25 April 2011
SDP says it’s in the dark over video clip
Party says statements by minister show he’s rattled by GRC contest
By Aaron Low & Esther Teo
SINGAPORE Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Tan Jee Say said yesterday he had ‘no idea’ what Dr Vivian Balakrishnan was referring to when the minister cited a video that would raise ‘awkward questions’ about the opposition party’s motivations and agenda.
The former senior civil servant also dismissed the suggestion by the Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister that he had not done proper checks before joining the SDP.
‘Frankly, I have no idea what video he is referring to, and I have seen a lot of SDP videos,’ said the 57-year-old private investment adviser, a former principal private secretary to Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
Referring to the SDP’s team leader for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, he said: ‘I have known Vincent since last year, I have met my team members, I know them and I have asked people about them. I have done my due diligence.’
Dr Balakrishnan first mentioned the mystery video clip in an interview with The Straits Times on Saturday, saying that the SDP was ‘suppressing a certain YouTube video which raises some very awkward questions about the agenda and motivations of the SDP and its candidates’.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) team leader at Holland-Bukit Timah GRC did not give any details of the clip, but added that he suspected Mr Tan had not done ‘appropriate due diligence of his team-mates and his party’.
Yesterday, the SDP fired back, with Dr Wijeysingha describing Dr Balakrishnan as ‘a man running scared’.
‘These statements by Dr Balakrishnan show a man who is very, very rattled. Once our team was announced, he’s gone into overdrive, but there has been nothing substantive about his remarks,’ said Dr Wijeysingha, adding that he was not sure what video the minister meant, and that SDP had a lot of videos.
‘The fact that a highly trained ophthalmologist hides behind the newspaper and issues these comments shows a man running scared,’ he said.
He challenged the PAP to debate policies, arguing that if Dr Balakrishnan was so confident, the SDP team would be ‘trounced in five minutes’.
The opposition team comprises Dr Wijeysingha, 41, a civil society activist; Mr Tan; psychiatrist and former army colonel Ang Yong Guan, 56; and private school teacher Michelle Lee Juen, 35.
All of them pledged at the press conference yesterday that if elected, they would donate half of their MP’s allowance, which is about $13,000 a month, to set up a fund for the needy and to help the party do its constituency work better.
They also argued that upgrading of the estate should continue even if the opposition was voted in because such upgrading should be given to all Singaporeans as the plans would be funded by public money.
The team had earlier canvassed support at the Ghim Moh hawker centre and market, selling copies of the party newspaper, The New Democrat.
Dressed in red, the quartet were backed by 30 volunteers and supporters, and made their way around the market, with many people recognising Dr Ang, who has appeared on television and radio discussing mental health issues.
Former Reform Party candidate Alec Tok was also seen in SDP colours at Ghim Moh, but the party refused to confirm if he would contest the election on its ticket, saying that he was just a regular volunteer.
Over at Marsiling MRT station, SDP’s Sembawang team led by Dr John Tan, 49, also made its rounds. His team-mates are academic James Gomez, 46; entrepreneur Jarrod Luo, 27; businessman Sadasivam Veriyah, 58; and business development manager Mohamed Isa Abdul Aziz, 53.
The Sembawang team described the PAP’s plans for Sembawang as being ‘politically dishonest’ because the PAP team, led by Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, had not disclosed where the money would come from and who would build the facilities mapped out.
‘Mr Khaw and his team had five years to put forward a development plan for Sembawang but they did not do so. And now, suddenly, one seems to have appeared close to the election, just days before nomination,’ said Dr Gomez, who was a candidate for the Workers’ Party in the 2006 elections.