Parliament 'needs more elected alternative voices'

Parliament 'needs more elected alternative voices'

FORMER National Solidarity Party (NSP) secretary-general Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, who quit the party last week, said yesterday she believes in the need for more elected alternative voices in Parliament.

The 51-year-old, who has applied to join Mr Chiam See Tong's Singapore People's Party (SPP), said in a phone interview with The Straits Times that the SPP is more than capable of being one of the voices.

Noting that the People's Action Party (PAP) keeps getting people of the same mould even as it talks of leadership renewal, she said: "It is good for Singaporeans to have a choice, for their leaders to come from backgrounds unlike those which PAP candidates are usually drawn from."

She believes the electorate still wants a PAP government, but added: "People have to really ask whether they still want the PAP to have a monopoly over things and solutions, or whether they could be more open to different approaches."

Her application has to be approved by the SPP's central executive committee (CEC), which is expected to meet this month.

A director of law firm Archilex, she said she chose to join SPP because she admires the work Mr Chiam did in his 27 years as MP for Potong Pasir.

She also admires his wife Lina Chiam, who is now a Non-Constituency MP.

Three other NSP members have also left to join SPP - former NSP council members Ravi Philemon, 46, and Bryan Long, 37, as well as party member Osman Sulaiman, 39.

Yesterday, Mrs Chong-Aruldoss declined to be drawn into discussing differences in the NSP, which she joined in March 2011 after leaving the Reform Party.

She contested on the NSP ticket in Mountbatten in the 2011 General Election, winning 41.4 per cent of the votes.

In October 2013, she was elected unopposed as secretary-general of the NSP.

She said she was unfazed by allegations of party-hopping, saying her four-year track record at the NSP speaks for itself.

Former NSP member Nicole Seah, who left the party last August, described Mrs Chong-Aruldoss as "a very nurturing and gung-ho leader... (and) a doer".

Under Mrs Chong-Aruldoss' leadership, the NSP's CEC had refused to give their salary details in applying to the Registrar of Newspapers to renew their newsletter's permit.

She appealed to the President last October and was unsuccessful in getting exemption for this requirement.

Asked about the episode, which some members say created discord, she said the decisions taken were "with the full backing of the CEC".

She added: "This was not a personal crusade."

In January, she challenged - and lost to - NSP stalwart Sebastian Teo, 66, for the post of party president.

She declined to discuss why she chose to contest the president's post, saying any such talk could lead to misunderstanding and ill-will.

"I really want to leave on an amicable note... I don't want to disparage them or say anything negative at all.

waltsim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 3, 2015.
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