Members of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), including secretary-general Chee Soon Juan and chairman Paul Tambyah, paid a visit to veteran politician Tan Cheng Bock on Friday (4 Oct) and had discussions concerning the impending General Election (GE).
The Government announced the first formal step towards the next GE, with the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee that was convened in August. The SDP is wasting no time in preparing for the election.
Earlier, the party revealed that it plans to contest Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, Bukit Batok SMC, Bukit Panjang SMC and Yuhua SMC at the next GE if the electoral boundaries remain the same. These are the same wards that the party contested in the 2015 GE.
Noting that Dr Tan is a Holland-Bukit Timah GRC voter, the SDP said that it was walking the ground in the constituency dropped by Dr Tan’s house “to carry on discussions about the impending GE.”
On his personal Facebook page, Dr Tan revealed that the SDP presented him with a copy of their newly-released manifesto. He added that he had a “very warm discussion about the future” with the SDP and that he was happy to touch base with the party, after his meeting with Workers’ Party members last month.
He said: “Last month, I was so glad to attend the WP National Day dinner and this month, I’m also very pleased to have the chance to sit down with the SDP. Thank you SDP, for bringing me a copy of your party’s manifesto.”
A photo from the SDP’s meeting with Dr Tan shows that his Progress Singapore Party (PSP) members – like Alex Tan Tiong Hee and Anthony Lee – were also present. SDP and PSP members posed for a photo holding both their parties’ outreach flyers:
In July last year, the SDP invited Dr Tan to help lead the effort in building coalition opposition parties and urged him to take the lead so as to present a unified front at the next GE.
The event saw participation of the SDP, the People’s Power Party, the Democratic Progressive Party, the Reform Party, the National Solidarity Party, the Singaporeans First Party and the People’s Voice Party. The SDP said that all the opposition parties present at the meeting welcomed the move.
Dr Tan, a 5-term former People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament, responded to the invitation by the opposition party leaders saying he is open to leading an alliance against his former party which has governed the country since independence.
Dr Tan responded to the call of the opposition party leaders asking him to lead them saying, “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 January, Dr Tan announced that he is returning to politics and that he has decided to form his own opposition political party due to a sense of duty he felt towards Singapore, after hearing their 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 since he felt that this was the “right” route for him, 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.”
Late last month, Dr Tan was asked whether any progress has been made since the seven parties invited him to lead an opposition coalition last year. Revealing that he accepted it at the time since he believes “getting together is a good thing,” Dr Tan said:
“I didn’t say I will accept the form (of collaboration). I was not saying that whatever they proposed is the right one.”
Declining to rule out the possibility of a coalition, Dr Tan said that the opposition parties should first maintain a relationship of understanding and that party leaders should “convince their own ground that this is a better option.”
Advising opposition politicians to “keep it open and never close all your options,” Dr Tan called on party leaders to be “flexible” in their relations with their counterparts from other opposition parties.