WHENEVER the elections draw near, the People’s Action Party (PAP) never fails to resurrect Mr Chiam See Tong’s departure from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and run the story that I had ousted him and usurped his post.
Predictably, the PAP has done it again, this time through Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing’s letter (“Chee sacrifices S’pore to win points overseas: Chan Chun Sing”; last Friday), saying that: “Dr Chee plotted against Mr Chiam and pushed him out of the party he had founded.”
I would like to set the record straight.
Mr Chiam resigned as secretary-general of the SDP. No one kicked him out. In fact, after he resigned, a few central executive committee (CEC) members and I visited him on a few occasions over a month to persuade him to come back.
Court documents show that Mr Chiam’s relationship with his CEC colleagues was already strained prior to my joining the SDP. Mr Ashleigh Seow, then a CEC member, testified in court: “Most people have had a difficult time with (Mr Chiam) at one time or another.”
But even when the CEC took the decision to expel Mr Chiam over his open criticism of the party at an event organised by the Singapore Press Club in 1993, we still wanted to reconcile with him.
A few members of the CEC visited Mr Chiam, faxed him a letter requesting a meeting, and telephoned him several times to see if there was any chance of reconciliation before his expulsion was announced.
Tellingly, Justice Warren Khoo, who presided over the trial, acknowledged that he could find no bias or malicious behaviour on the part of the CEC in taking the action against Mr Chiam.
Given the above, is it credible for Mr Chan to say that I “plotted against Mr Chiam and pushed him out of the party he had founded”?
The PAP has spared no effort to paint me as the villain in this episode and to get Singaporeans to turn against me. I write this letter not to criticise Mr Chiam but only to set the record straight and to head off the PAP if it resurrects the issue close to elections.
The SDP has repeatedly sought goodwill with Mr Chiam through the years and we will continue to do so.
The SDP has moved on and we have grown. We have been a constructive party, drawing up alternative policies for Singapore. We want to focus on the real issues that Singaporeans are interested in, such as the cost of living, Central Provident Fund, housing, population and health care.
We hope that, for the sake of our nation and her people, the PAP will do the same.
Chee Soon Juan (Dr)
Singapore Democratic Party
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