THE National Solidarity Party's (NSP's) on-again, off-again bid to contest MacPherson Single-Member Constituency (SMC) in the coming polls took another twist early yesterday when council member Steve Chia declared on Facebook that he was no longer contesting the seat.
The abrupt U-turn, the second by NSP in the past week, appears to stem from online criticism Mr Chia received since he pushed for the party to renege on its deal to avoid a three-cornered fight with the Workers' Party (WP) and the People's Action Party (PAP) by steering clear of the ward.
"The trolls have won," he wrote in a Facebook post published at around 1am yesterday. "With this notice, I am announcing that I will not be standing for this coming #GE2015 and will not be contesting in #MacPhersonSMC any more."
He added: "It is with anguish and deep sadness that my lifelong ambition to be the people's spokesman in Parliament ends today."
Mr Chia, a former Non-Constituency MP, included a link to a website that purports to present a profile of him, and includes details about a nude photo scandal he was embroiled in in 2003.
"The site is not set up by me. And some facts in it (are) not correctly written," he said.
In withdrawing, he wished the WP all the best in the polls, urging it to "take down" incumbent PAP MP Tin Pei Ling.
The announcement may finally bring to a close one of the more peculiar sagas in Singapore's political scene.
On Aug 10, NSP said in a statement that it would not contest MacPherson and Marine Parade GRC to avoid an overlap with WP.
Last Wednesday, however, it said it changed its mind after receiving "feedback and pledges of support" from residents in the constituency where it contested in 2011.
The change was apparently opposed by then NSP acting secretary-general Hazel Poa, who promptly announced her resignation from the party.
Then came Mr Chia's Facebook post - a withdrawal that was released before he was even announced officially as the candidate.
Commenting on Mr Chia's post, People's Power Party chief Goh Meng Seng, who was formerly from NSP, lamented the behaviour of online trolls.
He wrote: "Just because NSP decided to contest against WP and PAP in MacPherson, it doesn't mean that people can use such smear tactics. Let them have a clean fight and that is what first-world democracy is all about."
Meanwhile, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) during a walkabout yesterday morning trotted out entrepreneur Jaslyn Go as its likely candidate for Yuhua SMC in the coming polls.
Chee Siok Chin, who is the sister of SDP party chief Chee Soon Juan and a member of the party's central executive committee, was overheard saying, "Meet our candidate," when introducing Ms Go to residents at the Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre in Jurong East.
If made official, Yuhua residents would get to choose between two female candidates in as many elections since it was carved out from Jurong GRC in 2011.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu announced on Saturday that she will be defending the ward where she has served as MP since 2006.
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