Leaky Leak Stories
A few days ago, Jeyaretnam Junior (JJ) clarified very strongly in his letter to the Straits Times forum that before he engaged in further talks with the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), SDA had to settle its own internal disputes and that the leak had to be sorted out. The SDA remained silent on this ultimatum. Looks like negotiations have really stalled because JJ gave a deal-killer with 2 further hard demands.
Who made the leak? JJ was pointing fingers at SDA from his ultimatum. Logically, it was SDA’s way of coping with JJ’s terms for alliance. They conspired to show via the leak that JJ was arrogant and wanted the sky, although I thought that JJ was just being an experienced negotiator. Nonetheless, maybe SDA knew something about JJ more that we public didn’t. However, with JJ’s letter to the Straits Times forum and its self-righteous tone when the matter was best left dormant so that SDA and Reform Party can move on, SDA might be on to something that JJ was arrogant and that it was more than a negotiation persona. From the letter, it was almost as if JJ was offended that people could say no to him and resist his political influence as the son of JBJ. Furthermore, SDA was transparent, inclusive and accountable to its supporters by publicising the 11 conditions for the alliance but the Reform Party chose to see it as an unethical leak. Transparent, inclusive and accountable are incidentally what the Reform Party stands for according to its website. Besides, for all we know, the SDA leak might even have been quietly sanctioned and not the work of a lone leaker.
However, I also toyed earlier that the leak might not be from within the SDA but perhaps from within the Reform Party instead. Reform Party is a relatively new party and its members are a diverse bunch. From young former civil servants like Tony Tan and Haze Poa and old timers like Abdul Rahim bin Osman, formerly from the SDA GRC team in Tampines in 2001 and thus worked with Chiam See Tong before. All perhaps have their reasons to respect Chiam and his dedication. Maybe some thought that the 11 conditions for alliance demeaned Chiam and his SDA, and were just unreasonable although they were a form of early bargaining chip in the negotiations. So while JJ was busy pointing fingers at SDA for leaking, the leaks were a result of internal disunity on the means to the end i.e. alliance with the SDA. If this Reform Party leak theory is true, that could even be the reason why SDA has remained silent since JJ issued his ultimatum. As the leak was not from SDA in the first place, they had nothing to sort out in their house. Like they said back in school, when you point a finger at someone, 3 other fingers point back at you.
Nonetheless, the leak is a non-issue although it has been made a mountain out of a molehill regardless if it came from SDA or the Reform Party. What matters is that JJ’s letter to the Straits Times forum may have been ill-advised as it damaged his public image a bit. That the Straits Times published his forum letter rather than just chucking it aside and left unpublished already meant that the usually PAP-friendly newspaper knew that JJ shot himself in the foot with that letter and wanted the public to know.
May 12, 2010
Reform Party chief on impasse with SDA
I WISH to correct Monday’s report, ‘SDA-Reform Party alliance: On or off?’. What I said was that our members had given us the go-ahead to enter into an alliance if negotiation reached that stage.
That is not the same as saying a tie-up has been agreed, nor is it asking us to push ahead with negotiation.
It is simply a vote of confidence in the secretary-general and the central executive committee to take that decision should it arise.
It would appear that the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) has thrown out the baby with the bath water in deciding to treat the summary of broad areas of agreement already reached by both parties as a list of demands.
Normally, in a negotiation, it would be seen as a starting point for entering serious and final negotiations.
We have written to the SDA informing it that it may contact us about the possibility of continuing talks only after two conditions have been met:
# It needs to settle its internal disputes, and;
# It needs to take steps to trace and deal with the source of the leaked documents as all negotiation must begin with a presumption of trust between the parties.
At our next central executive committee meeting, the Reform Party will make a decision on what action to take should the SDA satisfy both those conditions and come back to us. But it will not be high on our list of priorities.
My respect and admiration for Mr Chiam See Tong remains unblemished, and I sincerely hope that he is able to bring them to their senses, although we will concentrate on our own candidates now.
Kenneth Andrew Jeyaretnam
The Reform Party