NSP saga: 'This is coming & going, not renewal'

NSP saga: 'This is coming & going, not renewal'
National Solidarity Party (NSP) secretary-general Goh Meng Seng (from left) with some of the party's young faces Spencer Ng, Nicole Seah, Dexter Wong and Abdul Salim Harun in April 2011.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

There have been at least eight high-profile departures from the National Solidarity Party (NSP) since the last General Election.

The secretary-general post has been filled by four people in as many years - businessman Goh Meng Seng, who left in 2011; lawyer Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss left earlier this year; lawyer Tan Lam Siong stepped down on June 17, and Ms Hazel Poa resigned on Wednesday citing differences with the Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Ms Poa, a former government scholarship holder, left after NSP's abrupt U-turn over the MacPherson single member constituency.

After the party had agreed to give up MacPherson to the Workers' Party (WP) to contest, former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Steve Chia announced his intention to join the fray, and said he had the full support of the NSP CEC, setting the scene for a three-way fight with the WP and PAP.

Both Mr Chia and Ms Poa declined to comment on the incident when contacted yesterday.

Political commentators said the frequent departures of senior party members sent a worrying message to the voting public.

Political watcher Mano Sabnani said voters were looking for "a stable slate of leaders in each party with a clear political philosophy and campaign strategy".

He added: "What is happening here is very different from renewal because this is 'coming and going', as opposed to party renewal where you can see a clear plan of the old making way for the new in a systemic manner."

Veteran journalist P.N. Balji said that while the NSP did well in the previous GE - its Marine Parade GRC team garnered 43.36 per cent of the popular vote - their results needed to be seen in context.

"There were several issues that came up during the previous GE and how well the NSP did cannot be taken to mean that it's a strong party," he said.

At the last GE, said Mr Balji, voters were upset with the Government over immigration, housing and transport issues.

The votes that went to the opposition were, in fact, votes against the ruling party, he said.

Other observers said Ms Poa's departure was unlikely to affect opposition politics in Singapore because NSP is a bit player.

DECLINED COMMENT

Former NSP members declined to comment on whether there were serious issues inside the party, citing a variety of reasons for leaving.

Said Mr Osman Sulaiman, who left the NSP earlier this year: "Maybe during congress meetings you'll see politics, but other than that we all worked well together...

"There were people with strong views and who did things in a different way."

His views were shared by Mr Tan, who was secretary-general of NSP for less than five months before leaving earlier this year.

"It was due to incompatibility issues, and let's leave it at that... There's bound to be some conflicts and disagreements. I don't want to comment further on this since I've left," said Mr Tan, who will be running as an independent candidate in Potong Pasir.

FORMER NSP MEMBERS

GOH MENG SENG

Position in party Secretary-general
Joined 2007
Left 2011
Where is he now: Secretary-general of People's Power Party

NICOLE SEAH

Position in party Assistant secretary-general
Joined 2011
Left 2014
Where is she now: Working at an advertising firm in Bangkok

JEANNETTE CHONG-ARULDOSS

Position in party Secretary-general
Joined 2011
Left 2015
Where is she now: Running for Mountbatten SMC under the Singapore People's Party banner

TAN LAM SIONG

Position in party Secretary-general
Joined 2013
Left 2015
Where is he now: The lawyer intends to contest as an independent candidate in Potong Pasir SMC

HAZEL POA

Position in party Acting secretary-general
Joined 2011
Left 2015
Where is she now: Will not be contesting in the upcoming General Election

RAVI PHILEMON

Position in party Council member
Joined 2012
Left 2015
Where is he now: Member of Singapore People's Party

BRYAN LONG

Position in party Council member
Joined 2012
Left 2015
Where is he now: Member of Singapore People's Party

OSMAN SULAIMAN

Position in party Council member
Joined 2014
Left 2015
Where is he now: Not affiliated with any political party


This article was first published on August 21, 2015.
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