One of its new candidates that the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) introduced yesterday (23 June) was psychiatrist Dr Ang Yong Guan, who also served with the Singapore Armed Forces for 23 years from 1980 to 2003, retiring after serving 17 years as the Chief Psychiatrist.
Dr Ang isn’t a fresh face in the world of politics, having contested before in the 2011 and 2015 GEs with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and then Singapore First (SingFirst) party respectively.
Before that, in 1995, Dr Ang was awarded the Public Service Medal (PBM) for his contribution as a community leader at Kembangan Constituency helping then-MP Mr George Yeo for more than 15 years.
During the press conference when PSP Secretary-General Dr Tan Cheng Bock introduced some of the party’s new members, Dr Ang was asked why he switched parties over the last couple of elections and why he settled on PSP this time around.
Dr Ang explained, “Nine years ago, I was very unhappy with the way PAP was heading, and especially the high ministerial pay, and I took a plunge into local politics.”
He said that Mr Tan See Jay, the former principal private secretary to former-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, approached him with a 46-page economic paper on how to transform Singapore’s economy, which convinced him to throw his name in the ring. Together, the two former school-mates joined the SDP to contest in the 2011 General Election (GE).
“At the time, the ground was very hot and angry and it was very palpable and that to me was a watershed General Election, 2011… and this momentum must continue,” said Dr Ang, noting that the People’s Action Party (PAP) had only garnered about 60 per cent of the vote then.
“For the first time in Singapore history, one GRC fell to opposition after 22 years,” he stated, referring to the group representation constituency (GRC) that was secured by the Workers’ Party (WP) in 2011.
Dr Ang went on to say that Mr Tan had suggested in 2015 that they form a new party focused on putting Singaporeans first, which is when they formed the Singapore First Party – which was one of the newest parties to contest in the 2015 GE.
The psychiatrist went on to suggest that part of the reason the PAP managed to garner about 70 per cent of the votes in the last GE was because of a groundswell of support and gratefulness of the people following the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
He said, “Now, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, our founding Prime Minister, died in March 2015. September, they declared the General Eection. And there was this groundswell of people very grateful to the founding prime minister.”
Dr Ang added that the people had “transferred gratitude of Lee Kuan Yew to his son, Lee Hsien Loong”. However, he stressed that there were still about 30 per cent of voters who were “solidly behind” the alternative parties.
He reiterated that while the momentum of the alternative parties was dented in the 2015 GE, it must continue now and the PAP must not be allowed to use COVID-19 to dent it again.
On the question of why he decided to ultimately join PSP, Dr Ang expressed it was a “very logical” choice as he can see himself in Dr Tan Cheng Bock. He said, “We helped PAP in the past, we helped grassroots organisation in the past, we saw it moving in the wrong direction, we came in to do something. That’s how I identify myself with PSP.”
He also noted that he left SingFirst to join PSP as he felt they would be able to propel him into Parliament as they are a “very strong” party.