The candidates: Singapore Democratic Party, Singapore Democratic Alliance

SDA can have national impact, says party chief

The SDA's Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC team members (from left) Arthero Lim Tung Hee, Harminder Pal Singh, Ong Teik Seng, Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, Wong Way Weng and Abu Mohamed at the press conference yesterday. This is the third time the party is contesting
The SDA's Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC team members (from left) Arthero Lim Tung Hee, Harminder Pal Singh, Ong Teik Seng, Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, Wong Way Weng and Abu Mohamed at the press conference yesterday. This is the third time the party is contesting in Pasir Ris-Punggol.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) may be contesting only one ward, but it believes it can have a national impact through the issues it is championing, said party chief Desmond Lim Bak Chuan yesterday.

Speaking as he unveiled the six-member team for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, he said that the party intends to campaign on issues like immigration and the Central Provident Fund.

"This election is about our rights - issues such as the 6.9 million population proposal and our control over our Central Provident Fund money. If we don't fight for our rights, we will lose them. These are genuine issues, echoed by other political parties, and they are not restricted to Pasir Ris- Punggol," he said.

The party's team for the coming elections comprises a mix of new and familiar faces. The three new faces are Mr Ong Teik Seng, 44, a sales director; Mr Abu Mohamed, 64, co-director at an oilfield services company and president of the Singapore Malay National Organisation; and Mr Wong Way Weng, 53, who does quality assurance for a pre-school.

The other team members are Mr Desmond Lim, 47, motivational speaker Harminder Pal Singh, 43, and film-maker Arthero Lim Tung Hee, 60. All three contested in 2011.

This is the third time the party is contesting in Pasir Ris-Punggol. The People's Action Party team helmed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean won in the 2011 General Election with 64.79 per cent of the vote.

Despite its relatively poor showing, Mr Desmond Lim said yesterday the party has an understanding of the local needs and has had an impact both in the ward and nationally.

For example, in 2011, he said SDA proposed to have a hawker centre built in Punggol East and that might have led to a change in government policy. He pointed out that in 2012, the Government announced that it would build new hawker centres, the first ones to be built since 1985.

"As you know, hawker centres are places where we - regardless of (whether we are) rich, poor, or middle income; whether Chinese, Malay or Indian - will sit together. It is where we have an identity as Singaporeans," he said.

For the coming polls, the party also intends to highlight its town council experience, especially at a time when the Workers' Party's town council management is in the spotlight.

Mr Lim worked for 14 years in Potong Pasir Town Council under opposition veteran Chiam See Tong and Mr Singh said a shadow town council team has been trained over the past year and is ready to take charge if the party wins.

The Sept 11 polls will also be a chance at personal redemption for Mr Desmond Lim, who lost his election deposit twice in multi-cornered fights in Punggol East. He won only 4.45 per cent of the vote there in the 2011 General Election and 0.57 per cent of the vote there in the 2013 by-election.

On how he picked himself up after the defeats, Mr Lim said: "A winner never quits and a quitter never wins. We are ordinary people and we will express the voices of ordinary people, which is lacking in Parliament."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'SDA can have national impact, says party chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe