Francis Yuen takes over from Tan Cheng Bock as PSP sec-gen

Party founder Tan now chairman, will mentor Yuen, who will take on executive functions

The distinctions between Dr Tan Cheng Bock (left, above) and Mr Francis Yuen's posts should not matter so much as the party is not in power, said a PSP spokesman.
The distinctions between Dr Tan Cheng Bock (left, above) and Mr Francis Yuen's posts should not matter so much as the party is not in power, said a PSP spokesman.

Former Republic of Singapore Air Force lieutenant-colonel Francis Yuen has been appointed secretary-general of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), taking over from party founder Tan Cheng Bock.

Dr Tan, 80, has become party chairman. This was announced by the PSP yesterday after its central executive committee (CEC) met on Wednesday.

Mr Yuen, 71, was assistant secretary-general of the PSP, and had run as a candidate in Chua Chu Kang GRC during the general election last year.

PSP spokesman Kumaran Pillai said Dr Tan will remain as party leader of the PSP for now and mentor Mr Yuen, who will be taking care of executive functions including strengthening the PSP's core team and carrying out grassroots work.

The distinctions between their posts should not matter so much, he added. "We are not a party in power; it doesn't matter who is the secretary-general at the moment - it is just a decoration at this stage."

In a Facebook post, PSP Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai said Mr Yuen was the committee's unanimous choice to "lead PSP to the next level".

"Francis will lead and galvanise the party while (Dr Tan) concentrates on strengthening external support for PSP," he wrote.

Asked about this, Mr Pillai said that Dr Tan wants to continue to reach out to other political parties, as well as civil society groups, clans and other associations.

The change comes amid reports of a rift in the party.

An online news site, the RedWire Times, said last month some party cadres demanded that Dr Tan step down as secretary-general and allow for "more talented rising stars" to take over.

Commenting on the RedWire Times report, Mr Pillai said the new CEC line-up is in no way a reflection of any disagreement over the leadership of the party.

Rather, Mr Yuen assuming the secretary-general role is part of a planned transition, he added.

"When Dr Tan started the party, he said he will mentor someone younger, and he hasn't deviated from his original mission. People shouldn't be reading too much into it."

Meanwhile, two new faces in the 14-member CEC have become office holders. Chartered accountant Kayla Low is the new treasurer, while businessman Phang Yew Huat will be assistant treasurer. Former PSP chairman Wang Swee Chuang is vice-chairman.

Two more people were also co-opted into the new CEC on Wednesday, following a CEC election at the PSP party conference on Sunday: Mr Pillai, who runs a consultancy to develop start-ups, and IT project manager Taufik Supan. They had contested Kebun Baru and Nee Soon GRC respectively in last year's election.

Other CEC members who were re-elected are Ms Peggie Chua, as well as Non-Constituency MPs Hazel Poa and Mr Leong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2021, with the headline 'Francis Yuen takes over from Tan Cheng Bock as PSP sec-gen'. Subscribe