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“PAP is the politics of fear and reward” – Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s speech to supporters goes viral

The opposition leader said that a trustworthy political system must be based on transparency, accountability and independence

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A recording of a speech opposition leader Dr Tan Cheng Bock recently made has been going viral on messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Some have speculated that the nearly two minutes-long audio clip was recorded at Dr Tan’s recent meet-the-people session on 9 May.

In the audio clip, Dr Tan can be heard saying that the building of this country is a shared effort and that he has always said that he has “got no monopoly of ideas.” The veteran politician then recounted how some have told him that they would not vote for the opposition if they were to go to the polls today.

When Dr Tan pressed and asked why they would not vote for the opposition, some told him that it is because they feel the opposition’s politics is a “politics of anger and envy.”

Indicating that he disputes this, Dr Tan countered: “PAP is the politics of fear and reward.” He added: “For me, I said we must evolve a trusted political system based on transparency, accountability and independence.”

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Dr Tan continued: “And to do that, I must get the processes correct. These processes require good people because [otherwise] it is no use. I can write a beautiful manifesto which will please a few of these people but the actual ground work has to be done.

“So it is important that your fundamentals must be correct and also [when we] do it that way, we will develop trust with the people and then we can function very well.”

Listen to the audio recording circulating online here:

Dr Tan is a former ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) and served as parliamentarian for 26 years between 1980 to 2006. During his time in parliament, Dr Tan became the first non-cabinet minister elected into the PAP Central Executive Committee (1987–96).

In 2011, Dr Tan contested that year’s Presidential Election (PE) and lost by less than 0.35 per cent to establishment favourite and fellow ex-PAP MP Tony Tan. He was barred from contesting the next PE when the government reserved the 2015 PE for Malay-Muslim candidates, months after Dr Tan had announced his intention to contest the election.

Last year, Dr Tan was invited to lead an opposition coalition. Revealing that he had given this serious thought, Dr Tan shared in March 2019 that he ultimately decided to form his own opposition party with other ex-PAP cadres because doing so felt “right” to him.

Dr Tan revealed that he decided to form his own political party due to a sense of duty he felt towards Singapore, after hearing people’s concerns and fears during his interactions with ordinary Singaporeans on the ground.

Explaining that he chose to form his own party instead of joining an established opposition banner, leading an opposition coalition, or running as an independent, Dr Tan said that he looks forward to “working with others in the opposition who are passionate about putting country first – before either party or self.”

He added: “At 78 years, I have a short window that I intend to use mentoring and developing future Parliamentarians who will work for the good of our nation.”

In a more recent speech that was shared on social media, Dr Tan asserted that he wants to re-enter parliament because he seeks accountability and transparency over the reserves and the Central Provident Fund (CPF). He said:

“I go in because I want accountability. I want transparency. What’s happening to our reserves? Are our reserves all gone? Don’t know. What happened to our CPF?

“Now these things, we all can shout until the cows come home [but its] no use, if you’re not in the House.”

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