Dr Tan Cheng Bock – the founding chief of Singapore’s newest opposition political party Progress Singapore Party (PSP) – and his team met and greeted families at the party’s Geylang Serai market walkabout last Sun (1 Dec).
Dr Tan, in a Facebook post on Thu (5 Dec), expressed his gratitude to everyone he and his team had met, and said that “it was very nice to chat together and meet so many people” on such a busy morning.
Geylang Serai, one of Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements, falls under the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
In Oct, PSP also paid a visit to Tekka Centre for Deepavali festive greetings. Tekka Centre falls under Jalan Besar GRC.
PSP visiting all 29 constituencies
Previously on 29 Sep, Dr Tan and his PSP team paid a visit to residents of all 29 constituencies across the island.
Calling the “29 on 29 Walkabout” a “success”, PSP on its official Facebook page the same day said that nearly 300 party members and supporters walked the ground, meeting Singaporeans “from all walks of life” and listening to residents’ concerns.
The party also thanked residents of all 29 constituencies for the “enthusiastic” welcome.
Dr Tan kickstarted his walkabout with a visit to the Ghim Moh Market & Food Centre at 8.30 a.m., where several members distributed pamphlets equipped with QR codes to stallholders and patrons.
The QR codes linked users to a survey by the party, which aims to gauge the public’s concerns on social issues. PSP in its Facebook post on Sun also provided a link to the survey.
Following the first islandwide walkabout, the party conducted a second round on 9 Nov, with party members making their way from their homes to a central gathering point and greeting commuters along the way.
Despite carrying out various walkabouts, PSP has not confirmed which constituencies it will be contesting for the upcoming General Election, which is expected to take place next year.
PSP sends “friendly note” to other opposition parties on walkabout plans, will not rule out the possibility of a coalition
Prior to its official walkabout in Sep, PSP had informed other opposition parties regarding its plans via “a friendly courtesy note”, said party assistant secretary-general Anthony Lee.
Mr Lee told reporters after the walkabout that the other opposition parties had “wished them well” in response to the note.
Touching on the prospect of working jointly with other opposition parties in Singapore, Mr Lee said that the possibility of doing so “allows us to exercise more options, whichever will benefit people the most”.
“I think we will have that common understanding in time to come,” he added.
Speaking to reporters at his home after the walkabout, Dr Tan stressed that it is important to preserve rapport between PSP and the other opposition parties – and even the ruling party – in Singapore in spite of differences among parties.
“I think we should forget about this ‘If you’re not with me, you’re against me’ [stance] … No, we must change that. We should throw this statement out.
“[Just because] you’re not with me, [it] doesn’t mean that I’m against you. It’s just that we have a different opinion, we have a different way of doing things,” added the former Member of Parliament (MP) of almost three decades for Ayer Rajah SMC from 1980 to 2006.
He also referenced his earlier encounter with Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah, who is a member of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), during the walkabout at the Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
Noting in a Facebook post that he “shook hands and exchanged pleasantries” with Ms Rajah, Dr Tan also described her supporters as being “very friendly”, and that he knew most of them “because in the past we were all together”.
“I’m quite happy with the relationship, it’s not confrontational,” he said.
Younger members are given generous leeway to “manage the ground” in PSP
Highlighting that the party does not only comprise scholars, but also “captains of industry” and the “ordinary man in the streets”, Dr Tan said that PSP is “not so outdated in the way we do things”, as seen in the islandwide walkabout on Sun.
He added that if PSP were to adopt his “old style” as an MP under PAP, they would only be able to cover four places in four weeks as they would only visit one hawker centre at a time.
Dr Tan thus, contrary to a top-down approach, has given generous leeway for younger members of PSP to “manage the ground” to their own accord.
Noting that he would not usually “give to these new people” the capacity to be in charge of such things “because we don’t how they’re going to handle it”, he said that he had nonetheless welcomed the fresh “campaigning style” introduced by said younger members.
“I watch how they distribute flyers and conduct themselves. So far I think they are okay,” said Dr Tan.
PSP was set up by Dr Tan, who is also a former presidential candidate, alongside several other ex-PAP cadres. The new opposition party received formal approval from the Registry of Societies on 28 Mar.
During PSP’s official launch at the Swissotel Merchant Court Hotel earlier this month, Dr Tan shared 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.
Dr Tan also called upon Singaporeans – young and old – to come forward and join him “in making a difference to Singapore”.