Singaporeans wish Tan Cheng Bock will follow Mahathir’s lead and contest the next GE as an opposition candidate

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92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad made history last night by defeating the incumbent at the polls and ushering in Malaysia’s first transition of power since independence, at the watershed 2018 Malaysian General Election.

Mahathir, who helped establish the ruling Barisan National (BN) coalition in power and served as Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, stepped out of retirement and left the ruling party to lead the opposition. Breaking the BN’s six-decade long monopoly, Mahathir beat his one-time protégé Najib Razak and is set to become the world’s oldest head of government when he is sworn in.

Mahathir’s stunning election upset has prompted many Singaporeans to express their desire to see veteran politician Dr Tan Cheng Bock contest the next General Election in Singapore as an opposition candidate.

At 78, Dr Tan is 14 years junior to Mahathir. Much like Mahathir, Dr Tan was also with the ruling party previously and served as People’s Action Party (PAP) parliamentarian for 26 years, between 1980 and 2006. He was also elected into the PAP’s Central Executive Committee in 1987 and remained a member until 1996.

During his tenure as ruling party politician, Dr Tan served as the Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committees (GPCs) for Education (1987–90), National Development (1991–95) and the Environment (1995–97), and was the Co-ordinating Chairman for all GPCs from 1987-88. He was also a member of the GPCs for Communications (1997–2000) and Defence and Foreign Affairs (2001–06).

The Ayer Rajah Single Member Constituency (SMC) Member of Parliament (MP) also led the Singapore-European Parliamentary Group between 1991 – 1996 and Singapore-SEA Parliamentary Group between 1997 – 2006. Besides this, he served as Chairman of the Jurong East Town Council from 1989 – 91, Chairman of the West Coast-Ayer Rajah Town Council from 2001 – 04, Chairman of the Bukit Timah Community Development Council from 1997 – 2000, and Chairman of the Feedback Unit at the Ministry of Community Development from 1985-89.

The medical doctor retired from the ruling party before the General Election in 2006.

In 2011, Dr Tan contested the Presidential Election. After a fierce fight with establishment favourite Tony Tan, Dr Tan lost the race to his fellow ex-PAP MP by just 0.35% of votes.

5 years passed. In March 2016, Dr Tan announced his intentions to contest the 2017 Presidential Election. Just 8 months later, in November 2016, Parliament announced new amendments to the elected presidential scheme and outlined that since there has not been a President from the Malay community for five consecutive terms, the 2017 election will be reserved for those from the Malay community.

In his constitutional challenge to the court, Dr Tan disputed the counting of the five consecutive terms and argued that if the AGC counts from President Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore’s first rightfully elected President instead of counting from President Wee Kim Wee who was an appointed president, this year’s PE would not need to be reserved in accordance to the new amendments.

Justice Quentin Loh ruled that, “Ultimately, since (the Constitution) does not fetter Parliament’s power … Parliament’s choice of (the first elected President) is a policy decision which falls outside the remit of the courts.”

Dr Tan responded that the Judge may have misconstrued the Constitutional provisions surrounding the matter and appealed the decision in Singapore’s apex court. In August last year, a panel of five Court of Appeal judges threw out his appeal to dismiss the High Court’s earlier rejection of his application after reserving judgment at the appeal hearing on 31 July 2017.

Following the apex court’s decision, Dr Tan offered to groom political candidates from any political party. He added that “quite a few” individuals have already approached him and that he will be meeting these individuals soon: “I’m prepared to mentor any political group, even PAP chaps can come to me, I’ll still mentor them. Because the objective must be very clear: you want to train people who will be good MPs. MPs who will think of Singapore first.”

As to whether he would join an opposition party in the next General Election, which must be held by 15 Jan 2021, Dr Tan said: “To be a unifying person, I think first you must have acceptance. I cannot just say well, I want to be a unifying figure…let me think more…options will not be closed off just yet.”

He added that he does not intend to start his own political party as there are already too many political parties in Singapore.

Mahathir’s historic victory has prompted Singaporeans to express their desire for Dr Tan to achieve something similar by contesting the next election from the opposition’s camp:

112 COMMENTS

    • And a real PM who cares for the well being of the majority. I was appalled and really sick to see so many coffee shop cleaners eat the leftover food by patrons nowadays. Why can’t the leaders set the minimum salary for them in order to have some basic dignity for these seniors??

    • David Ong the issue is they don’t care for the citizen. They only show they care on the surface – give us $100 voucher one time, but everyday collect ERP charges, every month collect 30% more of water charges, and everyday collect gst, haven’t mention about Cpf yet. “We the citizen of Spore” kenna cut throat every day till the grave. No heart for the people, this garmen.

    • No more Lee as PM, enough. So sad to see the elderly working as Cleaners in coffee shops. Is this what we call first world country? A cleaner in Scandinavian earns €5k, a bus driver in Taiwan earns S$4k. We truly need a compassionate govt that cares for the well-being of its citizens and not enriching themselves and their cronies.

  1. Frankly, looking at politics around the world. Only a breakaway faction or individual from a longtime ruling party can form an opposition party credible enough to fight. Not the political activists, not the non-mainstream media talkers, not the human rights champion. Dr Tan could be the guy. In the past, there were rumors of retired PAP Ministers or MPs wanting to take things on. But they passed on without the breath to fight politics.

  2. Yes, I m in favour of Dr Tan Cheng Bock to do his part for SG like what DR M has done in Msian GE. We need experienced and well-known former SG leaders to come out for the next GE here. He will be well received and supported by SG citizens.

  3. As much as I love if SG can replicate the same in Malaysia for next Sgpore GE, but many Singaporeans (oppo supporters) just do NOT seem to understand the situation on the ground are quite different between SG and Malaysia. For a start, they Malaysia never have any period in MY history where there is ZERO opposition. in SG , BS (Barisan Socialis) boycott of pap in 1960s cause Sgpore to have zero Opposition MP in parliament for around 20 decades until 1980s , allowing PAP to solidify control in many aspects of gov’t , union, and media and laws/ judges etc. including amending constitution to their favour and making Sgporean seems very used to fact of PAP controlling everything and parliament is all 1 voice and LKY / PAP is the sole contributing leader ./parties and no others are suitable to rule in at least the subconscious level ( in addition to their media brainwashing)

    Secondly, what most Sgporeans don’t realise it Malaysian opposition (overall) is way stronger than SG opposition parties (as a whole) , this got to do with my point 1 (first paragraph) where there has always been some significant opposition presence in malaysian parliament since independence (at least about 10 to 20 percent of federal parliament SEATs, NOT votes, % of opposition Votes during GE don’t matter at all in parliament) ,
    and also , malaysia is very big in size, it is very difficult for BN and UMNO to truly snuff out opposition fully as if it is all in 1 single city zone like Singapore (e.g. via Control of local media or control of local resources and political turfs and people with political influences ) . there will always be some areas with opposition . the resulting outcome is Malaysia always is more free in terms of media and protest control compared to SG, especially in recent decades., their bersih protest (SIZE and SCALE ) is scary if u compare to those HLP crowd we have in SG.

    Lastly, many Singaporean opposition supporters don’t realise that Malaysia opposition have actually made solid progress in past 2 decades or so, they have since 2008 or even earlier GE HAD already DENIED BN 2/3 majority in parliament, that ensured 2 things : Firstly, BN (i.e. ruling party) cannot further anyhow change constitution in ruling party / coalition’s favour ,

    Secondly, there is now SUFFICIENT Opposition parties MPs and opposition can now truly present stance of “Gov’t in waiting” or ALTERNATIVE gov’t to the people. this is in contrast to case of SG parliament, WP only have 5 or 6 MPs with FULL VOTING powers (i.e. cannot Count those PAP granted fake MPs like NCMPs, NMPs etc.) , if you don’t even have slightly over 1/3 minority (denied Gov’t 2/3 majority) , how could you convince people that you could have any DECENT chance/probability of Winning next Election or even Gather ENOUGH CANDIDATES for next election anyway!???!

    SG opposition supporters should instead of dreaming of Change gahmen, should focus on most important role of Increasing Opposition presence in Parliament to First deny PAP of 2/3 majority or if that is still not possible, increase as many Opposition MP as possible in next or coming GE. Thinking of Changing Gov’t is good but quite impractical / pointless at current stage

    • I think the opposition parties should learn from what Tun Mahathir did in the recently MYGE that is joining forces for the sake of country and it’s citizens… really respect what he did, at the age of 93 he should have seat back and enjoy the years that he still have on earth but yet he back again as the PM just to make things right for the county and people… that my friend is what I call serving the country not own pocket…

    • without Dr Mahathir. i don’t think it will be possible for this major swing of malays towards PH or opposition (which failed in 2 previous GE as it seems only the Chinese / indians swing ) . he is the KEY factor as malays in heartland and rural still trust him as malay leader. he is not full equivalence of LKY in malaysia but the very closest to LKY for he rule for over or around 2 decades.

    • he is likely the KEY crucial Factor why this time it is finally possible. without the heartland rural malays, it will probably just be a fantasy dream >>>
      quote: Mahathir “has the capabilities to bring in and influence people … just like Anwar,” Wan Saiful said. “He is very attractive among the rural voters who feel Pakatan Harapan (the opposition pact) has not been defending the rights of the Malays,” he said, referring to the country’s majority race, which forms the bulk of the electorate.
      https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/08/asia/mahathir-back-in-politics-intl/index.html

    • For me as a Malaysian, Singapore Opposition Party if they realise, actually have advantage and chance better than Malaysian Oppo. 100% urban population, highly educated society, no race and religion based party, and so on, easy to optimise the strength. Unlike Malaysia to damn complex, to many ideology.

  4. Break one chop stick is easy as compared to breaking a bundle. Everyone claim to fight for a better life for SG. Hello real or not. If you truly willing to donate half your earnings to the poor and needy than do so. Or any Tom, Dick and Hairy (pun intended) willing to set aside all differences and unit together, than you all stand a 50.1% chance. And don’t have check me up. I am merely a simple guy with no brain

  5. I agree with you Boon Huat Tan. In addition most Sinkies are fearful of voting for the opposition n the PAP government is an expert in pushing the fear button. SG is far behind MY in political maturity so voting in an opposition at the next election is very unrealistic. I have asked many times n there have been no answer or solution: how do you increase the 30% of the opposition vote n 5 opposition MPs in a 86 seat parliament? In politics it’s a numbers game.

  6. Dr Mahathir is likely the KEY crucial Factor why this time it is finally possible. without the heartland rural malays, it will probably just be a fantasy dream >>>
    quote: Mahathir “has the capabilities to bring in and influence people … just like Anwar,” Wan Saiful said. “He is very attractive among the rural voters who feel Pakatan Harapan (the opposition pact) has not been defending the rights of the Malays,” he said, referring to the country’s majority race, which forms the bulk of the electorate.
    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/08/asia/mahathir-back-in-politics-intl/index.html

  7. without Dr Mahathir. i don’t think it will be possible for this major swing of malays towards PH or opposition (which failed in 2 previous GE as it seems only the Chinese / indians swing ) . he is the KEY factor as malays in heartland and rural still trust him as malay leader. he is not full equivalence of LKY in malaysia but the very closest to LKY for he rule for over or around 2 decades.

  8. Below is my response to Jasen Lee. Copied and pasted here for general readership. Thank you.

    Jasen Lee. True, Tan Cheng Bock was a mere ex pap mp. Cannot compare to mahathir, an ex pm of Malaysia. I think the in-principle here is about the spirit to fight and right the wrongs that Malaysians has been suffering under the leadership of Najib and his cronies. Corruption and briberies, even the US called it kleptocracy at its worst.

    Coming back to TCB. His leadership in a coalition of opposition parties, WP and SDP, COMBINED, could spell the end of majority rule in parliament. Opposition coalition under TCB leadership will not have the ability to form the next government. But at least we don’t have 84 yay sayers against 5 naysayers in parliament!!

    Edited to add: I am not saying pap is corrupted and is, or are practicing cronyism. But having the majority power in parliament to pass legislation without any contest, even amending the constitution, is a dangerous move as far as democracy is concerned. Now, democracy, doesn’t ends the moment citizens vote is cast! It should continue and prevail in parliament!

  9. I’m not pro PAP, but I think it is impossible for at least the next 10 to 15 years. Unlike the previous Malaysian government, our government has not messed up sufficiently to provoke overwhelming unhappiness from the majority in Singapore. And frankly speaking, there is simply no one in Singapore who possess the same charisma as Dr Mahathir. If there is one, the opposition might have won long ago.

  10. Nothing less than the Istana will satisfy Tan Chin Bok. Furthermore how can one compare Tan to Tun. The contrasting track records of these two men speak for themselves. While both men are charismatic, Tan lacks political leadership. Tun is a trail blaster Regrettably there is no way Tan can do a Tun to unite Singapore Oppositions to upstage the PAP in a general election. Tan would have done that donkey years ago when he was whimpering away about his displeasure with the PAP, about his omission from the Istana garden party guest list. Having said all that I must add that Tan is a jolly nice fellow.

  11. Boon Huat Tan. .. don’t worry, God will make it POSSIBLE FOR SINGAPOREANS. I AM PRETTY CONFIDENT THAT SOMETHING WILL BE SHAKEN IN SG. Today, I cried like a baby during lunchtime for no reasons. The spirit of God was grieving through me for Sg. There’s too much oppression and BULLYING in Sg by the dishonorable devil party. God will get even with them. JUST WATCH THE SHOW.

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