himself contesting with them again. Life’s strange like that.
- Abdillah Zamzuri (Bishan-Toa Payoh), 31, is an Arts & Education Director and Marketing & Communications Director. He’s also a Certified Professional Trainer, Certified Public Speaking Trainer and a C-VAT Psychometric Consultant. He calls himself an Edupreneur, his focus being on youths, arts and education.
- Law Kim Hwee (Bishan-Toa Payoh), 55, is a former marketing manager and currently director of a business. He appears to have written letters to The Straits Times’ Forum a few times about various issues relating to CPF and the LTA.
- Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss (Mountbatten), 52, is a lawyer and former member and Secretary-General of the National Solidarity Party until this year, when she unsuccessfully ran for President and lost. She left to join SPP afterwards. She’d contested in Mountbatten SMC under the NSP in 2011.
- Ravi Philemon (Hong Kah North) is a blogger at www.raviphilemon.net. He’s a director at Operation Hope Foundation, a charity for the poor in developing countries.
- Lina Chiam (Potong Pasir), 66, is the wife of Chiam See Tong and was an NCMP from 2011 to 2015. She entered politics as her husband was leaving Potong Pasir to contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh. In the run-in to Nomination Day, she pledged that she would contest in Potong Pasir even if Tan Lam Siong decided to contest there as well.
7. Blur Sotong: What if the SPP-DPP coalition fails to win in Bishan-Toa Payoh?
The DPP members will step down from SPP and return to the DPP. If they win, however, they will remain in SPP. Either way, their intention is to serve in Bishan-Toa Payoh for the next five years.
Here’s a quote from DPP’s 2013 Manifesto:
“All jobs should be a source of pride and dignity to the worker, not a source of frustration over low wages and long work hours.”
8. Blur Sotong: Will Chiam See Tong remain in politics?
According to him, yes, but as an advisor instead of candidate due to his age (he’s 80) and for health reasons. He claims that he still has a long way to go, however, indicating that he is not quitting politics.
Our Chiam-pion, indeed.
9. Blur Sotong: Where can I follow them online?
Or perhaps you’d like to donate to SPP; you can do so here.
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Featured image via SPP
With references from Yahoo! News, DPP, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, AsiaOne, Straits Times, Straits Times, Yahoo! News, Wikipedia, Straits Times, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, LTA, Wikipedia, Operation Hope Foundation, TODAY, Straits Times, Straits Times