SINGAPORE - The Singapore People's Party (SPP) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have finally unveiled the final five members of their joint team for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, more than three weeks after the two parties agreed to partner up to contest the constituency.
They are DPP chief Benjamin Pwee, 47, and chairman Hamim Aliyas, 50, who have both resigned from the party and joined the SPP to enable them to be fielded. Their teammates are SPP members Law Kim Hwee, 55, a former marketing manager, training company manager Abdillah Zamzuri, 31, and tech entrepreneur Bryan Long, 37.
Mr Pwee and Mr Long will co-lead the team, said SPP chairman and Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam following a walkabout at Toa Payoh Lorong 8 on Sunday (Aug 30) morning.
"We believe they are a strong team," added Mrs Chiam.
Election rules dictate that all candidates in a GRC team must either come from one party or consist of five independents. Both SPP and DPP had earlier agreed that they would contest under the SPP banner.
While the three SPP members are election first-timers, Mr Pwee and Mr Hamim were in 2011 part of an SPP team led by opposition veteran Chiam See Tong that scored 43.1 per cent of the vote against a People's Action Party (PAP) team led by Dr Ng Eng Hen.
Mr Long, a former civil servant who now runs his own businesses as a stay-at-home dad, said he is a Bishan resident and had walked the ground for the past two and a half years.
"It is important for me to stand up because the Singapore of tomorrow has to be different from the Singapore of today. I'm 37 but I can represent a wide range of views," he added.
Mr Pwee said "it's good to be back", calling the two parties coming together to stand as one team a "historic opportunity".
Mr Law, meanwhile, is semi-retired and boasts of 30 years' experience in sales and marketing. He is married with three children.
The youngest on the team, Mr Abdillah, has two businesses - a training company and a sports academy.
Mr Hamim, who runs his own company Hamim International, said: "I'm very happy that we can partner SPP and we hope to work together for the betterment of Singapore."
Mr Chiam's exclusion from the current line-up is a strong signal that he has retired from politics. But the veteran opposition leader, who held Potong Pasir SMC for 27 years, was present to give the joint team his backing.
His wife, Mrs Chiam, also confirmed that the 80-year-old will not be standing in the coming election due to his health and age.
His voice almost inaudible, Mr Chiam said: "As you've seen for yourself we have a strong team here, a very good line-up. They are professionals with good experience."
Sunday's introduction came one day after both parties signed an agreement to formalise their joint team, finalising their paperwork just three days before Nomination Day.
The signing of the agreement brings to a close a difficult, month-long negotiation that began at the joint opposition meeting to decide who would contest in which constituency. At several points in recent weeks, there had been rumours that the partnership was on the brink of collapse, especially due to disagreements on the make-up of the team.
Both sides had said on Saturday that they needed to take time to sort out a broad range of issues.
"It is a deliberated decision. We took time to make sure this isn't something we hastily go in to just for elections. We went into it, we went through every single point. We had to know that logistics work, finance works, we want to know candidates, we want to talk about decision-making - if anything this demonstrates the maturity of the cooperation," said Mr Long.
Added Mr Pwee on behalf of the DPP: "I think we respected the time and space that they need to make the decision. I think we didn't want to push it and run the risk of this partnership breaking. At the end of the day, there could be nothing worse than if this partnership broke and we went into a three-cornered fight together."
The SPP-DPP joint team will come up against the PAP incumbents consisting of Dr Ng, Mr Chee Kee Hiong, Mr Chee Hong Tat, Mr Saktiandi Supaat and Ms Josephine Teo.