Chiam See Tong, 84, steps down as SPP leader after 23 years

The Lion of Potong Pasir is taking a back seat.

Belmont Lay | October 17, 2019, 04:40 AM

Veteran opposition leader Chiam See Tong, 84, is stepping down as secretary-general of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) after 23 years.

This news came after the election of its new Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Lina Chiam, who was SPP's chairman before Wednesday's election, told reporters after the event: “Mr Chiam has given to politics for 40 years already. It’s time for him to have a rest."

Lina Chiam, who is Chiam's wife, was re-elected to the CEC.

Her position is still undetermined.

The official positions of the CEC members will be announced at a later date.

Remain a SPP member

Chiam’s departure from the party’s top decision-making body was announced during the biennial SPP Ordinary Party Conference on Wednesday.

The new CEC was formed with the election of 12 members.

Four are new to the committee: Jose Raymond, Ariffin Sha, Eman Lim, and Jalil Wari.

Chiam will still remain a member despite stepping down.

Lina Chiam said the meeting went well: “The meeting went on very well, amicably.”

“Everybody was like a family and we all voted consciously and happily.”

Chiam's legacy

Chiam is the second-longest-serving opposition MP at 26 years and four months.

The honours for the longest-serving opposition MP goes to Low Thia Khiang, who has been an MP for the Workers' Party since he was elected in 1991.

Chiam started out as an independent candidate in 1976 and was elected to the Potong Pasir constituency in 1984.

Chiam has been with the SPP since 1996.

This was after he left the Singapore Democratic Party, which he had founded in 1980, following a falling out with his protege, Chee Soon Juan.

An image of Chiam See Tong and Chee Soon Juan taken in 2010 and published in 2015.

Chiam last contested in the general election in 2011.

He left Potong Pasir SMC to lead an opposition team in the five-member Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

New leader

The leadership position is expected to go to either Jose Raymond or Steve Chia.

Raymond was the former Singapore Environment Council executive director and press secretary to Vivian Balakrishnan.

Chia is the SPP’s organising secretary who headed the National Solidarity Party for a while previously.

Chia was also elected to the CEC.