ST - Suicide squads to face MM and SM?

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Mar 27, 2011
'Suicide squads' to face MM, SM?
SDP, NSP believed to be keen on fielding young rookies in ex-PMs' strongholds
By Kor Kian Beng and Tessa Wong

Some opposition parties are keen for their young rookies to take on two former prime
ministers in their People's Action Party (PAP) strongholds at the coming polls.
If they do so, their gambit would be reminiscent of a Workers' Party (WP) 'suicide
squad' that challenged Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his Ang Mo Kio GRC in
the 2006 General Election.
The term 'suicide squad' was coined by PM Lee that election, as a comment on how
the WP team - five of whom were aged between 24 and 31 - had no real hope of
winning the six-member GRC.
Sources say the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is eyeing the Tanjong Pagar
GRC led by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew as a potential battleground.
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) is said to be considering fielding a young team in
Marine Parade GRC, helmed by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, 69.
The SDP, led by Dr Chee Soon Juan, has held walkabouts since late last year in the
five-MP Tanjong Pagar GRC, which was last contested in 1988.
A source said the SDP, which has one of the more active youth wings among the
opposition, is keen to field a young team to convey a message of change in its ranks.
The party is said to believe that its appeal to the young would be enhanced when it
stands against a PAP team led by MM Lee, who turns 88 in September.
For the NSP, though its GRC targets are Tampines, Moulmein-Kallang and Jurong,
Marine Parade is said to be a firm option too.
A source told The Sunday Times that the NSP is keen on Marine Parade GRC -
last contested in a 1992 by-election - because it wants to test SM Goh's
popularity.

The source said: 'As a politician for so many years, he may want to know how
people see him, and the best way is through the polls.'

Another reason is to give voters a chance to show their feelings about policies
introduced when MM Lee and SM Goh were PMs.


The source said: 'Some policies were rolled out in the 1980s or 1990s, but are
taking full effect only recently. One example is the HDB's asset-enhancement
policy. It is fair to have accountability before the two former PMs retire.'

But there may be a few hitches. First, the Democratic Progressive Party has set its
sights on the two constituencies, even as there is speculation that it is finding it tough
to get candidates.
Second, both the NSP and SDP may face a shortage of young volunteers for these
'suicide squads'. In the AMK battle in 2006, the WP team scored 33.9 per cent of the
vote, and went in knowing full well it had a slim chance of winning.
The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), an opposition grouping led by Mr
Desmond Lim, says it is ready to step in should both SDP and NSP change their
plans.
The SDA claims to have over 20 candidates for constituencies in which no
opposition party plans to stand, so that 'all Singaporeans get a chance to vote', said
Mr Lim.
One such ward is the Ang Mo Kio GRC, which has not drawn any opposition interest.
The WP has said it is leaving it alone this time.