Verbal sparring

Opposition candidates take jabs at one another

Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam (left) says independent Han Hui Hui (right) has a "creative" approach to truth and that was a prominent factor in his party's decision not to field her.
Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam (above) says independent Han Hui Hui has a "creative" approach to truth and that was a prominent factor in his party's decision not to field her.ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG, KUA CHEE SIONG
Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam (left) says independent Han Hui Hui (right) has a "creative" approach to truth and that was a prominent factor in his party's decision not to field her.
Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam says independent Han Hui Hui (above) has a "creative" approach to truth and that was a prominent factor in his party's decision not to field her.ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG, KUA CHEE SIONG

Members of the opposition took potshots at each other yesterday, as a National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate lambasted the Workers' Party (WP) while the Reform Party (RP) chief lashed out at independent Han Hui Hui.

NSP candidate Cheo Chai Chen called the WP "arrogant" for refusing to cede the MacPherson single-member constituency, resulting in a three-cornered fight.

The 64-year-old must contend with WP new face Bernard Chen, 29, and People's Action Party's (PAP's) Tin Pei Ling, 31, who was Marine Parade GRC MP and is being fielded in MacPherson.

In fliers that he distributed yesterday, Mr Cheo also hammered WP about the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council issue.

He wrote: "Many of us have heard the ruling party highlight the shortcomings of an opposition party that defaulted its town council accounting policies. We are very concerned about this matter.

"If I am mandated by you, we will manage the town council on our own. We will not let the incident of 'TC general manager is also the boss of its contractor' happen."

Speaking during a Pipit Road hawker centre walkabout yesterday, Mr Cheo said NSP's decision to contest MacPherson was not a last-minute one. "Originally Steve Chia was going to contest, then he withdrew and the party fielded me," he said.

The NSP had staked its claim to MacPherson when the ward was split from Marine Parade GRC this election. After initially agreeing to cede it to the WP, it later reversed its decision and was about to field Mr Chia when he pulled out of the race altogether, citing online abuse.

Mr Cheo, an MP for Nee Soon Central from 1991 to 1997, called WP's Mr Chen "young and inexperienced." He said: "This estate has a lot of elderly folks and I feel I can engage with them better."

On the RP side, party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam said Ms Han, 24, who is contesting Radin Mas SMC, has a "creative approach to truth", which was why he did not field her under the RP banner.

He issued a statement on the party's Facebook page yesterday refuting Ms Han's Thursday night rally claim that the RP's candidate for Radin Mas SMC, Mr Kumar Appavoo, lacked assenters on Nomination Day.

Ms Han said that if she had not stood for election, PAP candidate Sam Tan would have had a walkover in Radin Mas SMC.

Mr Jeyaretnam said her statement was "wholly fabricated from start to finish" and Mr Kumar's paperwork was in order.

He also called her a "Socialist Front-sponsored candidate" who tried to cast doubts on RP.

Socialist Front chairman Ng Teck Siong, a former RP chairman, spoke at Ms Han's rally and said she would join his party if elected.

Ms Han, a blogger, is known for organising "Return Our CPF" protests at Hong Lim Park. Three other activists who are also regulars at the Speakers' Corner - lawyer M. Ravi, blogger Roy Ngerng and career counsellor Gilbert Goh - are RP candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Mr Jeyaretnam said the RP believes Ms Han to be brave and he has been supportive of her.

"However, while her bravery, her age and how much she weighs and her need for funds are not in doubt, it was her creative approach to the truth that was a prominent factor in our decision not to field her," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Opposition candidates take jabs at one another'. Print Edition | Subscribe