Progress Singapore Party will take up issues if voted into Parliament, says Tan Cheng Bock

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock arriving for the party's official launch event at Swissotel Merchant Court yesterday, where he said he re-entered politics "for country, for people".
Progress Singapore Party (PSP) secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock arriving for the party's official launch event at Swissotel Merchant Court yesterday, where he said he re-entered politics "for country, for people".ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Promises include working to lower voting age to 18, ensuring job security

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chief Tan Cheng Bock promised at its official launch yesterday to work to lower the voting age to 18 and seek other changes if his party is voted into Parliament.

He said Singaporeans at 18 were, among other things, old enough to drive, and that males were undergoing National Service.

"Since they have the duty to defend our country, 18-year-olds should also have a right to elect their leaders. They are mature enough to take on responsibility of their citizenry, to understand policies and vote for the Government that they want," he said, without citing changes in Malaysia last month to lower the voting age there to 18.

It was among a number of pledges made when he called on Singaporeans to vote the PSP into Parliament and to deprive the People's Action Party (PAP) of its two-thirds majority.

The PSP will also aim to review the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between Singapore and India, particularly on access for Indian professionals into Singapore; raise Singapore's low fertility rate; move towards a preventive primary healthcare model; ensure job security; and encourage companies to work together when venturing abroad.

But Dr Tan and six other central executive committee members who spoke did not elaborate on how they would do so, and did not want to be drawn into discussing PSP policies.

Pressed to elaborate on several issues during a question-and-answer session, he said details will be announced in the election manifesto.

"People ask 'Why don't you tell me this or that'. (If I do) I'm a poor strategist. I must keep my cards close to my chest," Dr Tan added.

Asked where he would contest in the next election, due by April 2021, he would say only that as a strategist, he plans his battles carefully.

GET US INTO PARLIAMENT

But we must have the data (on issues such as healthcare costs, income inequality and cost of living), and data means you have to get us into Parliament.

PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY CHIEF TAN CHENG BOCK, on what he needs to take up issues of concern to the public.

He said that while many assume he will return to West Coast - where he was the PAP's MP in the former Ayer Rajah single-seat constituency for 26 years - that would not necessarily be the case.

Speaking at separate sessions to about 1,000 people in all, including supporters and members of the public who applied for free launch tickets, he promised to take up issues such as healthcare costs, income inequality and cost of living.

"But we must have the data, and data means you have to get us into Parliament," he said to applause.

 
 
 
 

Others introduced at the formal launch included PSP chairman Wang Swee Chuang, 68; assistant secretary-general Lee Yung Hwee, 40; treasurer S. Nallakaruppan, 55; assistant treasurer and former National Solidarity Party member Hazel Poa, 48; and committee members Abdul Rahman, 67, and Michelle Lee, 42, who was from the Singapore Democratic Party.

Booths were set up in the ballroom of the Swissotel Merchant Court for people to sign up as members, donate money, collect souvenirs such as tissue packets and bottled water printed with the PSP's palm tree logo, and to print photos taken at the event.

LED screens in the hall displayed photos of the event that participants posted, adding to the launch's carnival-like atmosphere.

Financial analyst Jason Tan, 29, who attended the launch, said "Singapore needed more political competition in and outside of Parliament for a proper contest of ideas".

Housewife Chan Lay See, 50, was "not happy with the PAP" and wanted to see how another opposition party could help with reducing high living costs, for instance.

Both have not joined the party, which had about 200 members and volunteers as of last week.

Dr Tan, who said last week that the PAP has lost its way, choked up yesterday when he said he re-entered politics "for country, for people". Recounting the time when Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew asked him to join the PAP, Dr Tan said it was now his turn to ask Singaporeans to join him.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 04, 2019, with the headline 'PSP will take up issues if voted into Parliament, says Tan Cheng Bock'. Print Edition | Subscribe