The Online Citizen

New political party SFP made up of mainly former civil servants

New political party SFP made up of mainly former civil servants
May 25
18:23 2014

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.

tan jee sayMr 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

SingFirst Manifesto

  • Paul R

    TJS is trying to fob his way through – it obviously has nothing to do with ‘treat(ing) all Singaporeans as equal’.

    The phrase ‘Singaporeans First’ definitely has xenophobic undertones since it is a comparisons between Singaporeans and non-citizens. It is used by SFP as a unimaginative and unsophisticated populism tool merely and solely to attract votes.

    • kampong boy

      How is it that “comparisons between Singaporeans and non-citizens” means it “has xenophobic undertones”?

      Please elaborate, thanks.

    • J.

      Unimaginative yes. But, democratic? Yes too. It is only xenophobic if you interpret it that way. Every other fully-fledged democracy (UK, EU, Australia, USA etc) has its own share of nationalist parties which legitimately represent a group of people or interests as such. I’m sure there is a burgeoning nationalistic strata in Singapore at the moment and TSJ is smart enough to catch on with his left-wing policies.

      Of course there are loonies like Pauline Hanson of Queensland Aus in the 1990s, but let the democratic process decide whether they stay or not!

  • Andrew Leung

    I hope more people will join SFP. Tan Jee Say should take on PM Lee.

  • rofusr

    10 years ago, whatever the government said ….. we generally agreed. The opposition parties at that time were seen as troublemakers (anti-everything-PAP, fight for Singapore’s democracy, fight for civil rights, etc). But 10 years later, today whatever the government said ….. we cringed and disagreed vehemently. The government is so disconnected from the general public that they don’t even understand why people are STILL complaining about cost of living and problems of foreign workers and immigrants. They use data and statistics to try to convince the people that “there is no problem”. They are not listening with the heart. Now whatever the opposition parties said ….. we all agreed because they are saying the same things that everyone is troubled about. This SFP will gain momentum, because the PAP has lost connection with the people.

    • PikuChoo

      The current govt are like pilots flying the plane right into a mountain because instead of looking out the window to confirm, they are steadfastly staring at their instruments (which happen to be faulty but they never considered that possibility).

      The passengers are screaming but the pilots and crew don’t give a damn because they are “always” right.

      Flight SQ-SINGAPORE is currently on a parabolic trajectory into another part of the deep ocean…. Unfortunately for Singaporeans/passengers, the replacement “crew” above does not inspire ANY confidence in me (at least)….unfortunately.

    • GUSSIE91

      dude…………10 years ago, we were labelled robot, 5 years ago we were labelled DAFT.
      The next 10 years after GE 2016, we will be labelled ourselves as as DAFT servants if PAP wins more than 61%.
      Please vote wisely.

  • Alex

    I certainly hope they put more effort into their manifesto. As much as I want to see the current administration shaken up and replaced by a more fitting political party, to create policies based on capitalising on general unhappiness and dissatisfaction is not the same as having a better plan and better ideas.

    I question whether such policies are sustainable in a financial sense and I compare it to something similar as offering a carrot that seems more appealing than the ones currently on offer.

    I don’t want a people pleaser to replace the current people ignorers. I want responsible, capable and far-sighted alternatives. That I can rely on to institute sustainable, long-term policies. One of the chief failings with the PAP is that they have most often been reactive rather than pro-active. This manifesto seems very reactive.

    I don’t want an administration that wins on a landslide of “popular” policies that create an untenable or unsustainable position for future administrations. Thats not progress. They must be coupled with ideas to take us further.

    Yes we have reserves currently, and I want an adminstration willing to share and give back to the people. But they must also possess the ability to balance the scales between all the needs of all sections of society (because we are dependent on each other in the current economic and social climate).

    Majulah Singapura

    “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.”

  • Hardtruth1

    Thank you Mr Tan for putting Singaporeans first.

    Your sacrifice is being appreciated and your hard work will mean having you and your professional team in the next parliament.

    • GUSSIE91

      I like your boot shoes……………but the logo?

      • sglady

        Yup, they should change the logo. It reminds me of “Wall’s” logo. Too sweet. Design of a logo is very important!

  • TigerBalm123

    This is bad news, IMO. It will result in a 3 (or even 4) way fight with a predictable winner.

    • liangjwc1

      Whether 3 or 4 corner fights yet to be seen but not every result is like P. East.
      Still remember the Presidential election? Very divided, what else?

  • Darren

    The naming is well, draws some questions, and the manifesto could be a lot further expanded. However, the forming of this party provokes some thoughts.
    1) TJS and crew have strong convictions on their own ideas. They do not want to toe another party’s line. Which is a good thing. No point joining someone whom you don’t believe in.
    2) Despite talk that 3 or 4 cornered fights are no good for the opposition, they went ahead to form this party. And I do agree. Giving people another choice is definitely good. The idea that oppositions have to unite, merge, give way to each other so that the PAP can be ousted at all costs makes no sense. If an opposition has the conviction that THEY are the ones who can do the best job, they should compete and the people can still choose the best team, eg. Punggol East. If TJS and his team prove good, its one more viable choice for us. This is better than just to say “anything but PAP”, without a thought for the future, as what a lot of people do.
    3) What is the purpose of computing the percentage of members who are ex – scholars, civil servants or PAP members. Its well known that TJS is from the PAP anyway.
    We’ll have to see how good they are, but it would probably not be surprising to some if I go on to comment that is a lot better, and a more proper way to raising an alternative voice than the Roy Ngerng saga currently ongoing.

    • Chin

      1) Very optimistic assumptions
      2) Yup. Like when Jee Say joined the race for president. Great variety. Not like it mattered actually. The non Tony Tan bunch weren’t actually pushing anything remotely unique from each other anyway. As you said, no real harm having another party. Except when all the parties so far don’t really differ from each other. When Party A, B, C, D, E …. Z don’t really differ much from each other you have a real problem. And that’s what we have! Just people who oppose. So a party is not what we need. It’s TALENT. It’s PEOPLE.
      3) Maybe it gives them a bit more credibility? In contrast to a vast majority of people who just pull facts out from their imagination.

  • Richard Woo

    For me any opposition party is still better than the PAPy party. Just VETO the PAPy party out in 2016. Then, perhaps, there will be opportunities for making life better for Singaporeans.

    • rofusr

      It’s like going to see a doctor for headache. You approach your PAP MP or Minister and complained (about cost of living, foreign immigrants) that you have a headache. The MP or Minister will tell you that “…. you DON’T have a headache”, because all data and statistics proved that you DON’T have a headache. Now go home and rest.

      You approach your opposition party MP and complained (about cost of living, foreign immigrants) that you have a headache. The opposition MP will say, “….. of course you have headache. In fact I have the same headache as you so I know how you feel right now”.

      I have a headache. How can the PAP MP or Minister come and tell me that I don’t have a headache?? Do they know how I feel inside my head? Do they listen with their heart? Or they just quote official government statistics to tell me that everything is fine. My headache is only a “perception”, and we need highly qualified MP candidates to communicate the government’s policies to me and tell me that in fact I don’t have a headache.

      But I know I have a headache. And the opposition MP agreed with me and spoken about the same headache. Who should I vote?

    • Chin

      This is idealistic nonsense. Looking at parties right now, we have good speakers, rabble rousers and the very clueless. What the opposition lacks right now is not another party. They need more talented people in their midst. They need to unite. No matter how much I dislike the PAP, come election I’m not going to just vote for the opposition everyman, or even the very good speaker. I’ll vote the guy that knows what he’s doing.

      I voted opposition the previous election, even though the SDP blokes there really didn’t look like they have a clue besides being able to shake hands, talk loudly and state the obvious. Why? Because it’s really unlikely they’ll end up getting into govt. If you want to get the 60% to vote out PAP, you need credible people. You need talent. Remember how Tony Tan won the presidency instead of Tan Cheng Bock? Because people with no business running popped out of the woodwork and diluted the votes. More opposition parties = smaller pie = more likely for PAP to wriggle themselves into govt. It’s a pointless game of I want to play leader.

      And the SFP manifesto. Very nice words. Not the first time they’ve been said though. Can they deliver? No idea, talk is cheap. How different are they from the other parties? You know, besides them all being opposition. Does our political scene really need a new party? No, it’s not like we don’t already have so many.

  • Karmic Retribution

    Written especially for Mr. Tan Jee Say and for his new supporters……This is to commemorate the birth of our new future in Singapore per se … …”In the stillness of a starry night, 5 bright stars filled our shores in shimmering light. From its celestial horizon, arose a crescent moon, glowing steadily towards the stars as if to swoon. They finally merged in common stride, in unison they became our“Our National Pride”. Our skies turned red and our shores went white. The four races of our society FINALLY unite … Now the red and white, the crescent moon and stars ignite, a passion … simmering in memory ever so bright. We joined our hands as WE HAD DONE BEFORE … … THIS IS WHO WE ARE AND THIS IS WHO WE WILL ALWAYS BE…. SINGAPOREANS TO THE VERY CORE….We are Singapore … This is a sincere and dedicated wish from many SG’s who share a common bond for the “SINGAPOREANS FIRST PARTY”… … … Welcome to you Mr. Tan Jee Say, no doubt your road will be rough and filled with many obstacles and booby traps…BUT! You have been there and done that….so no worries there. Good Luck to you Sir. I hope this little prose, which is dedicated to you and your team will be the impetus to rally the troops. The catalyst waits in many different fronts for a reunited Singapore. … “Our 5 stars and Crescent Moon on Red & White will be hoisted again with pride. Good luck again, now please go and win your war… …

    • Chin

      What, is Tan Jee Say the Messiah?

      • liangjwc1

        He is not Messiah but at least he did something.
        How about you and me?

  • Mawson Rubenstein

    the party from people previously associated with PAP who have obviously taken the red pill to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes. PAP people- wake up! Good to see that there are many ex-PAP people who dare to stand up for the people.

  • godspeed

    Tan Jee Say? Sorry hor. But he sabo the Presidential Elections and let KFC win. So he got no more credibility already.

    • Arnold_Chong

      Singaporeans want change.
      And Mr Tan Jee Say is obviously a very credible candidate should he stand for elections.

      • SJT

        He stood twice and lost both times. Not sure if this publicity hungry person is doing it for the right reasons.

      • rofusr

        You say he is “obviously a very credible candidate”?? You don’t need to promote your boss here.

  • Pris

    We have got other parties running for elections and whatsnot, but most of them do not have much up in their sleeves apart from opposing and people know that. the only reason people, especially younger generations vote for the opposition is not because they think the oppositions are good, but rather want to shake the PAP up and get them back to their senses, (though we know it’s not working and got threatened instead).

    I’m not interested in whether you are a ex civil servants or grassroot leader. This shows nothing, because most MPs were ex grassroot leaders and civil servants who had their heads blown up big and lost touch with the ground after few years. Talk is cheap. There’s two years left, let’s see what you can do in these 2 years till the next GE, and what you are continuing to do after that.

    • Chin

      They really don’t have anything. Only nice words. Said by pretty much everyone already. I wanted to vote for WP, but last election I only had SDP clowns. And now some of these clowns left SDP and set up SFP. Deja vu much?

      Singaporeans First is a nice concept and very populist for sure. But we all know managing this requires balance. You can’t chase out all the foreigners – then who will build our condos and what naught? Make this place tough for foreigners – would the big MNCs and large consumer brands stay? Can we maintain foreign investment? Maybe not – how do we make them stay and yet not discriminate against our locals?

      Balance. It’s difficult to govern a country. And much easier to mess things up. Words are very easy to say. They need to be able to deliver to Singaporeans and yet not screw things up too much. Much more to do than shout and oppose. We all can oppose very well on our keyboards.

      • PikuChoo

        The problem is the govt got greedy and tried to make Singapore punch wayyyyy above our weight class so much so that we lost our boxing gloves.

        It is like the guy trying to keep up with the proverbial Joneses and got deeper and deeper into debt. And now, the repo man is about to pay a visit….

        Our govt thinks their PWP plan is that magical line of credit that will get them out of their “hole”. But unfortunately, it (the PWP) is just another loanshark creditor – likely the last.

  • rofusr

    I hope our Prime Minister is wise enough to sense that at this rate, the overall votes for PAP in 2016 general election is going to drop further to 55% (from 75% to 66% to 60% last election). Everyone knows that ….. and I suspect he knows that too.

    When the people continue to complain about high cost of living, the MPs and Ministers said data showed inflation is low and real income has risen. So you don’t have a problem. When the people complained about foreign workers and immigrants affecting our jobs and driving up housing costs, the MPs and Ministers said we need them “for low-skilled labor”. When people complained about expensive housing and expensive cars …… we have MP-elect saying “everyone has a car, I have two”. PAP is totally disconnected from the people.

    55% votes does not mean that we support the opposition. Rather we disagreed and wanted to use our votes to tell PAP what they didn’t want to hear for past 5 years.

    • Arnold_Chong

      Sorry bro,. 55% means more Singaporean want a change of government.

      You don’t expect the people who created the mess to solve it do you?

      • rofusr

        You are being too obvious as opposition party supporter calling to overthrow the PAP government. Anyway it is still the same. People are expecting lower votes 55% or lower even before the next election. Everyone agrees on that.

        • Chin

          I don’t believe any local born Singaporean actually opposes for the sake of opposing. I believe opposition supporters do so solely because they don’t like how the PAP is running things. You may not like the opposition parties and do not wish to be identified with them, but rofusr, you do oppose the way the PAP is running things. This means that you effectively support the opposition.

          I hope you understand you’re contradicting yourself.

          • rofusr

            You are contradicting yourself. I don’t like the way PAP is running things now, but that does not mean I support the opposition. Make that clear. You are too obvious as a member of the opposition party. Exactly the reason why I don’t support the opposition. You are too extreme.

          • Chin

            You should check the dictionary on ‘contradiction’, which is the noun form of the verb contradict. It serves no purpose to be parroting what I say. It might be nice to go back to school and pick up your English textbooks again. You should also read up on nuances and synonyms.

    • GUSSIE91

      are u a PAP strong supporter at present?
      I did, 20 years ago……………

  • Arnold_Chong

    PM Lee unveils new ‘Singaporeans-first’ policies

    By Alicia Wong | SingaporeScene – Mon, Aug 15, 2011

    Tackling head on Singaporeans’ unhappiness over foreign workers and immigrants, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday outlined several new measures in housing, education, healthcare and jobs to relieve citizens from the pressure of the influx of foreigners.

    In his 90-minute National Day Rally speech in English at the University Cultural Centre, he said while Singaporeans understand the logic of the foreign talent policy, they still feel the emotional impact.

    “These are policies where the benefits are there but they are long term, the downsides are immediate, the side effects are visible, people react to them and we have to respond to this.”

    “I empathise with this. And we are acting to relieve the pressures and make clear we are putting Singaporeans first,” he stressed…….

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  • Andrew Leung

    Singaporeans First Press Conference on 25 May 2014

  • sglady

    Perhaps a good thing to have another party FOR Singapore(ans). At the moment, it is hard to say what positive effects it might bring. I don’t really care right now. I just want to see less “low class foreigners” in Singapore. Give me back my Singapore, it used to have a soul and now, it’s harder to survive and we have to contend for jobs at lower or middle level with foreigners. Along the same line, I read somewhere that there are at least one million PRCs in Singapore…that was supposedly in 2011. I do wonder if the article is factual or not though. Here is the link
    I hope the regulations to approve permanent residence and Singapore citizenship will be stricter too. I am not being xenophobic, just feel that I am proud of Singapore, and we should be stricter and more choosy when screening foreign talents.