SDP: Well Played, You’ve Gained My Utmost Respect

Dr Chee Soon Juan had just announced that SDP will not be contesting the Punggol East by-elections.

I am completely elated and jubilant with the turn of events, and I would like to take my hats off Dr Chee and SDP.

Deep within my heart, I had always thought that SDP’s strategy was to gain media traction from this episode, to put themselves in the limelight again, to remind Singaporeans of their existence and growing importance, before they would then decide to renounce standing for the by-elections. And I had to admit that as things went on, my confidence in this belief was starting to wane as I wasn’t certain if my belief was accurate. I was starting to have doubts. I had even commented about how SDP would need to act to remove Dr Chee, or whoever the mastermind was – if indeed SDP was to proceed to contest. But what a turn of events.

But thank you Dr Chee, and thank you, SDP. At the same time, I am embarrassed that I had actually doubted SDP and Dr Chee.

When I first read the announcement all plastered over my Facebook wall, I let out a yelp! Dr Chee and SDP’s timing is immaculate and whatever strategy they had in mind – it was well played.

Who would ever thought that a few seemingly negative media attention can be overturned just by this one announcement – Dr Chee had announced, “In politics it’s as important to listen as to speak. The people have spoken and we have listened.” By this one statement, Dr Chee had reinstated his influence and leadership and also solidified his position, and SDP’s stature as one of the dominant political parties to watch out for. At the same time, this shows that SDP is a party that is willing to listen, to consult, and at the same time, be open and flexible – SDP and Dr Chee has managed to score a lot of political points with today’s announcement.

Congratulations, SDP. And congratulations, Singapore, for the hope of Singapore’s political future.

I do not know if this whatever had transpired thus far was intended, or not. But either way, for me, SDP has done well to stand tall, be open and be transparent – this is exactly what we need in the state of politics in Singapore. For far too long, the state of politics in Singapore has been mired with secrecy, distrust, dissent, and a lack of sincere and bold participation. Today, SDP showed Singaporeans that perhaps, they are ready to move forward to become one of the political parties that Singaporeans should look out for – one that could helm the state of political affairs in Singapore.

I say, the General Elections 2016 will be one that we should watch out for – the Worker’s Party, National Solidarity Party and Singapore Democratic Party can together, bring the renewed energy and influence that Singapore needs to bring us into the new era.

Tomorrow, we will refocus our attention and throw our support together behind the Worker’s Party to rally for political change and dynamism in Singapore. And to let PAP know, the people are back. And we won’t let you push us down.

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6 comments

  1. Amie

    At the same time, I’m wondering why SDP bothered to go one huge round claiming that they want to participate and then withdrawing. To gain publicity, to prove that they are gentlemanly after all, or did they fail to gather sufficient volunteers/funding? I think that withdrawal is the only way they could go from the way things played out. Whatever that was done is already quite damaging to SDP’s reputation, this decision is their only saving grace. Nothing to cheer over, in my opinion.

    • My Right to Love

      There are many ways to look at this episode – where SDP had said that they would contest but decided not to.

      1) For me, we need to understand that the political parties need to adopt different strategies to gain impression and awareness among Singaporeans. Just for SDP, why did they adopt this strategy – of saying that they will run but then decide not to? SDP has a reputation for being bold, and they are not afraid to make use of it. And there is a growing group of Singaporeans who want this – they want SDP to be strong, to be bold and to dare to make a voice. SDP knows this and they will use it to their advantage. Why not? The political scene in Singapore does not need another WP or NSP. Now to be clear, WP and NSP both appeal to different groups of Singaporeans – Singaporeans who would prefer relative stability. And this group of Singaporeans isn’t what SDP attracts, and they know they won’t attract this group of people, so why water it down? Understand your influence, and use it to maximum advantage. It’s a smart move.

      2) Now, this is a guess but I do think at SDP had hope to take advantage of the media fracas that will develop round the by-elections to boost themselves in the public mind. And whether this was a strategy or not, they succeeded. There were many discussions about SDP’s strategy. People were discussing about the policies that SDP had to offer and hope that they would withdraw. SDP killed two birds with one stone with this – now more Singaporeans know about SDP, and more importantly, about their policies, which some have commented are well worth looking at. Not only that, by “listening to the people”, they’ve shown that they are willing to be open and respectful, and this will only do more for their reputation than not. Their timing is also well-timed, because right before Nomination Day, they pull up – at the first peak of media attention. This allows them to capture the media attention at the first peak, and then let WP take over the attention from Nomination Day. Very surely, WP and SDP were the only parties to be reckoned with, other than PAP. The media attention was well-shared and distributed. From now on, it will be WP all the way. The other parties or candidates won’t garner as much traction. From a publicity point of view, it’s well-played.

      3) Now, there are a group of Singaporeans who might be uncomfortable or perhaps, even upset, that SDP went through with the turn of events and chose not to run. For various reasons, they feel the decision has been favorable assessed by then. You see, there are a group of Singaporeans who have decided to pin their hoped in SDP as the opposition party to create change in Singapore – as explained, it’s a group of Singaporeans who are relatively bold. Within this ‘bolder’ Singaporeans is a subset which would prefer stability but yet align themselves with the ideals of SDP – is this the group of Singaporeans who are upset with this episode – because they weren’t prepared for this? Or could they have hope that SDP would have played the game in a more stable way? Well, SDP could, but as explained, they wouldn’t be SDP, would they? For this group of Singaporeans, is it about how SDP should pander to our needs or is it about how we need to also align ourselves with SDP? Well, it’s both. But thing is, as of now, everyone is trying to read everyone. SDP is, at the same time, trying to develop a model and brand that will be most aligned to their supporters, and vice versa. At this point, they believe that their actions are more representative. So, we should continue working together to remodel this identity, or stabilize it. For Singaporeans who had felt upset, it would be an opportunity for us to think for ourselves – why was it upset? Was it because SDP didn’t fulfill what OUR BELIEFS were or was it because they shouldn’t, as a matter of principle? On both counts, we need to then understand what is it we truly believe about SDP, can we respond to them in a modified way, and are we able to look beyond and put trust in them?

      We cannot look at this issue as a once-off issue. You need to appreciate SDP, and in fact, the other parties from a broad holistic point of view. What else have they done, or not? Have we actually gone down to their open houses to understand what they are doing? Have we been reading all their speeches to gain a direct and intellectual understanding of what they are doing and what they believe in? We cannot rely on what others say about them, nor can we rely on our own emotions, or what satisfies our own beliefs. We need to have a broad appreciation of the parties and the ongoings on a long term basis, and evaluate them from a larger and informed perspective. As we mature into a more sophisticated Singaporean who are better able to appreciate political issues in Singapore, this is what we need to do, for ourselves and for the country.

  2. New Girl

    I would like to believe that SDP executed this well-planned manoeuvre to give PAP the false impression that they stood a chance in a MCF. LHL was stalling as he had no faith in winning the by-election in the light of recent events, but hasten the BE when he thought the ward is going to be hotly contested. I guess he got showed.

  3. octopi

    I agree with you that the last minute SDP decision not to contest in the by-election was a very good thing for the SDP.

    Other than that there is just about nothing else I agree with you.

    What this episode is like is that somebody pulled a loaded pistol to his head and then decided not to pull the trigger at the last moment.

    And as much as you want to congratulate him for not pulling the trigger, you have to wonder what the hell he was pulling that loaded pistol to his head for in the first place.

  4. Prata Politics

    You are joking! By making a mess and then leaving the party before it even started proper, you are thanking them? LOL Your original hunch was right – they never intended to contest and it was just a sham to get street cred. It backfired.

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