Singapore — The leader of the Progress Singapore Party, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, does not want to commit himself just yet on the leadership of an alliance of opposition parties because he focusing on building his own team.
Dr Tan made these remarks to journalists during a walkabout at Teban Gardens Market and Food Centre on Sunday (Jan 12), according to TODAY Online.
The proposed opposition alliance comprises the Singaporeans First party (SingFirst), the Reform Party (RP), the People’s Power Party (PPP) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). SingFirst Secretary-General Tan Jee Say, seemingly taking the helm, has invited Dr Tan to lead the alliance.
Last week, Mr Tan told TODAY that the alliance was looking forward to Dr Tan agreeing to lead it and that it was planning to apply to the Registry of Societies within the month and hoped for approval to be given in March.
Mr Tan also said that the number of candidates to be fielded by the alliance in the coming elections had not been finalised but that “the 4 initial parties in this proposed alliance contested in 6 GRCs and 1 SMC in the last GE”. A report in The Straits Times (ST) on Jan 3 stated that the alliance intended to field 30 candidates.
TODAY quotes Dr Tan as saying: “I have met all these people but I don’t want to commit myself just yet because I’m still building my own team properly first. They are all entitled to do what they want.”
Dr Tan reiterated, however, that he was still open to the idea of an alliance.
He added: “Very likely we all want to see us come together but the form, the manner, the way in which we are going to come together is all still open.”
Dr Tan’s PSP is the country’s newest political party, having been formalised only last year. The veteran politician, who will be turning 80 this April, served as a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 2006, when he was with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
Talk about an opposition coalition began in July 2018, when Dr Tan was invited to help in leading the endeavor to forge an alliance with leaders from other opposition parties in a closed-door meeting spearheaded by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
The meeting was attended by SingFirst, RP, PPP, DPP, the National Solidarity Party and the People’s Voice party.
Dr Tan expressed a willingness to lead an opposition alliance at that point. He said: “If you want me to lead, then we must think of (the) country first. If we go in, we must go in as a team.”
In September last year, Dr Tan said he was open to partnering with other opposition parties, saying that a coalition should first maintain a relationship of understanding.
He enjoined the leaders of political parties to be “flexible” in their relations with the leaders of other parties, and told opposition politicians to “keep it open and never close all your options”. -/TISG