GE2020 SINGAPORE VOTES: PSP

GE2020: PSP starts new chapter after coming close to a win: Tan Cheng Bock

He says he is proud his young opposition team has caused an impact in the general election

Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock (second from left) and fellow candidates (from right) Michael Chua, Francis Yuen and Damien Tay addressing the media after the election results were announced early this morning. Though the party came clo
Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock (second from left) and fellow candidates (from right) Michael Chua, Francis Yuen and Damien Tay addressing the media after the election results were announced early this morning. Though the party came close with its A team in West Coast GRC, none of its candidates was ultimately elected. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chief Tan Cheng Bock said he was heartened by his party's result even though it had failed to win any of the constituencies it contested.

"My young team didn't win a seat, but I must say we have caused an impact in this general election. We may not have won the seats but if you look at the level of support for PSP candidates... I am actually quite proud of this performance," said Dr Tan, 80, after the results were announced.

"I think it's the beginning of a new chapter for PSP and I think the movement that I've created will grow. We are not deterred by this disappointment. I think the team that I have built will go further, in the next election. In the next round, we'll come back."

Though the party came close with its A team in West Coast GRC - gaining 48.31 per cent of the votes and earning the party two Non-Constituency MP seats - none of its candidates was ultimately elected.

As a whole, the party won just over 40 per cent of the votes across the nine constituencies it contested.

"I think on the average we have really done pretty well. And I would like to say that we will continue to work in the areas that we stood. I would just like to tell my candidates here not to be disheartened but to take this little failure as part of life and carry on working very hard in the constituency."

He added: "West Coast, we were very close and I think we gave them a good fight."

West Coast GRC had largely been seen as the party's best bet for an electoral victory heading into the polls, given Dr Tan's links to the constituency.

Dr Tan was a PAP MP in Ayer Rajah SMC for 26 years from 1980 to 2006. In 2006, the year he stepped down as an MP, the single-member constituency was merged into the neighbouring West Coast GRC.

While he was Ayer Rajah MP, Dr Tan used to win with large margins, and during his walkabouts in the constituency over the past week, it was evident he continued to have appeal in the constituency.

Talk of Dr Tan's future role featured prominently during the press conference early this morning, given that he had also spent his last interview on the campaign talking about the need for him to hand over the reins.

He stressed that his aim was merely to get the party going. "I'm only here to set the stage to get the right people to stand on this stage with me and to then help me to build a much stronger Singapore," he said, adding that he believed he has achieved that.

"Let me build it and reinforce it, and make it stronger and the next general election, I'm sure you will see a much younger team."

Dr Tan repeated his pledge that he would not take up an NCMP spot, though he said the party would decide if other candidates would do so.

"I will not take up the NCMP because I've been in Parliament for so many years... I leave the choice to the party and to the exco. And if we agree, we'll send in two people to Parliament and let them have an understanding of how parliamentary processes are and how we debate in the House. So I think, I leave it open."

When asked about what role Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, would continue to play in the party, Dr Tan said: "I think he has a strong belief in PSP, and whether he will be involved in elections, you have to ask him...

"He's not just involved in elections. His contribution to members is immense - he has inputs and he gives ideas."

The party had caused a stir when it unveiled Mr Lee Hsien Yang as a party member in the run-up to Nomination Day.

On the performance of the opposition parties as a whole, Dr Tan said he believed the election results mean the ruling party has been denied a strong mandate.

"I don't think the Prime Minister can be very happy about all this. He wanted a strong mandate but he got a worse mandate than he started out with," he said. "All across the board, it dropped."

The PSP, along with several other parties, had centred their campaign on the need for diverse voices and more checks and balance in Parliament.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2020, with the headline PSP starts new chapter after coming close to a win: Tan Cheng Bock. Subscribe