PAP rallies

Tambyah's wish for split in PAP draws flak from candidates

SDP's Holland-Bukit Timah GRC candidate Paul Tambyah speaking during a lunchtime rally at UOB Plaza promenade on Sept 7.
SDP's Holland-Bukit Timah GRC candidate Paul Tambyah speaking during a lunchtime rally at UOB Plaza promenade on Sept 7.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Paul Tambyah's stated wish for a split in the People's Action Party (PAP) came under fire from his opponents in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC last night.

At the SDP's lunchtime rally yesterday, Professor Tambyah called Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam the most brilliant of the current ministers, and said "many of us in the alternative parties... hope that, one day, DPM Tharman will have a falling-out with PM and will come out to lead a grand coalition of opposition parties - Pakatan Rakyat Singapura - to present a real alternative to the current PAP Government".

Last night, PAP candidate Christopher de Souza fired back, saying: "I ask the discerning voter, watching this tonight, do you think that seeking division in Cabinet is a responsible desire?"

It is not, he said at his party's rally next to Commonwealth MRT station. "It is a serious misjudgment to desire such discord."

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, anchor minister in the PAP slate, said Prof Tambyah's comment "reveals the mentality, the mindset, and the attitude that they have to politics".

"I have just one message to send to the SDP: In the PAP, we do not have a tradition of backstabbing our mentors," he said, to cheers from the crowd. It was a shot at SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, who ousted veteran opposition politician Chiam See Tong from the SDP - a party Mr Chiam himself had founded.

The PAP does not have that tradition because "if... you offer yourself as a leader within the PAP, it's not about you", added Dr Balakrishnan. "It's about Singapore first, party second."

Dr Chee also came under attack from PAP candidate Sim Ann, who criticised his "unreasonable" behaviour in her Mandarin speech.

He likes to "make rules for others" such as not allowing anyone to bring up his past, even when it is common knowledge, she said.

Last Tuesday, Ms Sim noted how Dr Chee had "kicked" Mr Chiam out of the SDP in 1993, while Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong pointed out in a TV forum that Dr Chee had given false information in 1996 to a parliamentary committee on healthcare subsidies of polyclinics and public hospitals.

Last night, Ms Sim said Dr Chee's tactics included calling himself names, then claiming the insults came from others. She was referring to Dr Chee's claim that if the PAP could not convince voters, its members would call him "a liar, a gangster, a psychopath", even though neither Ms Sim nor Mr Wong had done so.

The SDP does all this to distract voters from their policy proposals which will not benefit the people, concluded Ms Sim.

Janice Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Tambyah's wish for split in PAP draws flak from candidates'. Print Edition | Subscribe