The Registrar of Societies has approved, “in principle”, an application made by former presidential candidate and former People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Tan Cheng Bock to form a new political party.
In an announcement made via Facebook on Sat (16 Mar), Dr Tan wrote: “In response to the many queries on the status of the registration of Progress Singapore Party, I am pleased to share that our application was “approved-in-principle”, subject to us accepting some amendments made by the Registry of Societies to our Constitution.
“We have proposed some minor changes to the ROS’s amendments and are now waiting for their final reply.
“The Registry of Societies has been very helpful so far, and I look forward to their favorable response to our application,” he added.
Dr Tan had filed the application two months ago on 16 Jan alongside “twelve likeminded Singaporeans” including “some ex-PAP cadres”.
In a Facebook post on 18 Jan, two days after the application was made, Dr Tan announced his readiness to “return to politics after a long absence”.
“Over the years, a group of us have been walking the ground, meeting many Singaporeans from all walks of life.
“In my conversations with them, I listened to their concerns, heard their fears and felt their pain. I felt a sense of duty to come forward and represent them in Parliament.
“So I decided to form a political party to add another voice in Parliament,” he wrote.
He added that the decision to form their own political party “was not an easy one”.
“I, together with my team, studied the many options offered, like joining an existing opposition party, taking over an existing opposition party, running as an independent and so on.
“I want to thank all those who made such generous offers. I considered them all seriously and it was a difficult decision, but I feel it is the right one,” said Dr Tan.
Despite the decision to form a new political party, however, Dr Tan has expressed his willingness to work together with other opposition parties in achieving a common goal for Singapore, which is to uphold true democratic freedom for all Singaporeans.
“At 78 years, I have a short window that I intend to use mentoring and developing future Parliamentarians who will work for the good of our nation.
“We want to build a compassionate and truly democratic Singapore where good values and people matter. Freedom of choice and free speech without fear must be defended.
“We hope to be given the opportunity for Progress Singapore Party to be an alternative voice in parliament. In due course, as the party and candidates mature, we intend to be ready to govern the nation.
“In the mean time, we will work with those who share our political beliefs of country first – before either party or self,” concluded Dr Tan.
Dr Tan had previously nearly won the bid for President in 2011 which fuel the speculation that the amendments to the Constitution were made to block his reattempt at the highest office in the country.
He had announced his intention to run for Presidency in Mar 2016 before the amendments to the Elected Presidency were announced. Other than the race based contest, the increase of criteria for private candidates meant that he would no longer be qualified to stand for the election.
Dr Tan had also filed an application to challenge the Government’s decision to regard Wee Kim Wee as the first elected president for the purpose of making the 2017 President Election as a reserved election, which was eventually dismissed by the Court of Appeal.