Veteran opposition leader Chiam See Tong confirmed yesterday that he would not be running in the coming elections, but the 80-year-old refused to rule out future contests.
Asked by The Straits Times if he was retiring from politics, Mr Chiam said: "I've still got a long way to go." He made brief remarks after a walkabout in Potong Pasir where he unveiled the candidates for the opposition team that will do battle at the scene of his last electoral outing, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
The team consists of members from his Singapore People's Party (SPP) and the Democratic People's Party (DPP).
The two from DPP are party 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.
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 they would contest under the SPP banner.
Their teammates are SPP members Law Kim Hwee, 55, a former marketing manager, training company manager Abdillah Zamzuri, 30, and tech entrepreneur Bryan Long, 37. Mr Pwee and Mr Long will co-lead the team. Mr Chiam said the two men were very capable and could run the constituency well. "As you have seen for yourself, we have a strong team here, a very good line-up," he said.
Mr Chiam was MP for Potong Pasir for 27 years and is now supporting his wife, Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam, in her campaign there.
In Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, the joint team will come up against a People's Action Party (PAP) team led by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, 56. The PAP team includes Senior Minister of State for Transport and Finance Josephine Teo, 47, former second permanent secretary for trade and industry Chee Hong Tat, 41, chief executive of OUE Hospitality Trust Chong Kee Hiong, 49, and Maybank head of forex research Saktiandi Supaat, 41.
Yesterday's official unveiling marked the end of almost a month of twists and turns that began early this month when the SPP and DPP agreed to partner up to contest the constituency rather than face each other in a three-cornered fight.
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.
The process was sewn up only on Saturday, when both parties announced that they had signed an agreement to formalise their joint team. With the line-up confirmed, both parties were keen to present a united front yesterday, and waved away suggestions that this was a marriage of convenience.
"It's not a marriage of convenience - this is an awesome marriage," said Mr Long, a former government scholarship holder. "We come together as partners, and we bring the best of each other's strengths together."
Mr Pwee similarly called the teaming up a "historic opportunity", and said the five candidates would be supported by an "extended team from the DPP". "You vote five, you get five free," he said. "So we are looking at a 10-man team that will run and manage Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC if we win this match."
At the last elections, an SPP team led by Mr Chiam that included Mr Pwee and Mr Hamim took 43.1 per cent of the votes.