Not stepping aside but 'changing gear', says PSP founder Tan Cheng Bock

Dr Tan Cheng Bock said he will now focus on reaching out to more Singaporeans.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock said he will now focus on reaching out to more Singaporeans. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In his new role as chairman of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Dr Tan Cheng Bock will not be idle.

The party's founder said on Saturday (April 3) that he will now focus on reaching out to more Singaporeans, including businesses and clan associations, mobilising and strengthening the party's grassroots outreach efforts, and scouting for new talent.

Meanwhile, his successor as secretary-general, former Republic of Singapore Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Francis Yuen, 71, will work to consolidate the party's achievements over the past two years.

"There was a time when my direct input was crucial because the party was (in its) infancy, learning to walk," Dr Tan said at a press conference on Saturday morning, following the election of the PSP's new central executive committee (CEC) on Wednesday.

"Now the party has grown and matured, and the new team must have the opportunity to use their strengths and skills to move forward."

He added that he was not stepping aside, but "changing gear". "I will not lead the party from the front any more... The time is ripe for me to play a different role."

Mr Yuen, who was assistant secretary-general and had run as a candidate in Chua Chu Kang GRC during last year's general election, said his aim is to make PSP a "party of choice" for Singaporeans.

"We don't want, in future elections, to be elected because we are by default the party to vote for because (voters) are angry with a particular party," he said.

Instead, he hopes voters will see the PSP as representative of their interests and willing to fight for them.


Mr Francis Yuen will work to consolidate the party's achievements over the past two years. PHOTO: PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY

The party will adopt a three-prong approach to its work in the coming years, Mr Yuen added. This means it will continue to walk the ground while building up a strong team in its headquarters to coordinate the party's work. At the same time, Non-Constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa will focus on articulating the party's stance in Parliament.

"We want differentiation; we don't want more of the same."

The party's new CEC was announced on Thursday, a change which came amid reports of a rift in the party. An online news site, the RedWire Times, said in March that some party cadres had demanded that Dr Tan step down as secretary-general, and allow for "more talented rising stars" to take over.

Asked to comment on these reports, Dr Tan replied that he was not concerned by the talk.

Some party members had their own personal agendas, he said. "If you're not a team player, I don't take you."

Mr Yuen stressed that Dr Tan was not coerced into stepping down as secretary-general, adding that doing so had been a part of his predecessor's plan all along.

"We're done with all the teething problems we had over the recent months, all the rumours and all the unhealthy bickering. Every organisation would have that - it's nothing new," Mr Yuen added.

The important thing is how such situations are handled, and how the party can move on with "confidence, compassion and credibility", he said.