Dr Tan Cheng Bock has spoken for the first time since 7 opposition party leaders asked him to lead a coalition of opposition parties. He acknowledged that the leaders contested the previous elections because “they believed they acted in Singapore’s best interests.” But said, “I think some may also need to stand down and serve from the backroom if it is for the good of the country.”
Referring to political scientist and academic Derek da Cunha’s comments that Dr Tan will be “tarnishing his reputation” by “mixing with this particular group”, Dr Tan pointed to Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Dr Paul Tambyah and said he “is a 1st rate human being and doctor who cares for the country.”
Adding: “I find it hard to label him otherwise. I believe that the men and women I met yesterday, were more than willing to make way for better men and women who would stand in their place. They have guts. They have put themselves out there. That is sufficient for the moment.”
Dr Tan’s statement in full:
“SINGAPORE’S INTEREST MUST ALWAYS COME FIRST
Yesterday I had a meeting with 7 opposition parties (Singapore Democratic Party, the People’s Power Party, the Democratic Progressive Party, the Reform Party, the National Solidarity Party, the Singaporeans First Party and a new, as yet, unregistered People’s Voice Party). These parties have something in common: they are all political veterans without a single seat in parliament for the last decade. They had a frank discussion on their shortcomings and aspirations. I was invited as an Observer.
The 7 parties proposed an opposition coalition and asked me to lead them. They know they have fallen short at the last GE. Wanting to do better, they sought my thoughts. I told them that to do better, Singapore’s interest MUST ALWAYS come first – ahead of self and even their own party’s interest. To be fair, many from the 7 parties stood in past elections because they believed they acted in Singapore’s best interests. But I think some may also need to stand down and serve from the backroom if it is for the good of the country.
One commentator recently said these 7 parties are 3rd, 4th and 5th rate politicians, and that if I mix with them, my reputation will be tarnished. I’m curious what yardstick the commentator has used to measure these men. I know men like Paul Tambayah is a 1st rate human being and doctor who cares for the country. I find it hard to label him otherwise. I believe that the men and women I met yesterday, were more than willing to make way for better men and women who would stand in their place. They have guts. They have put themselves out there. That is sufficient for the moment.
Right now, the 7 parties have asked for my help. They are not the only ones who have spoken to me. 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.”
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