SDP names final three candidates for Sept polls

Party chief Chee Soon Juan, former teacher and former political detainee complete slate of 11 candidates

The SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan introduces ex-political detainee Dr Wong Souk Yee and Mr Sadasivam Veriyah at the party headquarters in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 29, 2015.
The SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan introduces ex-political detainee Dr Wong Souk Yee and Mr Sadasivam Veriyah at the party headquarters in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 29, 2015. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) yesterday announced the last three of its slate of 11 candidates for the general election.

They include party chief Chee Soon Juan, 53, who was unable to contest the general election in 2006 and 2011.

Dr Chee was then a declared bankrupt 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 his bankruptcy in 2012.

The other two candidates are adjunct communication lecturer and former political detainee Wong Souk Yee, 56, and former People's Action Party member Sadasivam Veriyah, 63.

Mr Sadasivam, a former teacher, was part of the SDP team contesting the Sembawang group representation constituency in the 2011 General Election.

The SDP said it will confirm where its candidates are contesting only on Nomination Day, but Mr Sadasivam is likely to stand in the new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, which takes in parts of Sembawang GRC, where the SDP team got 36.3 per cent of votes in 2011. This year, it is also contesting Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, as well as Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Yuhua single-member constituencies.

This is the first time Dr Wong is standing for election. She was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for 15 months in 1987 and accused of being part of a Marxist conspiracy to topple the Government.

The adjunct lecturer at the National University of Singapore's Centre for English Language Communication said she plans to champion greater accountability and transparency in government. She also called for the abolition of the ISA, which allows for detention without trial. "That effectively is a suspension of all law... That is against every grain of democratic value and it is also open to abuse of power," she said.

The SDP has long been vocal on the issue of civil liberties, and Dr Wong is not the first former ISA detainee to be fielded by the SDP. In the last general election, Ms Teo Soh Lung stood in Yuhua SMC.

Also present at the press conference at the SDP's headquarters in Ang Mo Kio was former political detainee of 17 years Poh Soo Kai, 84, who got a standing ovation from supporters in the audience.

Dr Poh, who lives in Kuala Lumpur and returns to Singapore about once a month, told The Sunday Times that he was in town for the launch of a book on former Barisan Sosialis leader Lim Chin Siong today and decided to lend his support to the SDP.

A medical doctor by training, Dr Poh was detained during Operation Coldstore, a security operation in February 1963 that saw over 100 left-wing activists detained, and released after 10 years. He was rearrested in 1976 and detained for another six years.

Dr Poh also said he will be voting in the general election on Sept 11.

Dr Chee described his slate of 11 candidates as individuals with brains and hearts, with conviction and the ability to speak up for the people in Parliament.

He also said the party is "beyond sloganeering".

"You can come up with the most beautiful slogans," he said. "The reality is still that Singaporeans are suffering and having difficulty in coping with the cost of living."

He added that the SDP will put its alternative policies in a range of areas, including education and healthcare, at the centre of its campaign.

He added that over the past 15 years, SDP has "painstakingly cultivated a platform" and has been able to "attract some very good people".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'SDP names final three candidates for Sept polls'. Subscribe