Despite a pretext of opposition ‘collaboration‘, there is a real and valid reason why SDP must contest Punggol East, even though it will likely lose.
Because SDP needs to stop WP before it becomes impossible.
If SDP lets WP contest Punggol East unmolested, it will acknowledge that WP is the #1 Opposition party in Singapore.
There can only be two outcomes then: if WP wins in a straight contest, SDP is doomed. WP will have 7 seats in Parliament and still keep its two NCMP seats, while SDP not only gets nothing, but becomes further submerged in voters’ consciousness.
Even if WP doesn’t win, SDP gains nothing from giving way to WP.
On the other hand, by contesting SDP makes almost certain that WP will not win the election. In strategy we call this a blocking move. You sacrifice one of your own just to make sure that your opponent cannot make further gains. It is basically a strategy not only to deny WP another seat in Parliament, but to deny WP another chance to look good in front of voters at large.
If SDP polls higher than WP, they will brag that Singaporeans want their brand of ‘opposition’ rather than WP’s meek and mild opposition. Even if SDP polls lower than WP, they’ll still say it’s a credible showing, while secretly celebrating that WP does not get yet another seat in Parliament. They would also have raised their profile, especially now that Dr Chee is no longer a bankrupt and can speak at election rallies. It will be his golden chance to address Singaporeans at large after almost 15 years.
In the unlikely event that SDP lose their election deposit, they’ll claim that PM Lee denied them the opportunity to build a fan base in Punggol East before he pressed his ‘panic’ button.
So you see how important Punggol East is to SDP.
Test of party branding, my foot! This is politics, this is strategy. WP’s growth comes at the expense of SDP and all other parties in Singapore, even the PAP. SDP is doing the right thing, for its own interest.
Other pretenders like Desmond Lim and Botak Pwee are out to either redeem themselves or prove a point. Only SDP is playing strategy.
The result appears inevitable: PAP will win. The only question is, who will be Ms Punggol-East runner up in this beauty contest. Sadly, the runner up does not get to become Ms Punggol-East in the event the winner is unable to fulfill her obligations. But that’s politics for you.
PS> NSP must be regretting its decision now to rule itself out of the contest at an early stage. In politics you never ever rule out anything, unless you are forced. Ha!