The presence of leaders and high profile figures from various opposition parties at former People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament and Progress Singapore Party founder Tan Cheng Bock’s Chinese New Year open house this year has made waves across social media.
The formation of the new alternative party, which involved “twelve likeminded Singaporeans”, among which included “some ex PAP cadres”, marked Dr Tan’s return to politics after what he brands as “a long absence”.
Former Chief Executive Officer of NTUC Income and former People’s Action Party member Tan Kin Lian posted a photograph at Dr Tan’s open house, and left netizens guessing as he captioned it with “Where is this party?”
Many commenters managed to guess correctly as Mr Tan revealed the location in a comment under the same post four hours later:
Founding leader of the People’s Voice Party Lim Tean, in a Facebook post, wished Dr Tan “great success for his new political party”.
Mr Lim, who is representing veteran blogger Leong Sze Hian in the controversial legal case against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, wrote: “I am sure 2019 will be a wonderful year for the Opposition parties at the upcoming GE and Singaporeans will finally have the democracy and accountability they yearn for”.
Former editor for The Independent SG and TOC, and Singapore People’s Party’s candidate for Hong Kah North in the 2015 General Election Ravi Philemon had also attended Dr Tan’s open house:
Damanhuri Bin Abas of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was also seen at Dr Tan’s CNY open house, alongside SDP chief Chee Soon Juan and Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh.
Mr Damanhuri, who contested in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in GE 2015, wrote in a Facebook post: “Doc: Today we Celebrate…. Tomorrow we Fight!!! Happy Chinese New Year Everyone!!!”
Current chief of Singapore Democratic Alliance Desmond Lim Bak Chuan was also present at the open house, and thanked Dr Tan in a Facebook post for inviting him:
In a Facebook post on Thursday (7 Feb), Dr Tan expressed his gratitude “to all friends and visitors who came to the open house” at his residence “to celebrate Chinese New Year on the 2nd day”.
“It was heartwarming to see so many people from all walks of life, races and political affiliations enjoying a festive time together under one roof,” wrote Dr Tan.
Netizens responded positively to the gathering, with many urging the various opposition political parties to merge into a coalition in order to strengthen the chances of being voted into Parliament in the upcoming General Election this year:
However, one netizen appears to be sceptical of the idea of an alternative coalition taking over the reins from the PAP, and instead suggested a more pragmatic route of having greater representation in Parliament:
Previously, Dr Tan himself has mentioned the possibility of forming a coalition of alternative parties after a meeting with seven opposition parties.
The Singapore Democratic Party, 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 had called upon Dr Tan, who was invited to the meeting as “an Observer”, to lead such a coalition.
Dr Tan stressed in a Facebook post in July last year: “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 [per]ubah[an] (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,” he concluded.