During the official launch of the Progressive Singapore Party (PSP) last Saturday (3 Aug) at Swissotel Merchant Court Hotel, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, founding Secretary-General of PSP, calls for Singaporeans – young and old – to come forward and join him “in making a difference to Singapore”.
Dr Tan, a former People’s Action Party (PAP) member of parliament for 26 years, greeted the supporters of the party in the packed ballroom that afternoon before sharing his thoughts on the current state of affairs in Singapore, and what his party aspires to address in the future, such as rising cost of living, healthcare delivery system, fertility rate, and employment.
Speaking as a medical doctor who had suggested ways during his time as a MP, to improve the healthcare system in Singapore, Dr Tan said, “No one should have to sell their house to pay for medical fees.”
Dr Tan commented that Government Linked Companies should not be competing with local companies in Singapore but to expand overseas.
He also said that the party will ask the government to come up with a balance sheet to account for how Singapore has benefit from the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which it signed with India to allow citizens from India and Singapore to travel to each country to seek employment.
“How many local jobs have gone to Indian professionals and how many Singaporeans have gone to India?” asked Dr Tan.
Addressing the point by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat who said that Singapore should not have more “adversarial politics”, Dr Tan then pointed to the comment made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2008 where he said that if more opposition entered parliament, he would have to spend all his time, thinking how to fix the opposition.
Commenting on PM Lee’s statement, Dr Tan said, “Now that is adversarial politics.”
He further touched on DPM Heng’s claim that the current ruling party is being transparent by labelling Heng’s understanding of transparency as being flawed. Using the Oxley Road Saga which Heng used as an example, Dr Tan noted that PM Lee’s brother, Lee Hsien Yang was not in Parliament to defend the allegations against him and the matter was debated in a Parliament with majority PAP MPs. He questioned if the Parliament was the right place for the matter to be brought up.
Additionally, Dr Tan vouched to work on lowering the voting age to 18 years old should the PSP be voted into Parliament.
“At 18, Singaporeans are old enough to drive; girls enter university, and boys enter into national service. Since they have the duty to defend our country, 18-year-olds should also have a right to elect their leaders. They are matured enough to take on responsibility of their citizenry, to understand policies and vote for the government that they want,” he stated.
Besides that, citing from a Reuters Institute Report (for the study of Journalism’s 2018 Digital News, Pg 13) which notes that as many as 63% of Singaporeans fear expressing their political opinions openly and even on the Internet, Dr Tan highlighted that “fear is very much present” as Singapore is ranked second from the bottom only to Turkey.
“How has this affected our Singaporean lifestyle? When we study the extent and depth of this Fear Factor, it affects so many of us. We do not even realise how much of our behaviour it alters. People fear for their jobs, their promotions, their grants, their rental premises, and getting sued,” he added.
“But we should not behave like ostriches, burying our heads in the sand and pretending nothing is wrong. If we act like ostriches, ask yourself – is that really loyalty or patriotism? Speaking up is not ingratitude or betrayal,” he pointed out, before asserting that he joined Lee Kuan Yew’s party because of the integrity upheld by Mr Lee, who did not want a yes-man.
He went on to say that he does not hesitate to speak up whenever he disagrees, hinting that “Singapore is not best served by our silence”.
At a couple of occasions during his speech, Dr Tan paused to hold back his tears as emotions overwhelmed him. The doctor who is 79 of age, came back into politics and formed PSP with his President Election campaign team as he said he couldn’t sit back and not do anything about the deteriorating condition of Singapore.
Before concluding his speech, he encouraged Singaporeans to step up and join him to bring the country forward.
“Come, take courage and let’s work together to take on the many challenges ahead. For the progress of Singapore! For country and for people!”
Watch the video of his full speech here: