On July 10 last year, the Progress Singapore Party took part in a general election for the first time. A year later, Yahoo News Singapore spoke to PSP Chairman Dr. Tan Cheng Bock in an interview on issues ranging from the PSP NCMPs to the party’s future.
SINGAPORE – Dr Tan Cheng Bock loves the fruit trees that bloomed in the veteran politician’s garden over the years under his loving care.
Just before his interview with Yahoo News Singapore At his one-storey house in the Ghim Moh area earlier this week, the chairman of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) spoke passionately with this reporter about his mango and other trees. The evergreen octogenarian once even posted a TikTok video of himself picking several mangoes from his garden.
Dressed in a cream mandarin collar shirt, Dr Tan proudly patted his chest to show off a newly minted pin with the opposition party’s palm logo. He welcomes his party members to his home to discuss various party and national issues at their weekly meetings.
In a way, the avid gardener sowed the seeds of PSP’s future growth since he decided to move back to be its leader. It now belongs to Secretary General Francis Yuen, Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa, non-constituency members (NCMP), and other key party members to position the PSP for future election battles, with Dr. Tan playing the role of mentor.
Credible performance of PSP NCMPs
Asked about Leong and Poa’s performance since the opening of parliament on August 24 last year, Dr Tan, 81, said the NCMP had credibly played in their debates with ministers and had succeeded in articulate PSP positions on various issues.
He gave his assessment of how the NCMPs, which are also part of the PSP central executive committee (CEC), were conducted during parliamentary sessions.
“So Mun Wai is pretty cautious, he has all these numbers, and it’s up to the government to challenge him. And I find that they (the ministers) did not know how to challenge him as well.
“And then Hazel is very, very calm, in her own way, not confrontational, but she will tell you something that I think the government will have to take note of.” Watch his educational speeches.
Dr Tan, a retired general practitioner, recalled the advice he gave to Leong and Poa after they entered parliament. He told them that being subject to scrutiny in Parliament is normal as they are a minority among MPs and that they should always remain calm and collected when debating issues.
“You will have a lot of parliamentary injuries, you will be affected. But don’t worry, it’s an integral part of the process of growing any CNMP in Parliament. But it is important that they maintain their stature and composure, because they will be the example, where many people watch (them) and they hope they will be useful as MPs in the future. So it’s a difficult journey.
In last year’s general election (GE), the PSP won 40.86% of the vote in nine constituencies that he contested. Due to his best performance at West Coast GRC – where Dr Tan, Poa and Leong were lined up – with the PSP score 48.32 percent against 51.68 percent of the ruling Popular Action Party (PAP), the PSP was offered NCMP positions. After Dr Tan refused to fill the position, the PSP named Leong and Poa at be NCMPs.
To date, Leong and Poa have debated in parliament a range of issues ranging from education, migrant workers, economics to sustainability.
Arguably, the only problem that put the PSP in the spotlight more recently than any other, the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECSC) and its supposed impact on Singapore’s workforce.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who told Leong what was said about the ECSC was wrong, in May challenged the NCMP to discuss the ECSC. Without naming anyone, Shanmugam said some “parties” were engaged in “dangerous” actions on the issue. Leong accepted the challenge and said the ECSC and other free trade agreements have affected Singaporeans’ jobs and livelihoods.
The issue of the ECSC has given rise to separate ministerial statements by Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung and minister of manpower minister Tan See Long Tuesday July 6 to defend the government’s position on the ECSC. Ong accused the PSP of using the CECA aspolitical scapegoatTo discredit the PAP.
When asked if he had played a role in encouraging Leong to accept the challenge, Dr Tan said, “I think he was also influenced to a large extent by my opening remarks when I wanted to. forming the party (a few years ago) and said the areas we really should be looking at are this (CECA) review, on our PMET job.
“I’m happy for him, I’m glad he took up the challenge. If he hadn’t taken up the challenge, I would have scolded him, ”Dr Tan said with a chuckle.
But Dr Tan admitted it was a tall order for Leong to face the ministers. “I think Shanmugam is a tyrant… That’s the way he asked her that question, he’s really not a gentleman for a minister,” Dr Tan said.
It is a good sign that ministers are challenging the PSP and that the PAP is worried about the opposition party, Dr Tan said. “They know the PSP isn’t just a fun fair now.”
Dr Tan said the NCMP had strong support from other party members to prepare for parliamentary debates. “Do you think Mun Wai, when he goes to Parliament, he is not supported by people? Of course I have a team to support him. I have a special parliamentary team made up of very good people, people smart, to give him the ammo… for both of them. “
While the PSP may not have “great debaters,” the important thing was that it strives to represent Singaporeans’ concerns, according to Dr Tan. “That’s what people told us, so that’s what we’re telling you.”
Pandemic and the future of PSP
Since its inception in 2019, the PSP has gone through a COVID-19 GE pandemic and continues to be hampered on the ground. awareness efforts. The party has been more active than before on social media and other online platforms to reach people.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic is a topic of great interest to Dr. Tan.
He pointed out that even if Singapore succeeded in securing collective immunity, the rest of the world might not have reached the same level as the city-state. As such, he stressed the need for Singapore to work with ASEAN countries to fight COVID-19.
Regarding the availability of the Sinovac vaccine in Singapore, Dr Tan said that those who take the vaccine made in China should have the same privileges as those who receive the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Unlike the latter two, the Sinovac vaccine is not covered by the national vaccination campaign but is available from a number of medical service providers. People who take the Sinovac vaccine are not covered by the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Program.
Dr Tan also spoke of a group of doctors who had called for a stop to the vaccination of young people. Reactions to the medical appeal have been published in several media reports. Parts of those reports appeared to be “too dismissive” of doctors, Dr Tan said in a Facebook post on June 30.
Reiterating the need to disseminate diverse opinions on vaccinations to the public, Dr Tan said in this interview that the feelings of those who have taken different positions should be taken into account and that the focus should not be solely on on the numbers.
“You can’t blame these people, doctors or whoever … but if it’s asking questions and they’re berated that way. How are we going to create this trust? You want me to support you, you have to convince me.
As the PSP continues to intensify its efforts in the community and parliament, Dr Tan is focusing on cultivating the party’s network with associations and outside professionals. It is part of PSP’s long-term goals to move it away from a party that has been closely associated with him, he said.
“The PSP was formed by Tan Cheng Bock but it is the people’s party, not my party… and Singaporeans must realize that there is hope in joining this party because we are giving a different perspective of how things should be handled and how it should be managed, ”he said.
Ultimately, Dr Tan added that he hopes his efforts and those of the PSP will bear fruit in future elections.
“It’s very important, we have to get the message across that there is an alternative to PAP. The PAP has no prerogative to lead, to rule this country forever. “
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