SINGAPORE - A key member of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has drawn the ire of some opposition politicians after he described the leaders of a proposed four-party alliance as captains of "sinking boats" who are just "clasping one another's hands to save themselves from drowning".
Mr Alex Tan, who is personal assistant to PSP leader Tan Cheng Bock and sits on the party's central executive committee (CEC), had spoken to The Online Citizen, which published his remarks on its website on Monday (Jan 13).
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, People's Power Party (PPP) secretary-general Goh Meng Seng said he was "greatly disappointed" that Mr Alex Tan had "shown such animosity" towards the planned alliance, which had invited Dr Tan Cheng Bock to be its leader.
The PPP is part of the proposed coalition, along with the Singaporeans First party (SingFirst), Democratic Progressive Party and Reform Party.
On Tuesday, Mr Alex Tan clarified that he made the remarks in his personal capacity, and said they did not represent his party's stance towards the proposed alliance and its leaders.
He told The Straits Times: "It was made when I posted my reaction in my various chat groups, when chat members posted the ST story on the four-party coalition."
He said he repeated those remarks to The Online Citizen editor Terry Xu when asked for his opinion on the planned alliance.
"It's my personal view only. I said so because I love analogies and symbolism and poetry," said Mr Alex Tan.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, SingFirst chief Tan Jee Say urged Dr Tan to issue a public statement to clarify the PSP's stance and "set the record straight", in view of Mr Alex Tan's close ties to the party and Dr Tan himself.
Mr Goh told ST that even if Mr Alex Tan had commented in his personal capacity, "as a CEC member and personal assistant to Dr Tan Cheng Bock, his words will carry tremendous weight and influence PSP's overall mindset and direction".
He said the comments were not "helpful nor necessary", and questioned the PSP's "real agenda" in the political arena.
In his Facebook post, Mr Goh wrote: "It seems that PSP is plotting secretly to go on full scale 3 corner fights with all those 'fringe sinking boat' parties!"
Asked if the PSP will work with other opposition parties to avoid three-cornered fights in the general election, Mr Alex Tan said: "We simply don't want to talk about it."
The PSP - launched in August last year - is the youngest political party in Singapore.