Singapore Democratic Alliance

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Singapore Democratic Alliance
Leader Desmond Lim
Chairman Chiam See Tong
Founder Chiam See Tong
Founded 2001 (2001)
Ideology Liberal democracy
Colours Red, green
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The Singapore Democratic Alliance (abbrev: SDA; Chinese: 新加坡民主联盟) is an alliance of opposition political parties in Singapore.

History and Political Development[edit]

The SDA was formed shortly before the 2001 general election to provide a common grouping under which different opposition parties could stand as a political coalition in elections against the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). The founding Chairman of the SDA was the leader of the Singapore People's Party and former Member of Parliament (MP) for Potong Pasir, Chiam See Tong.

The SDA was initially an alliance of four political parties: the Singapore People's Party (SPP), the National Solidarity Party (NSP), the Singapore Justice Party (SJP) and the Singapore Malay National Organization (PKMS).

In 2007, the National Solidarity Party withdrew from the alliance. In February 2011, the SDA's Council voted to relieve Chiam of his role as chairman, following which Chiam announced that the Singapore People's Party was withdrawing from the SDA. The split was said to occur after a disagreement over who would succeed Chiam in Potong Pasir SMC after he would leave to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. While Chiam selected his wife Lina, many felt that a more suitable successor would be Desmond Lim, who helped Chiam manage his town council funds. In the 2011 General Election, Lina lost her seat by 114 votes. She was later made a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament.

Another reason for the split was the Reform Party's (RP) attempt to federate it with the SDA. It was supported by Chiam, but was disapproved of by the Singapore Malay National Organization (PKMS). Eventually, the RP did not join the SDA and instead contested under its own banner.

One notable member in the SDA is Mr Tan Lead Shake. He was part of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) team in 2006 general election that contested in Tampines GRC. He crossed over from the Democratic Progressive Party.

Electoral Performance[edit]

2001 General Election[edit]

The SDA fielded 13 candidates in two Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and three Single Member Constituencies (SMCs), and secured 12.0% of the votes cast in the general election.

The SDA's chairman, Chiam See Tong, became the first (and to date only) MP elected under the SDA banner when he was re-elected as MP for Potong Pasir. (He had previously been elected as a Singapore People's Party representative in 1997, and as a Singapore Democratic Party representative in 1984, 1988 and 1991.)

SDA member Steve Chia (the leader of the National Solidarity Party) also entered Parliament as a non-constituency MP after securing 34.6% of the votes in the constituency of Chua Chu Kang, which was the highest percentage of the vote secured by a losing opposition candidate at the election.

The result made Chiam the de facto leader of the opposition in Parliament, as the SDA had two representatives (Chiam and Chia), whereas the only other opposition party represented in Parliament (the Worker's Party) had only one (Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang).

2006 General Election[edit]

On 16 April 2006, SDA announced that in the upcoming general election, it was aiming to win 15 seats. The SDA also wanted to set up a viable Shadow Cabinet if it won two GRCs and four single-seat wards. The target was outlined in a soft launch of its manifesto online, on the website of the Singapore People's Party.[1] The SDA had candidates running for three GRCs and four SMCs (Jalan Besar GRC, Tampines GRC, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Chua Chu Kang SMC, Yio Chu Kang SMC, MacPherson SMC and Potong Pasir SMC).[2] In total, the SDA contested 20 seats. SDA chairman Chiam See Tong made a political broadcast for the SDA on 29 April. He argued that a multi-party system is needed for democracy to exist in Singapore, and that a free Singapore with room for diverse views and opinions was necessary for the social, cultural and political well-being of the people. He urged people to vote for the opposition to ensure that Singapore would not degenerate into a one-party state, saying that "a vibrant and cosmopolitan Singapore needs creativity of the mind", and that "these can only flourish in an atmosphere of freedom and an environment where there is no fear". He reminded viewers of the old saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Chiam was re-elected as MP for Potong Pasir at the general election. However the SDA did not win any other seats. Steve Chia lost his position as a non-constituency MP. Though Chia increased his share of the vote in Chua Chu Kang to 39.63%, this was lower than the 43.9% gained by the Worker's Party in Aljunied GRC. The role of de facto leader of the opposition in Parliament therefore passed from Chiam to the Workers' Party leader Low Thia Khiang.

2011 General Election[edit]

In 2007, the National Solidarity Party announced that it had decided to withdraw from the SDA[3] to "explore new possibilities through wider latitude to manoeuvre, re-engineer, and rebuild the NSP".

In 2010, Chiam tried to bring the Reform Party into the SDA. He reportedly accepted the conditions the Reform Party set out for joining the alliance, however the terms of entry were opposed by other members of the SDA's Council who blocked the move. Chiam also suffered a mild stroke in 2008, following which he had to cut back on some of his political activities, and this led some members of the SDA's Council to question whether he was able to properly fulfil his role of Chairman of the alliance. On 28 February 2011, the SDA's Council voted to relieve Chiam of his role as chairman, however the Council stressed that they still hoped to field Chiam as a candidate at the next general election. (Chiam had earlier announced that he planned to stand in a GRC rather than in the Potong Pasir SMC at the next general election.) But two days later, on 2 March 2011, Chiam announced that the Singapore People's Party was withdrawing from the SDA, and that he would stand under the banner of the SPP instead of the SDA at the next general election.[4][5]

The Singapore Democratic Alliance had allotted slots for the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and Punggol East SMC, but the independents who are in Tanjong Pagar GRC were rejected.

2013 By-Election, Punggol East SMC[edit]

The SDA entered the race for the 2013 by-election in Punggol East SMC, under candidate Desmond Lim. Lim finished fourth with 168 votes (0.57%), a 4% negative swing from the last general election in 2011. The loss set a record for the lowest percentage garnered in an election since the independence of Singapore.[6]


  1. ^ "SDA 'soft' launches manifesto, gunning for 15 seats in GE". Channel NewsAsia. 16 April 2006. 
  2. ^ "SDA Candidates". Channel NewsAsia. 27 April.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^
  4. ^ GE: SDA says Chiam pulling SPP out of alliance,, 2 March 2011
  5. ^ Chiam pulls party out of alliance, Today, 3 March 2011
  6. ^ SDA scores worst result in post-independence history

External links[edit]