Joint opposition team to use SPP name in Bishan-Toa Payoh

DPP secretary-general Benjamin Pwee distributing fliers at Bishan MRT station. Behind him is SPP central executive committee member Kumar Appavoo. The parties are joining forces to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh.
DPP secretary-general Benjamin Pwee distributing fliers at Bishan MRT station. Behind him is SPP central executive committee member Kumar Appavoo. The parties are joining forces to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Singapore People's Party (SPP) will join forces to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC under the SPP banner in the coming general election.

The decision to use the SPP name is because it has a stronger brand recognition in the GRC, DPP secretary-general Benjamin Pwee said yesterday.

"SPP is still very much identified with Mr Chiam See Tong," he added, referring to the opposition veteran who was Potong Pasir MP for 27 years, and led an SPP team to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in the 2011 General Election.

Both parties are in the process of having lawyers draw up a memorandum of understanding spelling out details of the alliance.

"The document will make it clear that should both parties win, we will run the town council jointly," Mr Pwee told The Straits Times before the two parties held their first joint activity yesterday.

They distributed fliers for about one hour at Bishan MRT station.

Mr Pwee also said the parties are negotiating the composition of the five-member electoral team for the GRC, including how many candidates each side will put up.

They are also drawing up a joint manifesto on the municipal issues at the GRC.

The DPP members at yesterday's Bishan event included three who had contested in earlier elections.

They are: Mr Pwee, 47, and Mr Mohamad Hamim Aliyas, 50, who both contested Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC with Mr Chiam on the SPP ticket in the 2011 election, and former National Solidarity Party member Noraini Yunus, 47, who contested Jurong GRC in 2011.

Mr Pwee also said his party is still trying to work things out to meet election laws, which require all candidates contesting a GRC to be members of the same political party or independent candidates standing as a group. He quit the SPP in 2012, citing differences over the SPP's leadership style and direction.

But yesterday, he said: "The issues that have led to us leaving the SPP were specific to certain issues that have since boiled over. Mrs Chiam is more than happy to bury the hatchet and so are we."

The SPP is led by Mr Chiam, its secretary-general, and his wife Lina, who is the party chairman.

Mrs Chiam has said she will contest Potong Pasir SMC again.

SPP members at the MRT station yesterday included blogger Ravi Philemon, 46, and its central executive committee members Kumar Appavoo, 47, and Williamson Lee, 35.

They declined to say if they would be standing in the GRC.

Mr Kumar said: "I've lived in Bishan North since 2007 and hope to be fielded. But I leave it to the party to decide."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Joint opposition team to use SPP name in Bishan-Toa Payoh'. Print Edition | Subscribe