3 wards still unresolved

3 wards still unresolved
PHOTO: The Straits Times

They are almost there.

Singapore's opposition political parties are now closer to finalising which party will get to contest in which constituencies in the coming General Election.

But three wards - MacPherson Single-Member Constituency (SMC), Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and Ang Mo Kio GRC - remain thorns in their sides when the parties held their second meeting at the National Solidarity Party (NSP) headquarters in Jalan Besar last night.

Both Workers' Party (WP) and NSP are eyeing MacPherson SMC and Marine Parade GRC.

Surprisingly, WP was a no-show.

NSP acting general-secretary Hazel Poa said: "There are still a couple of constituencies that we hope to be able to talk to them (WP) about bilaterally."

She added that WP chairman Sylvia Lim had sent a text message on Wednesday night informing her of the party's absence at the meeting.

Ms Poa said: "I think they (WP) said they have made quite clear their intentions. So they would not be attending this meeting." WP declined to comment when contacted last night.

Mr Goh Meng Seng, chief of the People's Power Party, said while it was "regrettable" that WP did not attend the meeting, NSP will still present an olive branch to WP.

Some observers have suggested that NSP and WP's firm stand on the constituencies they want to contest in have resulted in a stalemate or disagreement.

Mr Goh said: "What disagreement? The only disagreement is 'One side wants to talk but the other side doesn't'."

WP chief Low Thia Khiang recently said in a report in The Straits Times that with Joo Chiat being absorbed by Marine Parade GRC, WP will contest the GRC.

In the last election, WP Non-constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong contested in Joo Chiat and lost by 388 votes to the People's Action Party's Charles Chong.

FACTOR

Mr Low had said: "That is a factor which we cannot ignore. Are we going to say, 'Sorry, Joo Chiat residents, because you're being drawn into Marine Parade, we back off?' We are a serious party, we take the support of the voters seriously, we will go in."

Associate law professor Eugene Tan of the Singapore Management University said that WP's absence last night indicated that it does not want to have any part in the opposition pow-wow.

He said: "It's a clear sign that while the WP would want to be seen as a part of the opposition, it is also increasingly taking the stance that it should be apart from them so as not to be tarred by the same brush."

But behind closed doors, there was "give and take" at the meeting, said Reform Party (RP) chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

This was despite the RP and the Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party both gunning for Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Mr Jeyaretnam said: "In this round, we conceded our claim to Jurong (GRC) to SingFirst...

"We will resolve the issue of Ang Mo Kio."

zaihan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 7, 2015.
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