Bukit Batok by-election

'A mountain to climb and we will'

The Singapore Democratic Party's Dr Chee (left) with party vice-chairman John Tan. The SDP chief said he is confident and looking forward to the Bukit Batok by-election battle.
The Singapore Democratic Party's Dr Chee (left) with party vice-chairman John Tan. The SDP chief said he is confident and looking forward to the Bukit Batok by-election battle.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Dr Chee Soon Juan, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief and candidate for the upcoming Bukit Batok by-election, yesterday described the contest as a "mountain to climb", and said he was confident.

In a call for volunteers put up on Facebook barely two hours after the Writ of Election was issued, he wrote: "We've got a mountain to climb and we will climb it. I'm looking forward to it."

Dr Chee, 53, has been actively making his presence felt in Bukit Batok since People's Action Party MP David Ong resigned on March 12 over an alleged affair.

His campaigning has taken him to Housing Board flats, kopitiams and even the Bukit Batok Nature Park, where he went for a run last weekend.

His team has also knocked on every door in the single-member constituency, and is going for a second round, he told The Straits Times two weeks ago. "We are in it to win. We want to make sure that we put in maximum work," he had said.

  • 2nd bid in 8 months

  • The chief of the Singapore Democratic Party, Dr Chee Soon Juan, is making his second bid in eight months to get into Parliament.

    The 53-year-old had led a four-man team to contest Holland-Bukit Timah GRC in last year's general election but got 33 per cent of the vote.

    That was his first electoral contest in more than 10 years. He could not contest in 2006 and 2011 as he was a bankrupt. He was discharged as a bankrupt in 2012.

    Dr Chee, who is married with two daughters and a son, was a psychology lecturer.

    He entered politics in the 1992 Marine Parade by-election, which he lost in a four-cornered fight.

    He writes on his Facebook page that he "has been arrested and imprisoned more than a dozen times for political activities".

    He no longer appears to adopt his brand of adversarial politics. At last year's polls, he pledged to find common ground and work with the ruling People's Action Party.

Dr Chee has launched a campaign slogan, Now Is The Time, and his team also relies heavily on technology and social media to live-stream press conferences and post videos. He has assembled a four-man team that acts as a resource panel to advise the party on town council issues in the first 100 days if the SDP wins at the polls.

He said this showed the party has been making preparations "well in advance so we do not waste a single minute" if it wins and has to take over the town council. Bukit Batok is now managed by the Jurong-Clementi Town Council.

Among the four members of the team are lawyer Peter Low, 65, who will provide legal advice, and accountant Wong Hong Koon, 75, who will oversee financial issues.

The other two are Mr Yeo Yeu Yong, 67, who will be in charge of estate management, and Mr K. Siva Sankaran, 60, who will help with the handover of projects.

Dr Chee stressed last month that the productive management of the town council was a key priority, and the SDP's goal was "to surpass current levels of performance of PAP-run town councils".

Also, it would not engage a managing agent, and full-time staff will be hired for day-to-day operations, he had said.

Should he be elected, he said some of the most pressing issues he would raise in Parliament are retrenchment concerns amid a slowing economy, rising cost of living, and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Minimum Sum scheme.

The SDP will also launch municipal initiatives to foster a community and "raise the quality of life of residents", he added.

"A lot depends on our own fight, our own strategy rather than it being a by-election," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline ''A mountain to climb and we will''. Subscribe