PSP informed other opposition parties of walkabout plans, not ruling out coalition for general election: Tan Cheng Bock and team
SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) is still open to working with other opposition parties and continues to share a good relationship with them, said its leader Tan Cheng Bock on Sunday (29 September).
Speaking after the party’s first official walkabout, in which it covered all 29 constituencies, the 79-year-old called on those in charge of opposition groups to be “flexible” in their ties with other party leaders.
Asked if there would no longer be an opposition coalition, Dr Tan said he was not ruling it out, adding that it was up to party leaders to “convince their own ground that this is a better option.”
“So keep it open and never close all your options,” said the PSP secretary-general.
For Sunday’s walkabout – PSP’s first since its launch early last month – the party also sent out “a friendly note” as a form of courtesy to let the other opposition parties know of its plans, said PSP assistant secretary-general Anthony Lee during a media interview at Dr Tan’s home.
He added that the other parties had “wished them well” in response. No note was sent to the ruling People’s Action Party, however.
Speaking about the possibility of collaborating with other opposition parties, Lee said, “It really allows us to exercise more options, whichever will benefit people the most. I think we will have that common understanding in time to come.”
Among the five PSP central executive committee members who spoke to the media was also former Singapore Democratic Party candidate Michelle Lee, who said that the PSP wanted to “move away from adversarial politics”.
Dr Tan echoed this sentiment and said that he hopes to see local politics move away from having a “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” mentality. Citing an encounter with Tanjong Pagar GRC Member of Parliament Indranee Rajah earlier in the day at Tiong Bahru Food Centre, he described the People’s Action Party (PAP) MP’s supporters as being “very friendly”.
“In fact, most of them I also know them because in the past we were all together. I’m quite happy with the relationship, it’s not confrontational.”
Pull factor for party members
Dr Tan had earlier visited two markets at Ghim Moh and Tiong Bahru where he chatted with residents, patrons and stall owners.
Apart from Lee, individuals formerly from other opposition parties were seen at Sunday’s walkabouts, all of whom cited Dr Tan as their main push for joining PSP.
Brad Bowyer, who was previously from the PAP and the Peoples Voice (PV) party, said that his friend had introduced him to Dr Tan after he had left PV. He added that “there’s a trust that Dr Tan would do it right”.
Former Democratic Progressive Party member Nadine Yap also joined Dr Tan’s party earlier this month. Appearing at Ghim Moh market on Sunday, she said that while the DPP was a “great party”, she was interested in “building an institution of opposition capability” and felt that Dr Tan had greater outreach and scale. Yap was one of DPP’s potential candidates in the 2015 General Election but thereafter left the party.
This time around she said she is happier to serve on PSP’s back end rather than run as a candidate for the upcoming general election, which must be held by April 2021.
Former Singapore People’s Party candidate Ravi Philemon told Yahoo News Singapore that his membership with SPP lapsed after the 2015 GE. He then joined the PSP as he felt “a need for the opposition to consolidate” and that it was difficult with the “parties merging with one another”.
“Dr Tan has been accepted as the leader of the opposition by the other opposition parties,” he added.
When Dr Tan was asked if Lee Hsien Yang, the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has joined the PSP, Tan said that whether he joins “is not important at all”.
“He sympathises with my cause and identifies with the processes that I want to take for the future of Singapore. He is also worried about the processes, he is also worried about the governance, so I think that is good,” said Dr Tan.
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