Sunday, September 16, 2012

In Line For A Return

Opposition politician Chee Soon Juan is now in line for a return to politics after coming to an agreement with former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong on his compensation to the duo due to defamation suits in 2001.

Mr. Chee, who is the secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), lost defamation suits to both Mr. Lee and Mr. Goh in 2001 and was to pay S$200,000 and S$300,000 in damages respectively to the duo. Unable to make the payment, Mr. Chee was declared a bankrupt in 2006 and was unable to stand for the General Elections (GE) last year.

The 2 former PMs have now agreed to accept a $30,000 payment from Mr. Chee to settle his debts and get out of bankruptcy. Once Mr. Chee pays off the S$30,000, his bankruptcy will be officially annulled and he would be in line to return to politics in the next GE.

I’m not sure that’s such a good idea for the opposition.

Mr. Chee was unable to contest in the 2011 GE but as leader of the SDP, he was in charge of the logistics of the SDP campaign and he did a great job. Even though he was not up for election, as the leader of the SDP, Mr. Chee had a great influence in GE 2011. He kept everyone in the SDP on message and the SDP got a 13.53% increase of votes in wards they contested in. Also, as he was not in the election, the PAP could not attack him for being a leftist.

So based on what happened last year, Mr. Chee is (surprisingly) more effective in the background than on the frontlines. Even though he was not up for a seat, Mr. Chee had more influence and success in the GE last year then he ever had in the past. I think that is why Mr. Lee and Mr. Goh agreed to settle the suit 10 times below what they were entitled to. They (and the PAP) want Mr. Chee to contest in the next elections.

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