Singapore GE2020: Reform Party and PSP in dispute over 'deal' on Yio Chu Kang

The Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai (left) had been in direct discussions with Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam, a PSP spokesman said. PHOTOS: PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Reform Party (RP) is accusing the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) of reneging on an agreement to resolve their overlapping claims - with the two now headed for a three-cornered fight with the People's Action Party (PAP) in Yio Chu Kang SMC.

At the heart of the dispute is whether PSP had agreed to give up contesting Yio Chu Kang SMC in return for RP making way in West Coast GRC.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock's PSP says that no such agreement was reached.

The current dispute appears to have begun on Wednesday (June 24), just as a previous one - over who would contest West Coast GRC - was resolved. After days of negotiations, RP had announced then that it would make way for PSP in the constituency.

In the same Facebook post, RP said it would focus on Ang Mo Kio GRC, Radin Mas SMC and Yio Chu Kang SMC instead.

However, PSP continued with its plan to contest Yio Chu Kang, prompting RP chairman Andy Zhu to accuse the party of breaking its promise.

"The PSP are deeply aware that after the ceding of West Coast GRC, we will be contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC, Yio Chu Kang SMC and Radin Mas SMC. It seems like they are not honouring this gentleman's agreement that they had with our secretary-general Kenneth (Jeyaretnam). Yio Chu Kang SMC was part of Ang Mo Kio and the rights to contest should be given to us," Mr Zhu wrote.

Yio Chu Kang SMC was carved out of Ang Mo Kio GRC, which RP contested in the past two elections.

RP garnered 30.67 per cent of the vote in 2011, and 21.36 per cent in 2015, losing twice to the PAP team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

On Thursday, a PSP spokesman clarified with The Straits Times that both PSP and RP had not reached a deal, though its assistant secretary-general, Mr Leong Mun Wai, had been in direct discussions with Mr Jeyaretnam.

"It is unfortunate that right now they have come out to launch a vicious attack on the integrity of Dr Tan," the spokesman added.

On Friday, at a PSP press conference where the party laid out all 24 candidates it intends to field, including a candidate for Yio Chu Kang SMC, Mr Leong apologised for any misunderstanding, though the party did not cede any further territory.

He said that while he and Mr Jeyaretnam had tested out many ideas, the proposals needed the approval of the respective parties' central executive committees and no formal agreement was reached.

"We have engaged in very fruitful and frank discussions throughout. (Mr Jeyaretnam) is a very honourable man... If there is a misunderstanding, then I would like to apologise to Ken and RP... But nevertheless, PSP hopes that they will not take issue and attack Dr Tan directly.

"We hope they will stop making further accusations. Let us all focus on the general election," he added.

Additional reporting by Kok Yufeng

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