On 18 January 2019, former presidential hopeful Tan Cheng Bock announced on his Facebook page his intention to return to politics after a 13-year hiatus. He also announced the formation and registration of a new political party called the “Progress Singapore Party” with the Registry of Societies. His party currently consists of 11 other “like-minded Singaporeans”, many of which include ex-PAP cadres. Fortunately, his new party was not ‘bocked’ (shoutout to the Presidential Election 2017 memes) with Dr. Tan receiving an in-principle approval from the Registry of Societies. To receive formal approval, the party would need to accept some minor amendments made by the registry to its constitution.
What’s Progressive about the Progress Singapore Party?
Dr Tan cited his interactions and relationships with common Singaporeans as his motivation for returning to politics and organizing a new political opposition party to represent them in parliament. Through Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Dr Tan intends to “build a compassionate and truly democratic Singapore where good values and people matter” while ensuring that “freedom of choice and speech without fear [is] defended”. Interestingly, unlike certain opposition parties who mainly intend to serve as a ‘check’ against the ruling People’s Action Party, Dr Tan mentioned that he intends his party to be ready to take over the government when its members mature. PSP members include businessman Mr Anthony Lee, 39, appointed as assistant secretary general, former PAP cadre Wang Swee Chuan, 68, appointed as chairman, and Mr G. K. Singam, 81, also another former PAP cadre who was appointed as vice-chairman.
While Dr Tan has ambitious goals, an observer from the Institute of Policy Studies, Gillian Koh, mentioned that the success of the PSP depends on how much political clout and charisma Dr Tan’s running mates have especially given Dr Tan’s old age. Furthermore, former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin noted that Dr Tan’s history as a former PAP member would prove to be a challenge for him to garner support from PAP supporters and those who support other opposition parties.