A new political party has been just registered by two former member of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) for the upcoming General Election (GE) which has to be held by April 2021.
The new party, “Red Dot United” (RDU) is headed by Ravi Philemon, 52, who will be Secretary-General and Michelle Lee, 43, who will be Chairman if the application for the party — submitted on 26 May — is approved by the Registry of Societies (ROS). Both were former members of PSP before they resigned separately months prior.
According to Mr Philemon, there are 12 party members named in the application to ROS. The party members aged between 25 to 55 years old are said to be professionals in different fields from medical to legally trained individuals. Half of the 12 were former members of political parties, inclusive of another two former members from PSP.
Ms Lee clarified that the other two former PSP members joined RDU after reaching out to them on their future plans.
Mr Philemon also shared that Ms Lee and him had reached out to Dr Tan Cheng Bock and other members of the PSP CEC to inform them of our plans and to ask if PSP needed their help in any way.
“We are cheered that we received a warm response and as they are doing well and do not need our assistance, we have gone ahead to register Red Dot United.” said Mr Philemon.
When enquired by TOC on its response to the forming of the new party by its former party members, PSP declined to give a detailed response on the matter but wished RDU all the best.
While Mr Philemon said that the party had also spoken to some other party leaders in the opposition space but did not specify which parties it spoke to.
“Looking at the big picture, we want to see an alliance of like-minded political parties, academics, businesses and citizens working together for the greater good of Singapore.” said Mr Philemon
While Ms Lee said that the party is not clear on where it will be contesting as the bigger parties are still under discussion as to who will be exactly going where. Mr Philemon confirms that the party will be contesting in the upcoming GE.
Ms Lee said that the goal of party is not about winning election but the preparation of the ground and understanding of politics in Singapore. She also pointed out that while some may complain that there is too many political parties in Singapore, other democratic institutions around the world such as Finland with a similar sized population, has nine parties elected in its parliament and nine other parties outside.
There are currently 12 active registered political parties in Singapore.
Reasons for leaving PSP and forming a new party
As for her prior resignation from PSP due to family reasons, Ms Lee explains that it was intensive for her at that time as the party grew very quickly and she was given various roles to run the ground work. PSP was so large, and just to organise and decide on things took a lot of time as well, said Ms Lee.
Ms Lee left PSP in March this year as its vice-Chairman, citing the reason of her wish to “spend more time with her family”.
Ms Lee explains that for the new party, it is a smaller group for her and she had time to clear up her mind after she stepped out of PSP a few months back.
On the larger question of why the two left PSP, Mr Philemon said, “We want openness, we like transparency, we like accountability” during the zoom interview.
“As to why we left PSP, it is possible that we asked too many questions. Our intention as would be clear to those who know us, and worked with us, was always to strengthen. We believe one of the roles of parliamentarians is to ask hard question and to seek out answers and solutions”.
Ms Lee shared that the goal for RDU, is about Singaporeans. “It is about making politics fun and accessible for singpoaerans who wouldn’t even be interested in politics.”
As for Mr Philemon who had been with various political parties, pointed out that conventional politics in Singapore are entered on different personalities and said to media, “Politics we envision, (are) centered on policies, to take Singapore forward. It will be a shift of the kind of politics which Singapore has seen in the past years, past decade.”
As stated in the documents submitted to ROS, states “The Party will be a national movement dedicated to serving Singapore and advancing the well-being of all Singaporeans; by promoting the ideals of Fairness, Accountability, Integrity, Transparency and Happiness, Hope and Heart (Empathy and Compassion)”
In the event that the application is not approved within a couple of weeks, the party will be writing in to ROS to request that its application be expedited. The two also voiced concern for having an election before the COVID-19 pandemic is more stable due to the risk for those aged 50 years old and above, especially since the ruling party already has a strong mandate from the previous GE.