The Progress Singapore Party is ready to field a slate of candidates across both Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) even if the election is held next month, according to 79-year-old party leader Dr Tan Cheng Bock.
In a recent interview with the Straits Times, the former ruling party Member of Parliament (MP) added that he is strongly considering whether to contest West Coast GRC, which has absorbed his Ayer Rajah stronghold.
Dr Tan is the very first ex-People’s Action Party (PAP) parliamentarian to start his own opposition party in Singapore’s history. He was MP for Ayer Rajah Single Member SMC from 1980 to 2006.
A beloved politician, Dr Tan gained the highest margin of victory for the PAP in his last election as a PAP candidate in 2001, with 88 per cent of votes. During his time with the PAP, he also mentored younger politicians like Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.
In the coming election, Dr Tan will be clashing with his former party as the leader of the PSP – an opposition party that is making waves in Singapore, despite the fact that it is the newest political party in Singapore, having been founded in January this year.
On whether he intends to contest West Coast GRC, Dr Tan told the paper that it is a ward he will “consider strongly”. He, however, noted that there are many other “interesting places” he and his team could contest.
Dr Tan said: “That (Ayer Rajah) is a good consideration, because I’m familiar with the area. They ask me ‘Doc, are you coming back?’ and I joke ‘Ya, I’m coming home’.”
The PSP will have to discuss its plans with other opposition parties before it makes a final decision on where to contest. Dr Tan said that the PSP will discuss its intentions with the other political parties, some of which have already indicated where they plan to contest.
Opposition parties will need to wait for the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) to release its report to find out how the electoral boundaries have been re-drawn and decide which wards to target. The parties would need to discuss their preferred wards amongst themselves, to avoid multiple-corner fights so that the opposition vote is not split.
The Reform Party, which is led by Kenneth Jeyaretnam – the son of late veteran opposition politician, J.B. Jeyaretnam, is eyeing West Coast GRC. The party, which contested the ward in the 2011 and 2015 General Elections, has already been conducting walkabouts in the constituency in anticipation of the next election.
The PSP, in the meantime, is gearing up for its very first island-wide walkabout this Sunday (29 Sept).
The party has yet to announce the timing, meeting point and details on regions that will be covered in the walkabout but the event could give observers a clue as to which wards the PSP might contest in the next election.