Singapore—A report in Channel NewsAsia (CNA) showed a post-GE2020 examination from analysts on what the opposition parties can do next, now that a shift toward a bigger role for the opposition has occurred, even though only the Workers’ Party (WP) was actually able to win seats in Parliament.
However, two members from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) in Parliament taking up Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seats would serve to establish PSP’s footing in the country’s political arena. PSP’s Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa, as part of the “best losers” PSP slate that contested at West Coast GRC, have been chosen to serve as NCMPs and have an opportunity to gain an advantage for the party.
But analysts agree that what PSP must do is to grow beyond Dr Tan Cheng Bock, PSP’s well-loved and highly respected Secretary-General and to grow the “third tier” of leadership among its members. Dr Tan is, after all, 80 years old. CNA quotes Assistant Professor Walid Jumblatt Abdullah from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Social Sciences as saying, “PSP needs to go beyond Tan Cheng Bock, and the NCMP spots represent the best way to achieve that.”
Indeed, one of the criticisms of PSP is that it revolves almost solely around Dr Tan, which Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam may have been alluding to in a recent Facebook post when he wrote that Singaporean voters had given a stronger vote to the WP “with its more reasonable brand and eschewing of campaigning around a single political figure.”
And even beyond the PSP’s next tier of leaders—Ms Poa, 49, Mr Leong, 60, and Francis Yuen, 70, who will take Mr Leong’s place as Assistant Secretary-General of PSP as Mr Leong focuses on his duties as an NCMP—the next generation of party leaders must come to the fore.
CNA quotes Leonard Lim, country director for Singapore for government affairs consultancy Vriens & Partners, as saying, “There must now be a concerted effort to ride on their party’s GE2020 showing, to identify and groom the third tier of potential leaders. There should especially be a focus on identifying and bringing in younger members, given the party’s popularity among Gen Z and millennials in this election thanks to Dr Tan’s social media posts.”
This seems to be already among PSP’s aims, given its recently announced plans for party restructuring, which features the process of transitioning younger members into leadership roles. PSP will also be launching a Youth Wing and Women’s Wing.
PSP had the youngest candidate, 23-year-old Choo Shaun Ming, in the GE, a National University of Singapore (NUS) law undergraduate.
The party, which many believed was the one to watch in the GE, was launched in 2019 and had performed reasonably well in the nine constituencies where its members contested, gaining 40.86 of the vote, and performing better than older opposition parties. It came within a hair’s breadth of winning in West Coast GRC, which was no mean feat, considering that the PAP team there included two ministers, Desmond Lee and S.Iswaran. —/TISG