Go. Stop. Go? Alliance between the Reform Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance
At first things look optimistically good last month with the inaugural SDA-RP walkabout in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC , then it looked really bad on Saturday and now things are in stalemate, each side waiting for the other to show their hand next. Both sides want to negotiate from a position of strength and want to get into the alliance with something to gain. This is politics after all and fanciful wishes of opposition unity is all just Utopian rather than hard Realist talk.
This alliance is of Old and New in a way. Old school means Mr Chiam See Tong, a Potong Pasir stalwart since 1984, a beacon of opposition defiance in the face of HDB upgrading and other election tricks by the ruling party for over 25 years.
And the new, represented by Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam who has bagged 2 former government scholars into his crew. But is the “new” face of opposition politics really “new”, or partly “old” as Jeyaretnam Junior is famous because he is his father’s son. Just like Lee Hsien Loong is famous because he is his father’s son too. Nevertheless, let take it that Jeyaretnam Junior is his own man, simply because I want to believe it that way.
The negotiations started off with RP straightaway showing that they are no new kids on the block. Their demands like the one that Chiam See Tong might have to contest in West Coast GRC were simple hard negotiation tactics to trip SDA and demonstrate that the RP was at least equal if not SDA’s better. SDA subsequently dropped these 11 conditions for alliance set by the RP and the press got wind of it probably because someone in either RP or SDA felt that RP was too brazen in its negotiations. It is after all the smaller newer party.
Jeyaretnam Junior was upset that their terms for alliance was leaked as he knows RP would look terrible to the public who probably would not understand that this is how tough negotiations are conducted, through initial stubbornness, pure aggression and huge dosages of arrogance – especially with a seeded opposition party led by a real opposition icon in the same league as Jeyaretnam Junior’s dad.
Which brings us all to this stalemate stage. Nobody said alliances would be simple and done overnight. Those who think so are either naive and never done any real business negotiations before. And if it was done overnight, we shouldn’t respect the parties coming to such a significant decision so flippantly. Let JJ and Chiam slog it out. It doesn’t weaken the opposition, it strengthens them instead in a Darwinism way.
SINGAPORE: The much-touted alliance between the opposition Reform Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance is off for now.
Reform Party leader, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, said this in an interview with MediaCorp, after the party’s first annual conference on Saturday evening.
The Singapore Democratic Alliance’s central executive committee led by Chiam See Tong held a meeting on Friday evening.
They reportedly discussed what’s said to be 11 conditions laid down by the Reform Party before it joined the alliance with SDA.
And on Saturday, the Reform Party’s members gave their in-principle approval to push ahead with negotiations.
But it seems talks will now be put on hold after the SDA said it was abandoning the list of 11 conditions.
This was confirmed by the Secretary General of the Singapore Democratic Alliance, Desmond Lim.
On this, Mr Jeyaretnam said he was completely mystified as to what has happened.
He claims the 11 points had actually been agreed with the SDA and its leader Chiam See Tong.
He said: “I can only conclude that Mr Chiam did not have the agreement of the SDA when he entered into negotiations with me. We won’t be conducting any further negotiations with the SDA because we’re not entering into negotiations with an organisation that leaks confidential documents to the press.”
But Mr Jeyeratnam said such an alliance is still “possible” though “not very likely”.
And that without the alliance, the Reform Party can stand on its own.
The Reform Party also unveiled its first batch of candidates for the next General Election due by February 2012.
Most were fresh faces except for 53-year-old Abdul Rahim Osman, who has contested in two elections under different parties.
He’s also the sole non-graduate among the group which consists of two former civil servants Tony Tan and Hazel Poa.
The others are Alec Tok, artistic director for a New York-based theatre company, and Jeisilan Sivalingam, a process improvement manager.
The party said it’s targeting to contest in two Group Representation Constituencies and two Single Member Constituency.
Among those on its primary list are West Coast GRC, Hong Kah GRC and Toa Payoh-Bishan GRC.
The party said it will wait for the election boundaries report before making a clear decision in which wards to contest. – CNA/vm