11th May 2011
Dear Voters of Pioneer and Radin Mas,
Now that GE 2011 is finally over, I wish to thank the residents of Radin Mas and Pioneer for the many messages of support I received asking me to stand in your respective SMCs. Many of you expressed great unhappiness, even anger, at my decision to stand in a GRC. Some of the residents of Radin Mas even turned up at the Party office to beg me to reconsider. I hope you will accept my apologies for this.
When we first started walking the ground back in 2009, we chose to focus on the West Coast and Hong Kah GRCs, both areas which other parties had not shown significant interest in. We took pains not to tread on any of the longer established parties’ toes. At that time, Pioneer SMC was part of West Coast. The residents of Pioneer went to bed on the night of 23rd February before the boundary changes were announced, and woke up to find themselves in a new SMC. As this was an area that we had been building ties with for nearly two years, we felt we had a strong claim to Pioneer SMC. I originally intended that the Reform Party would contest in both Radin Mas and Pioneer and that I would stand in one of them.
However, when I attended the customary Opposition Parties’ meeting at PKMS to discuss how to avoid three-cornered fights, after the boundaries were announced, Steve Chia shared during the meeting that he had already spent over $8,000 on fridge magnets as gifts for the residents of Pioneer, and that he was thus unwilling to back down and concede Pioneer to us. And the NSP was, unfortunately, unwilling to withdraw from Radin Mas and let the Reform Party contest single-handedly against the PAP despite the constituency’s historic ties with J B Jeyaretnam.
Subsequently, in the interests of Opposition unity, we conceded four constituencies (Hong Kah North, Chua Chu Kang, Bukit Panjang and Yuhua) without receiving anything in return. Furthermore we then withdrew from Radin Mas and Pioneer SMCs where I would have stood a much higher chance of winning. Instead I stood in West Coast GRC despite the party being only two years old and relatively inexperienced. In the interests of normalizing democracy and giving as many Singaporeans as possible a chance to vote, the Reform Party also sent a young team to Ang Mo Kio at the last minute rather than enter a three-cornered fight in another area. I believe that the Reform Party has unselfishly put the broader interests of democracy and enfranchising Singaporeans before the interests of the Party in GE 2011.
Thus it was not arrogance or hubris on our part that led us to contest two GRCs despite the Reform Party only having been active for less than two years. We did not wish to abandon those voters in Radin Mas and Pioneer who had expressed a clear preference for the Reform Party. Our decision was driven by an unselfish desire to maximize the chances of the Opposition as a whole. However our experience gained in this GE will stand us in good stead in 2016. We have now observed from the results in GE 2011 that the Singaporean voter is sophisticated enough to vote tactically in a three-cornered fight. This was shown by the result from Punggol East where the WP candidate got over 41% and the SDA candidate’s vote collapsed to less than 5%.
At GE 2016, the Reform Party and I will not abandon the residents of Radin Mas and Pioneer. We give notice now, today, that we will be fielding candidates there and in West Coast and Tanjong Pagar GRCs—even if it means a three-cornered fight. We promise not to abandon you but to continue to build ties with the local community over the next five years. We pledge to do our level best to implement as many elements of our five-year plan as possible to improve your lives. In this endeavour, we ask for your continued belief in us and staunch support. We are confident that with your support we will triumph in 2016. If you elect me as the MP for Pioneer be assured that I will not rest till we get better, more intelligent policies that benefit you and all Singaporeans.