By Terry Xu
A new political party - The Singaporeans First Party (SFP) unveiled its party members in a press conference on 25 May held at a seafood restaurant located at East Coast Parkway.
The 11 founding members of the party includes former candidate for Presidential Election 2011, Tan Jee Say and former Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)'s candidate in the GE2011, Dr Ang Yong Guan. Only 7 out of 11 were there at the conference as the rest were overseas.
In their first public address, the new party shared their manifesto, which centred on how the party intends to improve lives of Singaporeans and to rebuild Singaporeans'self-esteem.
It wrote in its manifesto,
"The elitist policies of the Peoples' Action Party (PAP) have turned Singapore into a highly divided society with extreme inequalities of wealth and income between the rich and the poor and a shrinking middle class squeezed in between. Singapore has now become the most costly city in the world. Singapore citizens are faced with expensive housing options, high healthcare costs, unreliable and expensive public transport, and a system of education that encourages families to supplement school curriculum with private tuition at great expense. Meanwhile real wages have fallen or virtually stagnated for large groups of Singaporeans, making it difficult for many families to cope."
Key policies proposed in the manifesto include free education until university level, old age pension, increasing the government's contribution to medical expenses from one third to a two third contribution rate, unemployment insurance, and the removal of the Goods and Services Tax.
Mr Tan Jee Say said it is understandable that there would be questions about how the party would find the money to fund its proposed schemes. He said that as a former civil servant, he is familiar with figures from the government, and he is confident that a small portion of the country's surplus is able to pay off all the schemes.
Mr Tan was the head of economic and manpower planning in Ministry of Trade and Industry and served as secretary to the late Dr Albert Winsemius, the economic adviser to the Singapore Government. He was also secretary to the late Dr Goh Keng Swee. He was later appointed Principal Private Secretary to then Deputy Prime Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong.
Mr Tan was formerly from SDP but resigned from the party as he wanted to participate in the PE2011, while Dr Ang Yong Guan resigned to join Mr Tan at the new party as they were friends for more than forty years.
Two of the members, Mr Winston Lim and Fatimah Akhtar, were also formerly from another opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party. They said that there was no push factor from their former party and that it was the actions and experience of the party members in SFP which attracted them to join.
In response to questions by the media of the possibility of sounding xenophobic due to the use of the words in the party's name, "Singaporeans First", Mr Tan Jee Say said that the words were not meant to disservice foreigners or put locals at the forefront. Rather, it was meant to signify the intention to treat all Singaporeans as equal and to bring back their dignity and self-esteem.
So how confident is the party in succeeding in its political ambitions? Mr Tan Jee Say says that he is confident of success.
"It will be a black swan. A black swan is an unexpected event, so our success, we are confident that it will be a black swan. And why am I confident? we have seen many black swans in Singapore for the past few years. We have the first bus strike, we have the first riot in forty years, and we have the first escape from the high security prison, Mas Selamat and we have the Orchard Road floods. At the next election, we will see the mother of all black swans."
The party has yet to have their party registration approved by ARCA, as the submission has not been done. They will be submitting their registration to the Registrar of Societies after the press conference is held and expects the approval to be given within the 2 months period stated on ACRA's website.
The roles in the party has not been confirmed as they will only hold a meeting on this issue after the party registration has been approved.
List of the 11 founding members.
- Dr Ang Yong Guan, psychiatrist and ex grassroots leader
- Mr Michael Chia, retired engineer and volunteer social worker
- Mr Fahmi Rais, communication professional and ex-young pap and legislative assistant
- Ms Fatimah Akhtar, architect
- Dr David Foo Ming Jin, chemist, logistic professional and ex-young PAP
- Ms Jamie Lee Swee Yan, certified SAP IT professional and project manager
- Mr Winston Lim, architect and town planner
- Dr Loke Pak Hoe, director of 3 multinational educational companies
- Mr Tan Jee Say, financial adviser, ex-civil servant, banker and fund manager
- Mr David Tan L K, educationist and ex grassroots leader
- Mr Tang Peng Ann, social entrepreneur, retired SAF officer and ex-PAP grassroots leader
Of the 11 founding members:-
- 73% are ex civil servants
- 64% are scholars
- 46% are ex grassroots leaders
- 28% are ex PAP members
Attached is the manifesto of Singaporeans First Party