With Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s return from Japan and with his keen eye on current affairs, Singapore politics may just sizzle

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Image credit: Dr Tan CB Facebook

Dr Tan Cheng Bock who has recently returned from a two-weeks holiday in Japan said that that break has given him space and time to reflect on and assess Singapore’s current political climate. The veteran politician is widely expected to form his own political party, or join an existing one, to lead a coalition of opposition parties at the next General Election.

Writing in his Facebook, Dr Tan said:

“I recently returned from a 2 week holiday in Osaka Japan with some of my family and grandkids. While we were there, typhoon Trami was forecast to pass through our area. To prepare for the typhoon, we were told to stock up on food, water, torches and also where to take shelter if it got really bad. Fortunately for us, we were not adversely affected – though in other areas, people lost power, their houses were flooded and there were at least 2 fatalities. Our hearts go out to those affected.

As we were preparing for the oncoming typhoon, the local people were very calm and efficient. But it was quite an experience to see people buying essentials and to walk through the nearly empty rail stations. During the night, though there was heavy rain and strong wind, things passed without much incident. The next day, the sun came out and activities in the area resumed. We were very fortunate.

This 2 week break was also good for me as it gave me space and time to reflect on and assess our current political climate.”

In late September, Dr Tan encouraged good men to take an interest and serve in politics, in a new Facebook post in which he shared the quote, “The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than them.”

The quote is is a variant of Greek philosopher Plato’s saying, “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

These were the first comments Dr Tan – a former ruling party parliamentarian and ex-presidential candidate – made after a meeting in which he was invited by several members of the opposition in Singapore to unite the various opposition parties and lead them to victory against the PAP during the next election.

Seven opposition parties in Singapore came together in July and discussed forming a new coalition and having Dr Tan as their leader. The parties are the Singapore Democratic Party, the National Solidarity Party, the People’s Power Party, the Democratic Progressive Party, the Reform Party, and the yet-to-be-registered People’s Voice.

The meeting of the seven parties, organised by the SDP, came on the heels of another SDP-organised meeting where several opposition parties came together to hear Malaysian politician Chua Tian Chang speak about how the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan achieved their historic victory in the polls across the causeway during the watershed 2018 Malaysian General Election.

In May, former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad left the ruling party to band the opposition in Malaysia together. The opposition coalition soundly defeated the ruling coalition and toppled Dr Mahathir’s former protege Najib Razak who now faces corruption charges over the 1MDB scandal.

Calls for Dr Tan Cheng Bock to “do a Mahathir” resounded after the Malaysian Election. Although Dr Tan was present at the meeting with the 7 opposition parties as an observer, he has yet to give a direct answer on whether he will or won’t accept the invitation to lead an opposition coalition.

Dr Tan only said at the time:

“I think I must help but in what capacity, I have not decided.
“I am now 78 years old. I may only have a short time to mentor a team to work for the good of the nation. This is a small window of opportunity, a moment for ubah (change in Malay). I want to put my last years to good use. I want to pass all that I have acquired and learned in the political arena to the next generation.
“I would regret it if I had the chance to make a difference, but did nothing.”