SINGAPORE: The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) on Thursday (Jun 18) unveiled its first batch of potential candidates for the upcoming General Election.
They include party vice chairman Hazel Poa, who was from the National Solidarity Party, as well as former People's Voice member Brad Bowyer.
The other potential candidates are Mr Sri Nallakaruppan, a chartered accountant, IT professional Taufik Supan, former Singapore Armed Forces Lieutenant Colonel Francis Yuen, as well as Ms Gigene Wong who used to hold senior management roles in multi-national corporations in China.
"Each of them brings their unique life experience and wisdom to add value to PSP and also to Singapore. They (have) come forward to join our mission to build a better future for Singapore," said PSP secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock during a virtual press conference.
"Above all, the one important value they carry is service before self. And for that to happen, the heart must be in the right place. We are here for (the) country and for (the) people."
The party, which was officially registered in March last year, did not reveal which constituencies it plans to contest. However, PSP has begun conducting weekly meet-up sessions via Zoom with constituents from West Coast and Pioneer.
Dr Tan was Member of Parliament for Ayer Rajah for 26 years, when he was with the People's Action Party (PAP). The ward is now part of West Coast GRC.
BUILDING AN "ALTERNATIVE" FOR SINGAPORE: MS POA
During the press conference, Ms Poa said that she joined politics previously because she felt that a "one-party system" was not sustainable over the longer term.
"I want to contribute towards building a stronger opposition over the shorter term because a stronger opposition will also push the ruling party to be stronger and to be more responsive to the needs of people and that would be good for Singapore," said Ms Poa.
"Over the longer term, I want to help build an alternative for Singapore, to give all Singaporeans a choice to an alternative party and an alternative path."
Mr Yuen, who spent 18 years with the Republic of Singapore Air Force before moving to the private sector, said that lessons he had learnt over his career would put him in good stead to be a politician.
"To me, a politician's greatest asset must be a listening ear. You must learn how to listen to the people," he said. "Politics to me is about serving people, just like we as a company serve our customers and all our stakeholders.”
Responding to a question on how potential candidates would carve out an identity of their own, political newcomer Mr Taufik said that he hopes to champion issues relating to the Malay community.
“The Malay community is still very much concerned about its progression, instead of just scratching the surface of the problem, I believe it is also necessary to do a deep dive into the root cause of the problem - issues like education, poverty, inequality, discrimination must be addressed," he added.
When introducing himself, Mr Bowyer, formerly a citizen of the United Kingdom, said that he has benefited from the "talents and expertise" in PSP, and that the compassion the party has for Singaporeans motivates him.
"PSP has that heart, it has passion and it has a vision, and it knows that in the new world we must do things differently,” he said.
Mr Bowyer has been in the local political scene since the 2011 General Election. Then, he was involved with the grassroots, volunteering at Meet-The-People sessions with PAP.
In November 2019, Mr Bowyer became the first person to be issued a correction direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, for a Facebook post which the Government said contained misleading and false statements about state investor Temasek Holdings and sovereign wealth fund GIC.
As for PSP member Mr Nallakaruppan, he said that he had supported Dr Tan since the 2011 Presidential Election and shared his ideals.
“I saw a man that was willing to speak his mind in his parliamentary days ... he truly cared for Singapore and Singaporeans. I shared his ideals and that’s why I became a founding member as well as treasurer for (the) Progress Singapore Party,” said Mr Nallakaruppan.
Dr Tan stood for the 2011 Presidential Election, where he lost marginally to Dr Tony Tan.
In March 2016, Dr Tan Cheng Bock announced his intention to run for President again. But he was unable to do so as the 2017 election was reserved for Malay candidates, following changes to the Constitution that stated that if there is no President from a particular racial community for five consecutive terms, the next term will be reserved for a President from that community.
Dr Tan launched a legal challenge to the reserved election. The Court of Appeal dismissed his application.
Singapore’s next General Election has to be called by Apr 14, 2021, but there are signs that it will be called soon.
The Elections Department announced its preliminary campaigning guidelines on Thursday, which state that no physical rallies will be allowed if hustings for the General Election fall within Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening,
Political parties and candidates will get free airtime on Mediacorp's Channel 5 and subsidised livestreaming venues.