Opposition should have open GE meeting: RP

A poster showing Reform Party candidates contesting in West Coast GRC in the 2011 general election.
A poster showing Reform Party candidates contesting in West Coast GRC in the 2011 general election.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Reform Party (RP) has raised questions about the value of opposition parties having "a backroom meeting behind closed doors" to discuss where they intend to contest in the next general election and how to avoid multi-cornered fights.

A meeting is being hosted on Friday by the National Solidarity Party (NSP). While the RP wants this postponed as two key officers are on reservist training, it said in a Facebook post yesterday that its representatives will attend the meeting.

"Reform Party can hardly demand transparency and accountability of the PAP government while not practising it ourselves. This kind of meeting is a denial of the fundamental democratic rights of the citizens," it said in its post.

It added that it was "unfortunate" the NSP called the meeting "without consultation". "This kind of big show provides all the wrong kind of publicity. How much better to call an open meeting where, for example, every party gets to put forward its manifesto for five minutes. That is what we would call solidarity."

Going by interest expressed, multi-cornered fights look inevitable if a party refuses to budge: Workers' Party, NSP and Singaporeans First are interested in Marine Parade GRC, while the Singapore People's Party and Democratic Progressive Party are eyeing Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and Potong Pasir SMC.

In its post, RP said it has worked hard in Ang Mo Kio GRC, West Coast GRC and Radin Mas SMC. "The opposition has to change its ways. It is not enough to turn up every four or five years for a look-see or a photo opportunity. The residents live there every day, not just when the cameras come out," it said. "Fielding a weak candidate in a Single Member Constituency has a hugely negative impact on the statistics for the total percentage of voters who vote opposition."

NSP president Sebastian Teo said last night that almost all parties have responded, and the meeting will not be postponed. Mr Teo said if RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam is unable to attend, RP can send its requests to him and he will raise these on its behalf at the meeting.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Opposition should have open GE meeting: RP'. Print Edition | Subscribe