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May 3, 2011
PUNGGOL EAST SMC
I didn't cause 3-way fight, says SDA chief
By Mavis Toh
SINGAPORE Democratic Alliance (SDA) secretary-general Desmond Lim broke
down during an interview with The Straits Times yesterday, saying he has
come under heavy criticism from voters who questioned why he was going
against another opposition candidate in Punggol East.
The Single Member Constituency is the only one in a three-cornered fight in this
election, where the People's Action Party's Michael Palmer will face off against Mr
Lim and Workers' Party candidate Lee Li Lian.
Speaking midway through house visits in Rivervale, Mr Lim, who is contesting his
third consecutive election, said some voters have asked why he is insisting on a
three-cornered fight in their constituency.
'The general perception is that WP is the bigger party, with the branding and
heavyweights, and that SDA is very small,' he said. He added that he also
received a call from a man claiming to be a WP supporter yesterday morning,
asking him to withdraw from the election.
'He raised his voice, said SDA is a small party, I would lose my election
deposit and that I should just withdraw,' said the principal engineer.
Unlike his usually cheerful self, he said after a pause, and while choking back
tears: 'I'm very sad. We're fighting for their interests and despite going through
a hard time, with the possibility of losing (our) jobs and sacrificing family time,
Singaporeans are giving us this treatment.'
Faced with the recurring question of why he is contesting in the constituency, Mr Lim
patiently explained that he led a team in Pasir Ris-Punggol in the 2006 elections, and
has been working the ground there ever since.
He is now standing in Punggol East as the ward was wholly sliced out of Pasir Ris-
Punggol in this election.
'I keep explaining, it's not me who's causing a three-cornered fight here. I wasn't just
parachuted in,' he said. He added that residents are usually more encouraging after
listening to him, that every household has now received at least three of his fliers
and many residents even know his name.
Asked why other opposition parties were able to avoid fielding candidates in
the same constituencies, he said he met WP chairman Sylvia Lim only once
before Nomination Day, but she was not open to a discussion.
'We called them many times, but they met us only once for 10 minutes to
inform us they were coming to Punggol East. There was no room for
negotiation,' said the 44-year-old.
His decision to stand in Punggol East, rather than lead the SDA team in Pasir Ris-
Punggol, was made to secure a footing in the ward for his party for future elections.
For now, he is leaning on his wife, Madam Jolene Goh, 40, for support. The
corporate account manager recently quit her job to follow her husband on his daily
'This is the toughest election for me. My energy is very low now, but I have to go on.
I will never give up Punggol East,' he said.