No three-cornered fight for West Coast GRC after RP pulls out

This article is more than 12 months old

The Reform Party (RP) will not contest West Coast GRC to avoid a three-cornered fight with the People's Action Party (PAP) and the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).

RP secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam announced the decision at about 1.30am yesterday in a Facebook post, just hours after Parliament was dissolved and the Writ of Election issued.

The move leaves PSP to take on the incumbent PAP team in a head-to-head fight for West Coast.

On June 15, Mr Jeyaretnam had unveiled six candidates, half of whom had been part of RP's 2015 team in West Coast, raising expectations of a three-cornered fight.

But yesterday, he said RP had been in "long talks" with PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock, and decided the "greater cause" at the moment was opposition unity and contesting where everyone has the greatest chance of winning seats.

Dr Tan thanked RP for not contesting West Coast. "We all understand the implications of a three-cornered fight so we are trying to put our differences aside so that we can contest with the PAP one-on-one," Dr Tan told reporters yesterday morning.

The PAP defeated RP in West Coast in 2015 and 2011, and has won every election there since the constituency was formed in 1997.

But Dr Tan also often speaks of West Coast as his "home" ground. It contains the former single-seat Ayer Rajah ward, where he was the PAP's MP for 26 years until it was absorbed into the GRC in 2006.

Without revealing specific areas, Mr Jeyaretnam said PSP will withdraw from "various grounds" in return for West Coast. RP and PSP still have overlapping claims in Yio Chu Kang GRC.

When asked if PSP might pull out to avoid a multi-cornered fight, a PSP spokesman said as of now, the party still intends to contest Yio Chu Kang.

Mr Jeyaretnam said RP will contest in Radin Mas SMC and Ang Mo Kio GRC.

RP's decision to cede West Coast also prompted other concessions.

In a Facebook post at about 2.30am yesterday, the People's Power Party said it welcomed RP's decision, adding that it "will be most willing to take a step back" and not field a candidate in Radin Mas, so that RP can focus on the ward.

Radin Mas contains the former Anson SMC, which was represented by Mr Jeyaretnam's late father, veteran opposition leader and RP founder J.B. Jeyaretnam.