A recent video of a short speech by Dr Tan Cheng Bock has been circulating on social media.
In the video, he had expressed his wish to re-enter parliament because he wants to seek accountability and transparency over the reserves and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) from the government.
“I go in because I want accountability. I want transparency. What’s happening to our reserves? Are our reserves all gone? Don’t know. What happened to our CPF?” Dr Tan asked.
“Now these things, we all can shout until the cows come home [but it’s] no use, if you’re not in the House.”
Always putting Singaporeans first
Dr Tan was with the PAP in his early years of politics. Despite being a backbencher, he fought hard for Singaporeans.
In 1999, when Singapore was just beginning to recover from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the PAP government pushed for a stronger intake of foreign talents to work in Singapore. Dr Tan gave a speech in Parliament calling the government to think of our own Singaporeans first (“‘Let’s think of our own first’ call“, ST 9 Mar 1999).
Dr Tan urged the government to tone down repeated calls on the need to attract foreign talents and to put Singaporeans’ interests first. He wanted the government to reassure Singaporeans that they would come first in Governments plans. However, Dr Tan was strongly rebutted by then Minister of Trade and Industry George Yeo and even earned a stern rebuke from Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
He was also instrumental in convincing the Ministry of National Development to allow Singaporeans to park their cars for free in Housing Development Board (HDB) estates on Sundays and public holidays, so as to promote family togetherness.
Even though Dr Tan was a member of PAP, by no means he would support the party blindly. This can be seen during the debate on the Nominated Member of Parliament Scheme, which was introduced by the PAP government to allow for the appointment of non-elected MPs to provide supposedly, alternative nonpartisan views in the House.
The NMPs are shortlisted by a Special Select Committee of Parliament from a list of candidates nominated by the public. In reality, the PAP government is hoping that with the scheme, the NMPs would supposedly give alternative views in Parliament and thereby, reducing the need for Singaporeans to vote for more opposition MPs.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock was vehemently against the NMP scheme on grounds that MPs have to be elected by the people and be accountable to the electorate. He spoke up strongly against the scheme and voted against it in June 1997 and April 2002.
Forming a new party
In any case, Dr Tan and 11 other “like-minded Singaporeans” have filed an application with the Registry of Societies last month to register a new political party, called the Progress Singapore Party.
He revealed that he decided to re-enter politics due to a sense of duty he felt towards Singapore, upon hearing the concerns and fears of Singaporeans.