Singapore Democratic Party fields its top two leaders in SMCs

This article is more than 12 months old

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) placed its top two leaders in single-member constituencies (SMC) yesterday, breaking away from the conventional practice of having them lead GRCs.

While the party contested the same five constituencies it did in 2015 and fielded many of the same candidates, the party surprised many by reshuffling the pack yesterday.

SDP chairman Paul Tambyah, who was expected to lead the party's GRC charge in Holland-Bukit Timah, filed his nomination papers for Bukit Panjang SMC instead.

The change appeared to cause a cascade of other moves: The party's expected candidate for Bukit Panjang, Mr Khung Wai Yeen, heads to Marsiling-Yew-Tee GRC; Mr James Gomez, who was seen campaigning in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, moves to Holland-Bukit Timah GRC; and Mr Tan Jee Say, who asked to join the party on Monday, is now the leader of the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC team.

Party chief Chee Soon Juan, who will be contesting Bukit Batok SMC, said the changes were done to maximise the chances of getting SDP candidates into Parliament.

Dr Chee, 57, said at a virtual media conference from the SDP headquarters that the party had deliberately made its candidates campaign in different areas.

Dr Tambyah, 55, who faces PAP's Liang Eng Hwa in Bukit Panjang SMC, said the SDP needed "to find the best candidate for the best location for the best outcome for the people".

On Saturday, Dr Tambyah, who was announced as the 2022 president-elect for the International Society of Infectious Diseases, was spotted at a Bukit Panjang walkabout with Mr Khung, who had contested the seat in 2015.

Media expert Natalie Pang said Dr Tambyah's decision to contest a single seat was to capitalise on his personal appeal.

"To me, it's quite clear it was a tactical move as he (Dr Tambyah) is a well-known person who has 'street cred' in the medical field. In the context of this pandemic election, having street credibility and being an expert in infectious diseases will give him very good standing (with voters)."

Dr Gillian Koh, deputy director (research) at the Institute of Policy Studies, said with SDP's best-known politicians standing in single member constituencies, the party will not be riding on its brand in the GRCs but on the personal pull of the key leaders in the SMCs. - THE STRAITS TIMES