SINGAPORE: On the last day of campaigning for the General Election, Progress Singapore Party's secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock urged voters to pick Members of Parliament (MPs) who will ask the “right questions” to ensure that the Government is more transparent and less sterile.
Speaking to reporters before visiting Clementi West residents on Wednesday afternoon (Jul 8), Dr Tan said voters should understand that any Government must be examined based on the fundamental principle of transparency. This will lead to clarity and trust in the Government, he said.
He added that if PSP candidates are voted into Parliament, they would ask questions that will reflect concerns from the ground. The country will benefit from this, he also said.
However, if the Parliament is made up of a huge majority of People’s Action Party MPs, the environment would be “sterile” as there would only be “one voice”.
“So what I'm hoping is that when if we get a chance to go into Parliament, I would expect the (PSP) MPs who got in to ask the right questions," Dr Tan said.
"Not just ask questions for the sake of asking questions, but to actually ask questions to delve further into the subject, so that you can have a full understanding. And then this will be reflected to the ground by the media."
He added: “So I think the country will be better. There will be more trust. And when you do things, I think (it will be) easier”.
READ: GE2020 - ‘Proper opposition MPs’ able to represent voters better than NCMPs, says PSP's Tan Cheng Bock
Dr Tan was also asked to comment on what some observers have claimed to be “negative campaigning” by certain quarters.
He replied that he had asked PSP candidates to take the moral high ground.
“We want to stay high because we want Singaporeans to understand that we can conduct an election in a very proper and gentlemen way. Because if you are looking to us as examples, can we set that example for you?
“So I told my men, stay high. You don't have to go and criticise your opponents, how bad they are and so on. It is a contest of ideas. I got my ideas, you got your ideas right. We will let Singaporeans decide,” he added.
The PSP leader was also asked about his thoughts on campaigning in an election during the COVID-19 pandemic, with measures imposed meaning that there are no physical rallies and the number of candidates had to be limited during walkabouts.
Dr Tan, who has contested in six general elections and one Presidential Election, told reporters that campaigning this time was “really quite fun”.
He noted that the COVID-19 restrictions meant that the campaigining experience was very different this year.
“I was campaigning in the good old era where we had no such restrictions. So the restrictions did curtail some of our own movements. But generally, I think we are quite adaptable. We managed to do what is very essential for any election,” said Dr Tan.
He added that he had to turn to online recordings as a tool to spread his message to voters.
READ: GE2020: PSP manifesto articulates vision clearly, PM Lee should consider party's ideas, says candidate Michael Chua
“Yeah, I had to do a lot of recordings … I must say one of the most number of recordings in my life,” said Dr Tan.
"But I am beginning to accept it. At my age, I’m beginning to learn new things like this,” said the 80-year-old.
Dr Tan is leading a PSP team to contest in West Coast GRC against an incumbent PAP team led by Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran.
Later on Wednesday evening, Dr Tan continued meeting West Coast GRC residents at Jurong West. He also met up with his PSP teammates also running for West Coast GRC - Leong Mun Wai, Hazel Poa, Nadarajah Loganathan and Jeffrey Khoo.
PSP WILL RETURN EVEN IF IT DOESN'T WIN: TAN CHENG BOCK
In another session with journalists, Dr Tan was asked about his future and that of the party if PSP do not win any seats on Polling Day.
He said: "Even if we don't win, we will recoup. We will not run away because we are a new party, I have to train them to take defeat and if we are defeated (for this GE), we will have to come back in five years time."
On whether he will be leading PSP's charge in the following General Election, Dr Tan said: "It all depends, I always say five years is a long time, maybe I'll retire.
"If I'm willing and I'm able, I'll still be around. But the most important thing ... is this team, the stage I'm building for them and by then they will be very well acquainted with politics, and a way of doing things correctly, which is very important."
On whether PSP has an internal succession plan in place, he said the party will continue to recruit young members but maintained that nothing was "cast in concrete".
When asked if he was ready to handover the leadership of the party, Dr Tan said: "Not so fast.
"Because there are so many factors when you are looking for a leader, not purely on academic qualifications.
"(Academic qualification) could be a good start, but you got to see whether people follow you. Because in politics, I see whether the person can sell an idea, not (just) tell people. Selling and telling are two different things. In politics, we sell ideas."