Singaporeans have to decide who can serve them better, says Heng Swee Keat on Tan Cheng Bock's new political party

Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam posing for a photo together at Chong Pang hawker centre, on Jan 19, 2019. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/TAN CHENG BOCK
(From left) Adviser to Tampines Grassroots Organisations Cheng Li Hui; Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat; mayor of North East District and assistant Secretary-General of NTUC Desmond Choo; and senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Baey Yam Keng addressing volunteers on Jan 20, 2019. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said Singaporeans will need to decide who can better serve them, in response to former People's Action Party (PAP) 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 on Sunday (Jan 20) 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, 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 last 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 on Sunday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said he bumped into Dr Tan Cheng Bock last Saturday (Jan 19) 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," 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.

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