The National Solidarity Party (NSP) seems to have made another U-turn, this time reversing its controversial decision to contest the MacPherson single-seat ward at the coming polls.
This about-face, a second by the NSP since Wednesday, threatens to throw the party - which had set out earlier to unite the opposition - into disarray before the next elections widely expected to be held next month.
The party is still without a secretary-general after acting chief Hazel Poa quit last Wednesday over its central executive committee's decision to renege on an opposition-wide pact to avoid three-cornered fights by steering clear of MacPherson single-member constituency (SMC). The NSP now appears to have also lost a potential candidate for the polls.
This after council member Steve Chia took to social media yesterday to declare that he will not be contesting MacPherson SMC or any other constituency in the coming general election.
His premature withdrawal appears to stem from online flak he drew after the NSP said last Wednesday that it would contest MacPherson afterall. This even though it had said a week earlier that it would bow out of the ward and leave the Workers' Party (WP) to contest against Ms Tin Pei Ling of the People's Action Party (PAP).
It is with anguish and deep sadness that my lifelong ambition to be the people's spokesman in Parliament ends today.
MR STEVE CHIA, NSP council member, in a Facebook posting announcing his decision not to run
The SMC was recently carved out from Marine Parade GRC.
Shortly after the announcement, Mr Chia - a former Non-Constituency MP and NSP secretary-general - started dropping hints on Facebook that he would be fielded in the ward. He may have also been singled out for criticism because it was widely believed that he was a key player behind the internal powerplays that led to his party's shocking U-turn last Wednesday on MacPherson and Ms Poa's resignation in protest against the move.
In a post on his Facebook page titled "The Trolls have won", Mr Chia blamed online criticism for his decision to pull out of MacPherson even before he was officially unveiled as the party's candidate.
"With this notice I am announcing that I will not be standing for this coming #GE2015 and will not be contesting in #MacPhersonSMC anymore," he said in the post.
"It is with anguish and deep sadness that my lifelong ambition to be the people's spokesman in Parliament ends today."
Mr Chia also included a link to a website that purportedly presents a profile of him, including details about a nude photo scandal he was embroiled in when he was an NCMP in 2003. "The site was not set up by me...," he said. Some facts in it were not correctly written, he added without elaborating.
A similar website on NSP president Sebastian Teo also surfaced yesterday. It featured images of old newspaper clippings about his previous entanglements with the law dating back to the 1970s.
Mr Teo could not be reached last night and Mr Chia declined to comment further on the matter.
Analysts say this latest debacle has put a dent in the NSP's credibility for the coming polls, and voters may not take kindly to a party whose house is not in order.
Some, like political scientist Derek da Cunha, say that while it was entirely NSP's prerogative to contest MacPherson, the party must realise there would be negative consequences for such a move.
"NSP will likely take heat from opposition supporters online and perhaps even offline for this flip-flop," he said.
Political analyst Bilveer Singh added that by backpedalling, the NSP came off looking especially bad, given that it was the party that led the all-parties talks intended to eliminate three-cornered fights for votes in the first place.
"Whatever the actual impact, it gives the opposition a bad name in this country," he added.