GE2015: Opposition set to challenge PAP in all 29 electoral divisions

Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan at a walkabout in Bukit Timah on Aug 30.
Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan at a walkabout in Bukit Timah on Aug 30. ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

SINGAPORE - Up to eight opposition parties are expected to take part in the Sept 11 General Election, in what will likely be the first time since Singapore's independence that all seats will be contested.

Opposition party candidates and their supporters gathered early on Tuesday (Sept 1) morning in preparation for Nomination Day. The opposition parties have said they will contest 89 seats in all 29 electoral divisions - 16 group representation constituencies (GRCs) and 13 single-member constituencies (SMCs).

If so, it will be the first time since independence in 1965 that all seats are contested.

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) team, to contest Pasir Ris-Punggol, met at Changi Road to do final checks on their papers at 8.30am.

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan arrived at the party's headquarters with his wife at around 9am.

He refused to say which nomination centre he will be heading to, but he was later seen having breakfast in Bukit Panjang with party members Dr Paul Tambyah, Mr Khung Wai Yeen and Mr Sidek Mallek.

He then walked over to Assumption Pathway School, the nomination centre for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and Bukit Panjang SMC.

Reform Party's (RP) Ang Mo Kio GRC team, led by activist lawyer M. Ravi, gathered at the Coffee Bean at Bishan Junction 8.

The newly-formed People's Power Party (PPP), led by veteran opposition politician Goh Meng Seng, also revealed its line-up for the four-member Chua Chu Kang GRC. They are Mr Goh, 45; finance and administrative manager Low Wai Choo, 55; property consultant Lee Tze Shih, 42; and managing consultant Syafarin Sarif, 39.

A three-cornered fight is on the cards in MacPherson SMC, after the National Solidarity Party confirmed that it will be fielding former MP Cheo Chai Chen, 65, there against PAP incumbent Tin Pei Ling and a Workers' Party (WP) candidate.

Mr Cheo was part of the NSP team that stood in Marine Parade GRC at the 2011 General Election.

Several independent candidates were also spotted, including Mr Zeng Guo Yuan and blogger Han Hui Hui, who are intending to contest in Potong Pasir and Radin Mas SMCs respectively.

While the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has indicated where their candidates will be fielded, opposition parties have largely kept their cards close to their chest.

The WP has said it will contest 28 seats in 10 wards this election. Other than its incumbent MPs in Aljunied GRC, Hougang SMC and Punggol East SMC, it has not revealed where its candidates will stand.

Similarly, SDP has kept mum on where it will field its candidates.

Of particular interest this Nomination Day will be where Dr Chee, the SDP secretary-general, will go. He sat out the 2006 and 2011 elections 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 general election. He was cleared of bankruptcy in 2012.

The party has said that it will field 11 candidates in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, new GRC Marsiling-Yew Tee, and single seats Yuhua, Bukit Batok and Bukit Panjang.

Meanwhile, the Singapore People's Party (SPP) has announced the deployment of all its eight candidates.

For the first time in 39 years, secretary-general Chiam See Tong will not be taking part in the hustings.

Chairman Lina Chiam will stand in Potong Pasir, where her husband Mr Chiam was MP for 27 years. She will face PAP incumbent Sitoh Yih Pin again in a straight fight, after independent candidate Tan Lam Siong announced his decision to withdraw early Tuesday morning.

Mr Ravi Philemon will be standing in Hong Kah North, and Mrs Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss in Mountbatten where she contested in 2011 as a National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate.

The SPP is also fielding a team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. The candidates are former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members Benjamin Pwee and Hamim Aliyas, who resigned from the party and joined the SPP to contest, and SPP members Mr Law Kim Hwee, Mr Abdillah Zamzuri and Mr Bryan Long.

While the NSP has said it will be contesting 12 seats, the party has not introduced its candidates.

The party hosted two meetings to avoid three-cornered fights, but it was unable to come to an understanding with the WP about two wards - Marine Parade GRC and MacPherson SMC.

WP had proposed not contesting in MacPherson if NSP did not stand in Marine Parade, but the offer was rejected by the NSP. The NSP then announced that it would not run in both wards.

Less than two weeks later, it did a U-turn on that decision and said it would run in MacPherson SMC, prompting acting secretary-general Hazel Poa to resign from the party.

NSP council member Steve Chia then declared on Facebook that he was no longer contesting the seat, only to be contradicted by the party, which said again that it will be contesting there.

Meanwhile, the Reform Party (RP) will be challenging Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Its team is led by activist lawyer M. Ravi and comprises blogger Roy Ngerng, entrepreneur Osman Sulaiman, activist Gilbert Goh, infocomm trainer Siva Chandran and former banker Jesse Loo.

PM Lee had successfully sued Mr Ngerng for defamation, with damages to be assessed. Mr Ravi represented Mr Ngerng until he was suspended in mid-February from practising law after concerns about his mental health.

RP is also sending a candidate, Mr Kumar Appavoo, to Radin Mas SMC, while party leader Kenneth Jeyaretnam will lead a team in West Coast GRC, consisting of RP chairman Andy Zhu, real estate firm manager Darren Soh, and customer service executive Noraini Yunus.

Two newly-formed parties helmed by familiar opposition faces will be making their debuts.

The Singaporeans First party, headed by former presidential election candidate Tan Jee Say, will be fielding two teams in Jurong GRC and Tanjong Pagar GRC.

The Singapore Democratic Alliance, led by Mr Desmond Lim, will be contesting Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.