Reform Party stakes claim on Pioneer SMC, wants to contest seat if NSP pulls out

Reform Party secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam said his party is interested in fielding a candidate in Pioneer SMC and will contest the seat if the National Solidarity Party withdraws or cannot field a strong candidate.
Reform Party secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam said his party is interested in fielding a candidate in Pioneer SMC and will contest the seat if the National Solidarity Party withdraws or cannot field a strong candidate. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Reform Party said that it is interested in fielding a candidate in Pioneer SMC, and will do so if the National Solidarity Party withdraws or cannot field a strong candidate.

It stressed, however, that it will not enter a three-cornered fight and urged the NSP to clarify its intentions soon.

In a statement sent to the media on Wednesday, Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam said that his party had made "strenuous efforts" to contact NSP leaders in recent days with no success.

"We are therefore declaring our interest publicly," he said.

He added that the party has down its groundwork in the constituency.

"Pioneer was formerly part of West Coast GRC but was carved out before the 2011 GE. We walked the ground there extensively before the election and have continued to visit the residents there since 2011."

Mr Jeyaretnam said that they agreed to withdraw from Pioneer during the opposition meeting because it thought NSP council member Steve Chia would be standing there again.

"However, he has now withdrawn entirely from the election," he noted.

There had been speculation that the NSP might not be able to muster up the resources to contest the two GRCs and two SMCs it declared interest in during the opposition meetings, due to the recent turmoil within the party. Over the past week, it has changed its decision on whether to contest MacPherson SMC several times and also had its acting secretary-general and a council member resign.

Though NSP president Sebastian Teo told The Straits Times that it is committed to fielding 12 candidates, the Reform Party is clearly positioning itself to fill any potential gap the NSP might leave.

"While we believe that agreements reached at the opposition meetings should not be undone, the circumstances in which we consented to withdraw our interest have clearly changed," Mr Jeyaretnam said.