Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said Singaporeans will need to decide who can better serve them, in response to former People's Action Party MP Tan Cheng Bock's return to politics.
Dr Tan's move to form a political party is "a development that is not totally unexpected", Mr Heng said yesterday on the sidelines of a community event in Tampines.
"Singaporeans will have to decide on who can serve them better, and I will leave Singaporeans to make that judgment," he said.
Mr Heng, the first assistant secretary-general of the ruling PAP, is the first PAP leader to weigh in on news of Dr Tan setting up a political party.
Last Friday, Dr Tan, 78, announced that he had applied on Wednesday to register the Progress Singapore Party, which includes 11 other "like-minded Singaporeans", some of whom are former PAP cadres.
The six-term MP, who retired from politics in 2006, lost narrowly to Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam in the 2011 Presidential Election. He resigned from the PAP that year.
The next general election must be held by April 2021.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said he bumped into Dr Tan Cheng Bock on Saturday during his usual morning walkabout at Chong Pang hawker centre and the nearby coffee shops.
I told Dr Tan to come more often. I tell this to a lot (of) people - good for business in Chong Pang.
LAW AND HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER K. SHANMUGAM, who bumped into Dr Tan Cheng Bock at Chong Pang hawker centre.
"I told Dr Tan to come more often. I tell this to a lot (of) people - good for business in Chong Pang," he said, adding that he also took a photograph with Dr Tan.
Dr Tan also posted on Facebook photographs from his breakfast in Chong Pang. In one of them, he was seen with former National Solidarity Party acting secretary-general Hazel Poa, who contested in the 2011 General Election.
Ms Poa could not be contacted for comment.