SINGAPORE - There was no "horse-trading agreement or negotiation" between the Reform Party (RP) and the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), said PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai on Thursday (July 2).
He was responding to Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who had called the PSP's campaign for Nee Soon GRC "half-hearted" in a PAP virtual press conference on Wednesday.
Mr Shanmugam, who will helm the People's Action Party's Nee Soon slate at the July 10 polls, said in a Facebook post earlier on Thursday that it was "dishonest" of PSP candidate Bradley Bowyer, 53, to deny that his party had offered to trade Nee Soon to the RP for another constituency.
Addressing PSP leader Tan Cheng Bock, the minister wrote: "I think Nee Soon voters and the voters in Singapore need to know: why (would) this candidate, whom you hand-picked, say something which was so obviously untrue?
"If no answer is given, it will speak volumes. It will also tell Singaporeans whether Dr Tan values honesty in his candidates."
Mr Leong responded in a Facebook post: "PSP is always committed to Nee Soon... There is no horse-trading agreement or negotiation between RP and ourselves with regards to Nee Soon or any other constituencies.
"As there are many opposition parties vying for the limited number of seats, various ideas were tossed up in the course of discussion, but that does not mean they were accepted even as a basis for negotiation.
"Our Nee Soon team has prepared for months for this campaign and the fact that they are here shows their commitment. We should concentrate on the issues that can improve the lives of the residents of Nee Soon."
Last week, RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam said the PSP would withdraw from "various grounds" in return for the RP not contesting West Coast GRC, and that the PSP had also offered to cede Nee Soon, but the RP decided not to contest it anyway.
It subsequently accused the PSP of reneging on an agreement to contest Yio Chu Kang SMC.
During a walkabout in the single seat, Dr Tan Cheng Bock said contesting Nee Soon was always "non-negotiable" for the PSP, as was Yio Chu Kang SMC.
"To me, it's so trivial," he added of Mr Shanmugam's remarks. "It doesn't matter to me."
PSP treasurer and Nee Soon candidate Sri Nallakaruppan, 56, said: "This is a waste of time. We want to focus on real issues, like jobs, and serve residents."
Speaking during a walkabout at Block 292 Yishun on Thursday, he said the team had met many unemployed people - some of whom had been out of work for years, while others had lost their jobs during the Covid-19 crisis.
"These people have fallen through the cracks and need help," he said.
He also argued against the planned goods and services tax (GST) hike and called for GST exemption for basic necessities.
The PSP slate for Nee Soon is led by customer service manager Damien Tay, 51. The rest of the members are Mr Nallakaruppan, Mr Bowyer, adult educator Kala Manickam, 52, and IT project manager Taufik Supan, 40.
They will face a PAP team comprising Mr Shanmugam, fellow incumbents Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, 52, and Louis Ng, 41, as well as new faces - charity founder Carrie Tan, 38, and banker Derrick Goh, 51.
Despite the online exchange, Mr Bowyer, Mr Nallakaruppan and Mr Taufik were jovial when they bumped into Mr Ng at the market and exchanged friendly greetings.
Nee Soon resident J. Kamaliah, who runs a clothing shop, posed for a photo with Mr Bowyer before her breakfast.
"The PAP's percentage has always been very good here," said the 54-year-old. "But let them work hard for it."