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Chee's party wants explanation for 'no polls' decision


Straits Times June 23, 1999

THE Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) yesterday called on the Prime Minister to give a satisfactory explanation for his decision not to call a by-election in Jalan Besar GRC.

It described the reason given by PM Goh Chok Tong -- that a by-election would distract the country from its efforts to recover from the economic crisis -- as "lame" and "flippant".

SDP chief Chee Soon Juan said yesterday that if a by-election was a "distraction", then the next general election should not be held if the recession continued and full economic recovery was not achieved.

The coming presidential election should also be cancelled, he said.

He added that elections in other Asian countries should also be suspended until the economic crisis was over.

Also, he said, going by the PM's logic, Mynamar, which had no elections, should be "the shining example of economic prosperity".

A seat in the four-member Jalan Besar GRC slate has fallen vacant with the conviction of ex-MP Choo Wee Khiang on abetment of cheating charges.

He was released from jail on Saturday after having served a two-week sentence.

Yesterday, Dr Chee also noted that a by-election would test public endorsement of the PAP government's performance during the recession.

The government should consider giving proper reasons for not holding a by-election, he said.

He added: "Until it does, it is morally obliged and accountable to the people of Singapore to hold one."

Published in the Straits Times. June 23, 1999

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