Opposition Singapore Democratic Party launches campaign for next general election

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan (right) speaks during the SDP GE2015 Campaign Kick-off while party member Bryan Lim (from left), party member James Gomez, assistant treasurer Jaslyn Go, vice chairman John Tan and par
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan (right) speaks during the SDP GE2015 Campaign Kick-off while party member Bryan Lim (from left), party member James Gomez, assistant treasurer Jaslyn Go, vice chairman John Tan and party member Paul Tambyah look on during the panel held on Jan 10, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday launched its campaign for the next general election, saying it would focus on alternative policies and use the slogan: "Your voice in Parliament".

Party chief Chee Soon Juan also said he would run in the election, after sitting out the previous two elections as he was a bankrupt then.

"I am excited about the prospect of leading the SDP into the next election," he said.

The next election has to be called by January 2017, but many expect it to be called at the end of 2015 or early 2016, and the SDP said it had lined up activities in the coming months to publicise its plans.

Speaking at the campaign launch at the Holiday Inn Atrium hotel, Dr Chee urged some 200 supporters to help get him and his party members elected so they can press the Government to back down on policies on the Central Provident Fund Minimum Sum and immigration.

SDP member James Gomez also outlined policies the party had proposed in areas such as education, housing, and health care, which include abolishing the PSLE as well as Medisave, Medifund and Medishield schemes.

National University of Singapore medical professor Paul Tambyah, an SDP volunteer since 2010 and a likely candidate, also said the party needed enough people in Parliament to "deny the ruling party its two-third majority" that had allowed it to amend the Constitution easily.

Dr Chee said: "It has been too long since I've been able to stand as a candidate."

The SDP secretary-general could not contest the 2006 and 2011 elections as he had been declared bankrupt after failing to pay $500,000 in damages for defaming then-senior minister Lee Kuan Yew and then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong during the 2001 election. He was cleared of bankruptcy in 2012, after both men accepted his offer of settlement.

Dr Chee did not want to say where he would stand, but said SDP would contest the same areas it had in 2011: Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Sembawang GRC, and Bukit Panjang and Yuhua SMCs.

It is also looking at constituencies it has actively visited since then, such as Tanjong Pagar and West Coast, but could only be certain how many seats it would contest after the electoral boundaries are redrawn, he added.

The SDP also turns 35 in August and will hold an anniversary dinner on August 1.

Before then, it will launch its economic policy paper next month, a book on Dr Chee in March, and its election manifesto in May.

It will put out a town council management manifesto in June and organise members into constituency committees in July, before introducing potential candidates at a pre-election rally at Hong Lim Park in October.