A LONG-SIMMERING dispute between leaders of Singapore's main opposition party is expected to come to a head at a biennial conference next weekend, when resolutions moved by rival factions will be debated. The publicity given to the dispute has damaged the image of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) at a time when analysts have seen an opportunity for the opposition to increase its popular support at the expense of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). The chance is said to exist because of pockets of public dissatisfaction over the cost of cars and homes and government policies. Officials of the SDP are anxious to resolve the party rift, which arose out of the resignation of Chiam See Tong as secretary-general after a row with Dr Chee Soon Juan, who is now acting secretary-general, so the party can present a united front ahead of the general election expected later this year. The SDP collective leadership, of which Dr Chee is a member, is moving that the party resolves to remain disciplined and not be distracted by the 'stone-throwing tactics of the PAP and Chiam See Tong'. It also calls on Mr Chiam to state publicly whether he will stay with the SDP or cross over to a new political party at the next general election. Former members of the SDP who had supported Mr Chiam registered the Singapore People's Party last month and said they planned to invite the former SDP leader to be one of its candidates in the next general election. Mr Chiam is moving a resolution to have Dr Chee barred from office if he does not take court action against PAP politicians who called him a cheat and liar. It is thought unlikely that Dr Chee would undertake the expense of going to court as he had to sell his house to meet the cost of a defamation finding against him last year. Mr Chiam is also calling on the conference to censure Dr Chee for his 1993 hunger strike, which the former secretary-general has previously criticised. Dr Chee said the forecast clash at the party conference had been played up in the media as a contest between two big factions but Mr Chiam had only a few supporters.