GE2020: DPP pulls out; PPP's Goh Meng Seng says polls will be his last

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
People's Power Party founder Goh Meng Seng with Democratic Progressive Party secretary-general Mohamad Hamim Aliyas at the MacPherson Market & Food Centre on Saturday morning (27 June). (Photo: Christalle Tay / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — With three days to go till Nomination Day, another opposition party has pulled out of the electoral race in a bid to avoid three-corner fights – widely seen to dilute opposition votes and favour the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP).

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which had plans to contest in the Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC), along with Marymount and Kebun Baru Single Member Constituencies (SMCs), said on Saturday (27 June) that it was pulling out of the election altogether.

Its secretary-general Mohamad Hamim Aliyas told reporters that after deliberating with some of the other opposition parties, “the DPP CEC is pleased to announce that we have decided not to contest in this election to avoid three-corner fights”.

Hamim made the announcement after a walkabout at MacPherson Market & Food Centre with People’s Power Party (PPP) founder Goh Meng Seng in a show of solidarity.

“The DPP fully supports the informal alliance between RP (the Reform Party), PPP and ourselves to continue to participate in Singapore’s democracy process,” he said.

Hamim added that his party will be helping other opposition parties in their campaigning where possible. “Insya Allah (God willing), we will continue our groundwork and prepare for the next election,” he added.

The announcement comes two days after opposition party Singaporeans First, or SingFirst, said it had been dissolved, with secretary-general Tan Jee Say saying the decision was made to avoid three-corner fights against other opposition parties.

“Opposition unity and cooperation have always been a guiding principle of our party,” Tan wrote in a letter posted on the party’s Facebook page.

“We believe a strong opposition is best achieved with consolidation. In this light, the central executive committee of Singaporeans First has decided to dissolve the party. The decision was not made lightly, but we believe that this move is in the best interests of Singapore,” he added.

There are 93 parliamentary seats up for grabs - 17 GRCs and 14 SMCs. A total of 10 opposition parties have indicated that they will be contesting in the polls. Apart from RP and PPP, the others are the Workers’ Party, Singapore Democratic Party, Progress Singapore Party, National Solidarity Party, Singapore Democratic Alliance, Singapore People’s Party, Peoples Voice and Red Dot United.

The Elections Department on Saturday said it has received a total of 226 applications for the Political Donation Certificate – a requirement for every candidate who wants to contest the General Election – before Friday’s application deadline.

People's Power Party founder Goh Meng Seng meeting residents at MacPherson Market & Food Centre on Saturday morning (27 June). (Photo: Christalle Tay/Yahoo News Singapore)

Goh Meng Seng has ‘no expectation’ going into campaigning

Meanwhile, PPP founder Goh has said that he will be contesting in the MacPherson SMC.

Asked by Yahoo News Singapore for his view of the incumbent MP, Goh said, “I think Tin Pei Ling is a nice lady. She has done a lot of grassroots work in this area. I hope she will continue to do it whatever the election outcome.”

He added, “However, what I can do is what she cannot do in Parliament - that’s (to be) a very strong voice and (to engage in) policy debates on all aspects of the economic policies as well as the social policies.”

Pressed by another reporter on how different he would be from Tin, Goh said, “She's under the same party. How else do you expect her to be more critical about the own party policies.” He added that with a background in statistics, “I can contribute more in the parliamentary service for the nation”.

Goh also told reporters that this would be his last GE contest. He had first fought in GE2006 in Aljunied GRC as part of the WP’s then A-team, including WP chairman Sylvia Lim and academic James Gomez, garnering about 44 per cent of votes. The results heralded Lim’s entry into Parliament as a Non-Constituency MP.

Then in GE2011, he contested in Tampines GRC as secretary-general of the NSP, with the team garnering nearly 43 per cent of ballots. And in GE2015, he founded PPP and contested in Chua Chu Kang GRC, winning about 23 per cent of votes.

Asked by Yahoo News Singapore how confident he was of winning a seat in the House this time round, Goh said, “I always go into a campaign without any expectation because this is Singapore. Sad to say: because this is Singapore.

“If I always go into an election expecting to win, I will not be contesting now. Because after losing three times, you still want to waste money? Nobody would do that.

“But it's always for the country. What I think is needed. As a countercheck and balance to the government in whatever aspects of the policies. And I believe from my training as an economist and a statistician, I have that capacity to do it.”

On three-corner fights widely seen as diluting opposition votes, Goh said, “I’m one of those who have been working very hard for the past two weeks to persuade, to mitigate, to mediate between parties to avoid three-corner fights. I've done my best. Whatever will be will be.”

Asked about releasing his manifesto, Goh said, “The simple campaigning manifesto is already there: A strong united Parliament. Mediocre leaders: do not give them more powers. It’s dangerous to give them more powers. Because for every single mistake they make, it will cost us a lot: (nearly) a hundred billion (dollars – to tackle COVID-19) and 41,000 infections. That is a result of (a) single mistake...

“Do we still want to give them more power? No, we should give them more checks. And the checks will come from a strong Parliament.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Ong and Christalle Tay

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