Featured News Dawn of a new era in Singapore politics

Dawn of a new era in Singapore politics

Dr Tan said although an overthrow may not be possible it was time to deny the PAP a two-third majority in parliament. "The ruling party has gone astray," added the doctor as he prescribed a change

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Tan Cheng Bock secretary general of the newly formed Progress Singapore Party no longer believes in the ethos that drives the dominant PAP of today. PAP is no longer the party that it once was. Decay, political or otherwise, has set in and like a good doctor, Dr Tan thinks a surgical strike is what it takes to keep the ruling party in check.

There have been many lapses, including loss of transparency, independence and accountability in recent years. “We do not know how Ho Ching and the spouses of ministers have come about to hold key appointments. We need to know what is the criteria for appointment of key positions,” he said.

“The ruling party has gone astray. It has failed to take in different perspectives and this may lead to negative consequences in the long term,” stressed Dr Tan.

Dr Tan said the ground sentiments are sour and it reflects the current mood of the people. He said that the time is ripe to bring in a sea-change in the political landscape.

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However, he also acknowledged that he is not young anymore and he has recruited many professionals and people from all walks of life into his political order. Some of them are young leaders and he gave his assurance that they won’t be just scholars.

Cheng Bock recounted his first meeting with the late Lee Kuan Yew: he went on to say that LKY recruited him because he was not a yes-man. Cheng Bock has been true to his self, his ethos and believes – that these are his guiding light, his true north in his moral compass. He lamented about how the current regime surrounds itself with a compliant bunch, a bunch of yes-men.

Sounds like we need a revolution of sorts, but Cheng Bock is modest about what he has set out to achieve. We can’t overthrow PAP, he said. And as a first strategic move, he wants to break PAP’s monopoly on power, deny them of their two-thirds majority in parliament.

It seems like PSP has not put all the cards on the table either. Absent at the media event was former PM Lee’s younger son, Lee Hsien Yang. He has kept his ace card close to his chest, according to a political observer. When asked about whether Hsien Yang was joining him at PSP, he said that he welcomes Lee Hsien Yang at PSP, but it has to be on PSP’s terms and not be a tool for Hsien Yang to settle his own personal score with the elder Lee.

Another party member said that he joined PSP because “Doc is very sincere,” and believes that Doc has what it takes to bring about a political revolution here in Singapore.

Whether it is a revolution or evolution is immaterial to some of the party members that I spoke to. It is a message of hope for the many things that ails our society like how the political elite have become so far removed from the daily lives and pain of the man on the street.

If politics is about jobs and wages, we are close to full employment. We are the best in a myriad of things, yet there seems to be a huge social, political and economic divide. Perhaps, the coal in PAP’s engine has run out. The economic benefits, trickle-down-no-more.

The lack of opportunities and upward social mobility is a growing concern amongst our youth. Some of them say they’ll have better prospects elsewhere, maybe in Down Under or in the Americas. But these countries and their politics are becoming increasingly nationalistic and our youth have nowhere to go and feel trapped in our own country.

Tan Cheng Bock brings hope to those in despair.

Ms Michelle Lee at PSP media conference. File photo

There is a message of hope, it was gleaming in Michelle Lee’s eyes, as she sat on the stage with Doc during his speech to the media. Michelle Lee, who contested in Holland-Bukit Timah under the SDP ticket in 2011 has found herself a new home to roost her own political ambitions. She is joined by another political veteran, Ms Hazel Poa, the former secretary general of National Solidarity Party.

Like them, many opposition members have joined the rank and file at PSP. Ravi Philemon, who contested in the last GE under Chiam See Tong’s Singapore People’s Party has joined PSP as well.

Cheng Bock said that the opposition has not made much headway in Singapore politics but he was also quick to commend them on their efforts and dedication. “There are a lot of personalities involved,” he said.

He spoke of possible alliances but was vague on the mechanics. Another card that is close to his chest, it seems.

PSP and the man standing under the palm tree (in the party logo) bring a glimmer of hope and stability for many opposition politicians. It may be the end the party-hopping-culture that has impeded position progression. The political nomads have finally found a base to setup camp, the rock on which they’ll build their church.

Cheng Bock is out to consolidate the fragmented opposition, perhaps under his own banner. As for the small fringe parties, they can talk the talk, but they have not been able to walk the walk, said another political commentator.

As for PAP, politics will no longer be blue skies and everything nice or just about dealing with the mice in the house. It is down to brass tacks, getting the fundamentals right and serving the people as well as looking after the interest of each and everyone of us. Otherwise, the house will turn red to PSP’s party colours. -/TISG

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