Opposition meeting postponed to Monday

NSP president Sebastian Teo (center, standing) interacts with a resident during a walkabout around Tampines Street 81 on July 26, 2015.
NSP president Sebastian Teo (center, standing) interacts with a resident during a walkabout around Tampines Street 81 on July 26, 2015.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Singapore's opposition parties have postponed their meeting to discuss where they should stand in the coming general election.

The meeting initially scheduled for tomorrow will now be held on Monday, its organiser, the National Solidarity Party (NSP), said in a statement yesterday.

The brief statement did not give a reason for the postponement.

But NSP president Sebastian Teo told The Straits Times he was trying to accede to a request from the Reform Party (RP) for the meeting to be pushed back as two of its key officers are on reservist training.

"We try our best to make sure everyone can attend and get to have their say," he said.

On Tuesday, NSP secretary-general Hazel Poa sent an e-mail to all party leaders asking if they were able to accommodate RP's wishes.

Opposition parties have, in the past few elections, met ahead of the polls to avoid three-cornered fights, which are seen as favourable to the People's Action Party.

RP secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam said he was "grateful that the meeting has been postponed". He added: "We're going forward to fight the election in the spirit of opposition solidarity to ensure all seats are contested so that every Singaporean gets to vote."

In its postponement request posted on Facebook, RP said that "a backroom meeting behind closed doors" was "a denial of the fundamental democratic rights of the citizens".

But Mr Jeyaretnam said he would still attend the meeting, in spite of reservations about its nature, to show cooperation among the opposition.

Other than RP, Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chief Desmond Lim had also asked for the meeting to be on Monday instead.

Mr Lim told The Straits Times that he had an urgent personal matter to attend to on Friday. He declined to elaborate. "I want to thank the organiser for taking our request into consideration and making an effort to ensure that all parties can be present at such an important meeting," he added.

Mr Lim said he will be going to the meeting with two party colleagues and will push to ensure the SDA gets to field its slate in Pasir- Ris Punggol GRC.

Similarly, Democratic Progressive Party secretary-general Benjamin Pwee, who is also attending the meeting, said: "We are encouraged by NSP's willingness to coordinate among the parties so that all can attend. This bodes well for the level of cooperation that is needed for a fruitful session."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Opposition meeting postponed to Monday'. Print Edition | Subscribe