Retired Brigadier-General Desmond Tan Kok Ming has been tipped to contest the upcoming General Election under the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) banner. Mr Tan served in the Singapore Armed Forces for over 28 years, from Dec 1988 to Jan 2017, and held the post of Chief of Staff of the General Staff (COS-GS) before he retired from the army.
The same month he left the armed forces, Mr Tan was appointed Chief Executive Director of the People’s Association (PA) – a Government statutory board, under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), that is chaired by the Prime Minister.
Mr Tan stepped down from as PA chief on Monday (15 June) and was succeeded by another retired brigadier-general Lim Hock Yu. The 49-year-old’s resignation from the PA and his departure from the public service has fuelled speculation that he will be fielded as a PAP candidate in the upcoming elections.
Grassroots sources who spoke to the Straits Times said that Mr Tan could be among the PAP’s slate of candidates for the upcoming election. The ex-PA chief’s participation in online forums between residents and grassroots leaders in recent months have also sparked rumours that he would be fielded under the ruling party banner.
There is also speculation that Mr Tan may be fielded in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, after his name was tagged and highlighted by the ward’s anchor minister, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, in Facebook posts on grassroots matters and discussions with PAP activists.
Mr Tan refused to comment on his next move when asked whether his departure from the public service indicates a planned entry into politics. Claiming that his resignation from the PA is part of the authority’s leadership renewal process, he told the Straits Times that he hopes to continue serving Singapore “in other capacities”.
He said: “I have some plans in mind and (these) will firm up in time. I also hope to continue to serve the community in other capacities. In the meantime, I will be spending more time with my family.”
Speculation that the next election may be called as soon as July continue to abound. Heavyweight PAP ministers, in the meantime, have hinted that an election is around the corner. Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that there is “not much time” left for the election while Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat urged the people to be prepared for elections that are “coming nearer by the day.”