SINGAPORE: It’s shaping up to be a five—cornered fight in Punggol East, should there be a by—election for the single seat ward.
On Thursday, the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) signalled its intent to contest the seat.
The ward was left vacant after its MP Michael Palmer resigned, following an extra—marital affair.
The SDP said it has a slate of qualified candidates, and will decide on a name in due course.
At a news conference on Thursday, SDP’s Secretary—General Chee Soon Juan ruled himself out as a potential candidate.
Dr Chee explained that he is not eligible to contest in an election until 2015.
He was given a fine in 2010 which disqualified him from participating in any elections for five years.
Dr Chee said the party had drawn up comprehensive policies which address the concerns of Singaporeans, and it looks forward to put these policies before the voters of Punggol East.
These include introducing a ’Singaporeans First’ policy where Singaporeans are given priority in employment.
The party also wants to scrap the Medisave, Medishield, and Medifund systems and introduce a National Health Investment Fund, which it said will make health care more affordable.
Dr Chee said the party has been building up its machinery especially after the last General Election, and its resources have expanded.
He indicated that the SDP will begin its outreach to Punggol East residents right after the New Year.
Dr Chee said it’s important to prepare early even though Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hasn’t decided on whether to call a by—election.
The Constitution does not require the prime minister to call a by—election within any fixed time frame.
The SDP is the latest opposition party to declare its interest in Punggol East, following the Reform Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance.
The Workers’ Party has said that it should have priority to contest, due to its earlier involvement in the constituency during last year’s General Election.
The SDP though remained firm in its stand.
Dr Chee said his party hasn’t met with the other opposition parties to discuss the matter.
"We will be getting into talking with everyone. We will work towards that and how that will result, we’re not sure. But as I’ve said, we’re intent, we’ve got our hearts set in contesting this by—election and we will move ahead with it," he said.
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