SINGAPORE - The leader of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Dr Tan Cheng Bock, visited Ghim Moh and Tiong Bahru markets as part of its first walkabout on Sunday (Sept 29) morning.
About 300 members of Singapore's newest political party and volunteers also concurrently fanned out across the island, visiting all 29 constituencies.
Dressed in red polo T-shirts with a palm tree logo, they reached out to the Sunday breakfast crowd with balloons and pamphlets, shaking hands and taking photos with residents.
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah had a brief chat with Dr Tan when they ran into each other at Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
"It's nice to see people come by occasionally, so I took the chance to say hi to Cheng Bock," she told the media.
When asked if she was concerned about the PSP's presence in her ward, Ms Indranee said that serving the residents is her priority, and that when the time comes, they will decide for themselves who they want to represent them in Parliament.
Dr Tan, a former long-serving MP of the ruling People's Action Party, told the media he was happy that his encounter with Ms Indranee "was not confrontational", and hoped that there could be less of the "if you're not with me, you're against me" mentality in local politics.
From Sunday's walkabout, the PSP secretary-general observed that people were still not fully aware of the PSP yet because it is new.
For example, when they received the pamphlets, if they did not turn to the side with his face on it, they would not have known what it was about at all.
"We had this walkabout to get them to get used to the logo, and get to know the party being led by Dr Tan," explained Central Executive Committee member Michelle Lee.
Assistant secretary-general Anthony Lee added that they still have not touched base with a large segment of Singaporeans because not everyone follows their social media posts and livestream sessions.
Mr Ooi Choo Eong, 60, who eats at Tiong Bahru Food Centre twice a month, said it was "encouraging" that the new party visited the venue.
The project coordinator in the petrochemical industry, said he had heard about Dr Tan and the PSP in the media. "It's good to show signs of presence, but they will have to walk more."
Mr Kelly Ng, 48, who runs 63 Laksa stall at Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre, said he would wait for the campaigning to begin and hear what policies the party presents before making a decision about them.
It was also revealed on Sunday that the PSP's policy team consists of more than 30 members and is headed by assistant treasurer Hazel Poa.
She said that the party's policies and manifesto will not address all of the issues that were raised at the party launch in August, which included job creation, the voting age and ministerial salaries, among others.
"Obviously, we are going to look at different areas comprehensively, because the election is going to be rather soon," said Ms Poa. "We will need to decide subsequently, which are the areas we want to make our main call, but that is something that we can only decide closer to election time."
When asked if any progress had been made since the agreement by seven parties in July last year for him to lead a coalition, Dr Tan said that he had accepted it back then, as he thought "getting together is a good thing".
"I didn't say I will accept the form (of collaboration). I was not saying that whatever they proposed is the right one," said Dr Tan.
However, he said that he still will not rule out a coalition, but the opposition parties need to first maintain a relationship of understanding, and party leaders needed to convince their own members to get on board with any decision made.