In a recent interview with the national broadsheet, veteran politician Dr Tan Cheng Bock said that he “cannot just base the manner I’m going to fight this election on my old style” even though he has taught many ruling party politicians how to win an election in days, during his time as a People’s Action Party (PAP) politician.
Dr Tan is the very first ex-ruling party parliamentarian to start his own opposition party in Singapore’s history. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayer Rajah Single Member Constituency (SMC) from 1980 to 2006.
A beloved politician, Dr Tan gained the highest margin of victory for the PAP in his last election as a PAP candidate in 2001, with 88 per cent of votes. During his time with the PAP, he also mentored younger politicians like Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.
In the coming election, Dr Tan will be clashing with his former party as the leader of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP). Referring to the short campaign period of nine days during elections, Dr Tan told the Straits Times:
“I taught many of the PAP leaders when I was around, including many of the ministers currently in Cabinet, how to fight the election and how to win an election within nine days.”
Dr Tan, however, knows that a lot has changed since the 2001 General Election. He said: “Population, education, housing patterns – all have changed. And I cannot just base the manner I’m going to fight this election on my old style.”
On 4 Sept, the Government announced that the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) has been convened. The formation of the EBRC – which reviews the boundaries of the electoral map – precedes the calling of the next election and signals that the next General Election is imminent.
In the past three General Elections, the EBRC has taken between two to four months to complete the review. The time between the release of the EBRC’s report and polling day has ranged from as little as 17 days to as long as six months, in Singapore history.
Speculation on the timing of the next GE has become especially fevered since the EBRC was formed, with both netizens and political observers opining that the next GE could be held as soon as November/December 2019 or in the first quarter of 2020, after the next Budget.
Dr Tan’s party has been busy preparing for the election and is set to hold its very first island-wide walkabout this Sunday (29 Sept). The party has yet to announce the timing, meeting point and details on regions that will be covered in the walkabout but the event could give observers a clue as to which wards the PSP might contest in the next election.