Many of the country’s opposition parties greeted Dr. Tan Cheng Bock’s announcement that he is returning to the political arena with eagerness and enthusiasm. Some parties have even expressed that they are interested in working with Dr. Tan. On Friday, January 18, Tan announced that he and other former PAP cadres are forming the Progress Singapore Party.
Opposition parties met in July 2018 and discussed the possibility of Tan leading an opposition coalition. According to Today, these parties have yet to hear from Tan since then. After his announcement, several leaders from opposition parties said they are willing to enter an alliance with Tan and his new party. However, as of today, January 21, the notable exception that has withheld comment regarding Tan’s return to politics is the Worker’s Party, the only opposition party with MPs (Members of Parliament).
The parties who have expressed interest in allying with Tan and who were also present in the July 2018 meeting are the following: Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Singaporeans First Party, National Solidarity Party, and Reform Party.
On Friday, the SDP wrote in a Facebook post, “The SDP congratulates Dr. Tan Cheng Bock for coming forward to participate in electoral politics again – this time with the opposition.
We look forward to the formation of his new party and to work with him to strengthen the opposition and bring our nation one step closer to democracy.”
The Reform Party also posted on Facebook, writing, “The Reform Party is pleased to see Dr. Tan’s FaceBook announcement today and to welcome him to the Opposition cause. No nation can hold its head up as a democracy unless it has a robust Opposition. Because he is a popular and immensely respected Establishment figure, Dr. Tan lends the Opposition much-needed credibility.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party-Singapore wrote, “DPP congratulates Mr. Tan Cheng Bock on the setting up of his new party, Progress Singapore Party.
According to Today, the secretary-general of the Singaporeans First Party, Tan Jee Say, expressed that his party hopes to work with Dr. Tan. Chairman of the Singapore Democratic Alliance Desmond Lim is all open to an alliance with Tan’s new party, while Goh Meng Seng, the head of People’s Power Party, stated that he would wait for Tan’s next moves.
For 26 years, Tan served as an MP for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), ending in 2006.
The application for the Progress Singapore Party was filed at the Registry of Societies on Wednesday, January 16. Such applications usually take two months for processing. According to a spokesman for the Registry, “The application requirements for a political party are similar to those for most other societies, but in addition, in particular, its membership is restricted to Singapore Citizens only.”
Should the application be approved, there will be a total of 12 political parties in Singapore.
Talk has abounded that the next General Election (GE) could be held as early as the end of 2019, even though it is technically not due until the first part of 2021.