Reform Party notes that SDP have announced their intention to field Dr Chee Soon Juan as their candidate of choice for the by-election in Bukit Batok.
Reform Party believes that Dr Chee will be a formidable opponent and represents the strongest opportunity for putting an alternative party’s voice into parliament. We note that conditions are particularly in favour of an opposition win: this is a by-election for an SMC and therefore the voters will not be afraid of upsetting the balance of the overwhelming PAP majority, there is likely to be a rebound from the PAP’s record share of the vote in GE2015 and Dr Chee’s personal story of resilience will resonate with the voters and indeed he has been warmly received on the ground so far.
In addition SDP has experience of the area having contested the SMC in GE 2015 and is familiar to the older voters since it ran the town council in the adjacent Bukit Gombak SMC from 1991 to 1997.
Although Reform Party’s policies differ from the SDP’s (in particular we do not believe that raising taxes is necessary, that the defence budget needs cutting or that selling HDB at cost would be advisable) we do share very similar views on equality and the restoration of human rights and in particular freedom of expression. More than this Reform Party believes that diversity and competition of ideas is vital for Parliament to function well and is essential if Singapore is to become a robust democracy that can weather the current and worsening recession.
In addition to this message of support RP’s Secretary General Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam has over the past week personally called the leaders of the Opposition Parties to request that they come together to issue a joint statement of support for Dr Chee. Reform Party wishes SDP well in the upcoming by-election and hopes that they will be successful.
Finally, no by-election should be discussed without reference to the human rights champion M. Ravi and the incredibly brave Singaporean citizen Madam Vellama who at great personal cost took the government to court and single-handedly won the rights for all our citizens to expect a by election within a reasonable time frame. In previous years we would have been left wondering whether there actually would be a by election or not.
This historic and unique ruling by the courts fettered the previously unfettered powers which our Prime Minister believed to be his right due to an unchallenged precedent set by his late father Lee Kuan Yew. Nothing more clearly demonstrates the need for a strong check on the executive than this ruling which limits the Prime Minister’s discretion in favour of his citizens’ rights. The need for a strong check on a duly accountable executive is a cornerstone of the Reform Party’s objectives as drawn up by our founder J B Jeyaretnam and is a role which we believe the SDP will ably fulfil in Parliament .