Bukit Batok by-election

Chiams weigh in on Chee

Mrs Chiam (left) urged people to read the second volume of Mr Chiam's (below, left) biography "to get a balanced perspective of the whole SDP saga".
Mrs Chiam (above) urged people to read the second volume of Mr Chiam's biography "to get a balanced perspective of the whole SDP saga".
Mrs Chiam (left) urged people to read the second volume of Mr Chiam's (below, left) biography "to get a balanced perspective of the whole SDP saga".
Mrs Chiam urged people to read the second volume of Mr Chiam's (above) biography "to get a balanced perspective of the whole SDP saga".

Singapore Democratic Party founder Chiam See Tong and his wife Lina have taken issue with an account of their 2011 meetings with current SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, with Mrs Chiam saying yesterday that it "needs clarification".

In an e-mail to The Straits Times, Mrs Chiam said she wanted to set things straight as the account in the SDP's 2015 newsletter, The New Democrat, was being circulated during the opposition party's walkabout in Bukit Batok.

"Hence our objection as there was an understanding that the details of the meetings should be kept confidential if the whole thing fizzled out. We kept (our) side of the bargain," she said, responding to queries about an article by political scientist Derek da Cunha on news site six-six.com yesterday.

Dr da Cunha had given a different take on the talks from SDP, saying he had communicated with the Chiams, who "do not wish to be used to further one man's political ambitions". Mr Chiam was a one-time mentor to Dr Chee before he was ousted from SDP in the 1990s. He went on to set up the Singapore People's Party.

SDP supporter Wong Wee Nam had written in the party's newsletter about the 2011 meetings, in which he said Dr Chee had tried to bring Mr Chiam back to the party.

Dr da Cunha said this was a distorted version of the talks. Quoting Mrs Chiam, he saidSDP had proposed to have Mr Chiam return as honorary chairman, essentially as a figurehead.

"Given the condition that the proposal had to be accepted within one week, among other terms, it was a non-starter," Dr da Cunha wrote, citing Mrs Chiam. He added that this approach of "making proposals which are really empty gestures... has been a consistent approach of the SDP under Dr Chee's leadership".

He also said the Chiams and Dr Chee had not reconciled.

Asked about this, Mrs Chiam said yesterday Dr da Cunha's article had "all the facts pertaining to the (meeting)". She urged people to read the upcoming second volume of Mr Chiam's biography "to get a balanced perspective of the whole SDP saga... before making any conclusions".

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2016, with the headline 'Chiams weigh in on Chee'. Print Edition | Subscribe