SINGAPORE — The founder and chairman of the opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Dr Tan Cheng Bock, said at a press conference on Saturday (May 27) that he is ready to run in the next general election.
"I always say, as long as I am relevant, I'll be there. I never run away from a fight, and 2025 is a very challenging (fight). I am so far still very, very prepared for 2025," said the 83-year-old, referring to the next general election (GE) due to be held by November 2025.
Dr Tan has rarely appeared in public since he stepped down as PSP chief in 2021. In 2020, he contested in West Coast GRC and lost to the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) team there with 48.32 per cent of the vote.
Saturday's press conference, which set out PSP's directions for the next GE, came after the PSP voted in its new central executive committee (CEC) in March.
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai, 64, was subsequently named the party's new secretary-general, taking over from Mr Francis Yuen.
Mr Leong, who co-chaired the press conference on Saturday together with Dr Tan and fellow NCMP and PSP vice-chairman Hazel Poa, said the party will "proactively facilitate" the forming of an alliance among the opposition parties, which will help align their election messaging, although no concrete plans have been made.
"As our democracy matures, there'll be more and more room for diversity of views and opinions. As a result, there'll be a lot more room for us and (for) more parties," he said, adding that the PSP will be keen to facilitate closer co-operation among opposition parties.
When asked if the alliance it envisages will include the Workers' Party (WP), Dr Tan said: "We also must remember that the WP is so much older than us, more than 60 years. We (the PSP) only have four years.
"I think we have to respect the WP."
During the 2020 General Election, PSP contested in nine constituencies for 24 seats, but failed to win any.
These included four group representation constituencies — West Coast, Nee Soon, Tanjong Pagar and Chua Chu Kang — and five single-member constituencies — Marymount, Hong Kah North, Yio Chu Kang, Kebun Baru and Pioneer.
Mr Leong would not confirm how many seats, or in which constituencies, PSP plans to run in the next GE.
But it will "most probably" contest in the same constituencies, and could also field a similar number of candidates, he said.
He added that much depends on when the election is called, how the boundaries are drawn up, and how many volunteers the party can recruit to support its candidates.
Outlining the PSP's directions for the next GE, Ms Poa said the party will campaign on bread-and-butter issues such as jobs for Singaporeans and housing affordability, as well as "progress with compassion".
This includes more "progressive" issues such as freedom of information and diversity, and also social safety nets, she added.
Calling for more opposition voices in Parliament, Mr Leong said that the PAP, by having the supermajority or two-thirds of the seats in the House, finds it easy to "neutralise or even decimate" the opposition.
"But if Singaporeans are willing to accept a slightly less than two-thirds majority PAP government, which is still a strong government by any standard in any democracy, then... I think the 15th Parliament will be very, very interesting," he said.
The PSP's goal is to become a political party that Singaporeans want to vote for — not one which they choose out of a process of elimination if they do not like the PAP or the WP, Dr Tan said.
"We are working towards being the party of the first choice by Singaporeans... a party worthy of support. That is the big challenge for us."