The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) will continue to serve residents across Singapore despite not winning any constituencies in last Friday's general election, said party chief Tan Cheng Bock yesterday.
The party got 48.31 per cent of the votes against the People's Action Party (PAP) team in West Coast GRC, and the narrowest percentage margin obtained by a losing opposition team earned the PSP two Non-Constituency MP seats in the next Parliament.
"Serving people is never a problem for me, because I've already served all my patients. Even as a doctor, I also wasn't purely a doctor," said Dr Tan.
The retired general practitioner and veteran PAP backbencher, who formed the PSP last year, said the better-educated have a social responsibility to give back to society.
"We just continue to serve. I will of course tell my other PSP members to have this kind of philosophy."
Dr Tan was speaking to reporters during a visit to five markets in the group representation constituency to thank residents for their support, together with his teammates Leong Mun Wai, Hazel Poa, Nadarajah Loganathan and Jeffrey Khoo.
Party members said plans include holding alternative meet-the-people sessions led by their 24 candidates in the nine constituencies they contested in the election.
Asked who will fill the two NCMP seats, Dr Tan said the party's central executive committee will be holding a meeting today to make a decision.
Dr Tan and his second-in-command, Mr Leong, had previously said they would not accept an NCMP seat if offered. When asked yesterday if he might reconsider his decision, Mr Leong said that "it depends on the party" and that "there is a process" the party has to go through to nominate the two individuals.
Dr Tan said the decision ultimately lies with the party leadership, adding: "If the party says go, they will have to go. Party interests come first, don't forget."
He also said that this post-election period is "a good chance for me now not only to renew my party, but to consolidate our position", and that a post-mortem of the party's election campaign will be conducted.
"After the post-mortem and the consolidation of the party, I think we will be a very different party," he said.
Dr Tan added that West Coast is not the same place as it was when he was MP. From 1980 to 2006, Dr Tan was MP for Ayer Rajah, which is currently part of West Coast GRC.
"West Coast is so big, it is five times the size of Ayer Rajah, so we can expect new people who also won't know me," he said.
"Also, our symbol is so new to many people. They always remember the lightning, they don't remember so much of our palm," he added, referring to the PAP and PSP logos.
For its election campaign, the PSP ran a broad national campaign with Dr Tan as its focal point, instead of concentrating its efforts heavily on West Coast GRC.
Mr Nadarajah said having another one or two days of campaigning would not have made a difference. "We have to explore other ways to win voters," he said.
Political observer Felix Tan, associate lecturer at SIM Global Education, said the large swing in West Coast to the PSP was down to the "Tan Cheng Bock effect", and not so much missteps on the part of the PAP.
However, the PSP chief's personality, while successful in drawing attention and support for his party, might have ended up overshadowing his teammates, leaving voters unconvinced of their calibre, the academic added.