Singapore GE2020: Paul Tambyah not optimistic about opposition's election chances

While the Singapore Democratic Party hopes the People’s Action Party (PAP) will be denied a super majority on July 10, party chairman Paul Tambyah said he is not optimistic about the opposition’s chances at the polls.

Appearing with Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock at a walkabout in Bukit Panjang SMC yesterday, Professor Tambyah – who is contesting the constituency – said that while no one opposition party is contesting more than one-third of the seats, they are hoping they can win enough seats together.

“Between the major parties together, if we get one-third, we can prevent a super majority in Parliament,” said Prof Tambyah. “Although, to be honest, that is wishful thinking. Because right now, it looks like a wipeout. So, all we are trying to do is survive.”

He said the timing of the election put the opposition at a disadvantage.

“It is a crisis election. So, history is a teacher – in 2001, they called for elections soon after the 9/11 attacks. And the opposition was nearly wiped out. There was a 75 per cent majority. The fact that they called the election at this time when they don’t have to… shows that they are hoping to get a wipeout. It is something we really hope doesn’t happen.”

Yesterday was the second day in a row that Dr Tan turned up with opposition leaders in constituencies where his own party is not contesting. On Monday, the 80-year-old – who has been one of the main crowd-pullers for the opposition – met Singapore Democratic Alliance chief Desmond Lim in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

Dr Tan said he was in Bukit Panjang to see an “old friend”, adding that he had worked closely with Prof Tambyah’s father when they were both doctors at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

“My father had a lot of respect for Dr Tan,” said Prof Tambyah. “He passed away several years ago, but he told me that Tan Cheng Bock is a man you can trust.”

The two opposition leaders also said on Sunday that they would team up to debate the PAP on Covid-19 management. Dr Tan had proposed a televised debate with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

Prof Tambyah issued the challenge again yesterday in response to a Monday rally by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who said the opposition parties have not presented plans to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

Prof Tambyah said: “The Prime Minister has asked for what the opposition parties are doing about Covid. And if he was not so disconnected, he would have known that for the last few months, we have been giving comments, suggestions.”

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