GE2020: My surprise candidature is an advantage, says SDP's Tan Jee Say

While many were taken by surprise when former Singaporeans First party chief Tan Jee Say appeared at the nomination centre this morning and was eventually fielded as a Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, it seems like it was a move that Tan had in the cards for a while.

Tan was a member of the SDP team during the 2011 general election and contested in the presidential election that same year.

Speaking to reporters at a virtual press conference today (June 30), Tan, 66, said that he had called SDP party chief Dr Chee Soon Juan about rejoining the party and the conversation they had was smooth, and that everything that took place after that "was just a matter of the process and a matter of time."

He added that though he only officially joined SDP "in the last few days or so", he had been talking to SDP for "some time".

And with regard to this surprise candidature, he said: "I think it is more advantageous than disadvantageous."  

Addressing why he had left the party previously, Tan said: "I had to resign because I was a candidate for the presidential election and no candidate can remain a member of a political party." He added that many SDP members had helped him for the presidential election and asked him to join SDP again whenever he met them.

On him rejoining the SDP fold, Tan said: "The reception has been quite warm, and I don't think anybody felt left out or that it is sudden... it's like the return of the prodigal son so to speak."

He added: "They're quite happy and they welcomed me back." Tan, however, made no mention of his previous party, the now-dissolved Singaporeans First. 

Speaking about running in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, a GRC where he stood for election with SDP in 2011, he said that many residents of Holland-Bukit Timah knew who he was, and many of them had asked him to contest for the GRC. Hence what he did was not unexpected, though he admitted that the news itself might have been surprising.

He shared that since the news was made known, many people had dropped him messages that said, "this is what we expected you to do and welcome back to the fold of SDP".       

kailun@asiaone.com