GE2015: People's Action Party 'doing as it pleases' without effective opposition like the SDP, says Chee Soon Juan

SDP chief Chee Soon Juan speaking at his party's lunchtime rally outside UOB Plaza in Raffles Place.
SDP chief Chee Soon Juan speaking at his party's lunchtime rally outside UOB Plaza in Raffles Place. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - There is no effective opposition like the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in Parliament to check on the People's Action Party (PAP), which is "doing as it pleases", said SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, as he cited what he describes as failed or questionable decisions by sovereign wealth fund GIC and investment company Temasek Holdings.

These examples include investments of about S$4 billion each by Temasek in debt-ridden commodities trader Olam International last year and with other investors for Thai telecommunications conglomerate Shin Corp in 2006.

"The Government accuses us (SDP) of coming up with policies of tax and spend, but what they will do is take our reserves and make failed investments," Dr Chee said on Monday (Sept 7) afternoon at the party's fifth rally outside UOB Plaza in Raffles Place, and the first lunchtime rally of the election campaign.

"(Without effective opposition in Parliament) to check on the PAP, the PAP does as it pleases, making dangerous, wrong decisions without proper scrutiny and accountability."

The last Parliament had seven elected opposition MPs from the Workers' Party, which also had two out of the three Non-Constituency MPs in the House.


As at the SDP's previous rallies, Dr Chee noted the PAP government's additional $4 billion planned for healthcare spending, which the Government announced earlier this year and made a "big song and dance over".

The PAP's announcement of the plan came only after the SDP pointed out the limited amount of healthcare expenditure the Government was footing, or about 30 per cent, said Dr Chee.

He is one of the SDP's 11 candidates and is standing in his first election since the 2001 polls, after being barred from the 2006 and 2011 elections for bankruptcy.

"$4 billion might sound like a lot, but it's the same amount of money Temasek Holdings offered in 2014 in a highly questionable investment in Olam International, a debt ridden company. Market watchers and investors almost across the board decried the move," said Dr Chee, who is leading a four-member team in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

"(The sum) is also the amount that Temasek paid, if you remember, for Shin Corp. It was an investment that ultimately ended up in smoke."

He added that GIC and Temasek had said they recorded significant losses of several billions in investments in Westerns banks like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Barclays during the 2008 global financial crisis.

In the meantime, Singapore hospitals face repeated shortages of beds and have to put patients in corridors and makeshift tents, added Dr Chee.

"Some of you may have experienced it yourself, bringing elderly parents to the hospital. Some of you may have had to wait, sometimes up to a day for them to be admitted to get a bed in a ward.

"Priorities!" he said, echoing a Facebook post sign-off on Thursday, on the same issue about government's investment decisions.